Letters to the Editor – July 15, 2015
Johnny August remembers Mary Demetrious
I was sad to see the passing of Mary Demetrious. Mary loved Darlington and was always working on projects to improve it.
The Blue Sky Mural and The J.C. Daniel Auditorium. I can remember back when it was being renovated, how hard she worked and the time she and her family spent getting it ready for the opening night.
I am not sure of the exact date, but do remember that opening night there was an overflow crowd.
The auditorium is sitting idle now, but doesn’t have to be.
In her memory, wouldn’t it be nice to bring it back to life again? How about large industry like Nucor Steel, Sonoco Products, James River, and the City getting together and make it happen?
We need a place that can host plays, talent shows, and pageants…and wouldn’t have to go to Hartsville or Florence.
Recollections of Mary Demetrious from Mayor of Darlington, Tony Watkins
Mary Demetrious was one of the most complex and intelligent people I have ever known. She could be single minded and passionate about any project she was interested in, and as a result she would rarely take no for an answer when it came to accomplishing her goals. Although we were not always able to accommodate all of her requests for financial help, for many years the City was a major contributor to the Foundation and the J.C. Daniel Auditorium, which it operated. I have always respected Mary’s determination and always considered her a friend. Her interests centered around history, the arts, and culture. She initiated an historic survey, which culminated in the City being designated as Certified Local Government, making the creation of the City of Darlington’s Historic Commission possible. Because of this Commission, and her role in it, the City has been able to maintain the historic charm of many of its neighborhoods and homes that have been lost in other towns.
The mural in downtown Darlington would not be there if Mary had not brought her talents and determination to its creation. The mural is now a landmark that is known throughout the State.
She was the chief founder of the Saint John’s Heritage Foundation whose goal became the restoration of the J.C. Daniel Auditorium. She raised an enormous amount of money to accomplish this project and for years the Auditorium successfully hosted events of all types, including Town Hall meetings, beauty pageants, concerts, talent contests, and other cultural events. Unfortunately, as Mary’s health began to fail, the health of the Foundation and the Auditorium also began to fail. She was not one to hand over responsibility to others, and as the increasing demands of maintaining this aging building began to exceed her ability to keep up with them, the Foundation eventually ceased operation and the building fell into disrepair.
Her supporters were legion and were just as passionate she was, but because of her determination to accomplish so much, or perhaps because of it, some in Darlington began to point out some of the flaws in her plans and she lost much of the financial support she needed to continue her crusade. To this day, however, I believe that virtually everyone in Darlington knows that everything she wanted to accomplish was for the betterment of Darlington. That type of selfless determination and passion is rare these days, and that will remain her legacy.
Mayor of Darlington, S.C.