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Former Batavian reflects 
on art hall of fame honor

AURORA – Delbert Peterson, a 2012 Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame inductee, was overwhelmed at being recognized in front of family, friends and fellow inductees Thursday at the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame’s biannual induction celebration at Piper’s Banquets in Aurora.

“Never in my wildest imagination would I thought something like this could happen to me in my lifetime,” Peterson said before the ceremony that recognized him, along with six other individuals with ties to the Fox Valley area.

Peterson was born in Aurora in 1926, lived in Batavia for more than 40 years, and operated a commercial art studio out of the city in the 1950s. He currently resides in Vero Beach, Fla., where he still paints and teaches.

His heartwarming speech later in the evening drew genuine applause from the packed audience.

“On an occasion like this, it’d be nice if my mom and dad had been here, and my wife’s mother and father, and the many people that I was privileged in life to be associated with and to work with,” Peterson said. “I know they say God does miracles, and at times I wondered, ‘This would be a Miracle if you could just them know that I think of them many times and I thank them for what they contributed to put me in this position.’ ’’

Peterson was recognized for his painting talents, many of which have been featured in national collections and exhibited throughout the country. He told me previously that he has painted more than 1,400 pieces throughout his life.

“I’ll never forget this,” Peterson said. “I’m thankful that I can be here and I think it’s really wonderful what the people have done to create this event and to create the Fine Arts Hall of Fame.”

There were six other people inducted in this year’s hall of fame class.

• Gower Champion, a dancer who was born in Geneva in 1919 and who accumulated eight Tony Awards for his career in choreography and musical direction. He died in 1980.

• Annbritt (Gemmer) duChateau, a top conductor in musical theater. She was born in Aurora in 1965. She is currently the New York conductor for “Billy Elliot” on Broadway.

• George Grant Elmslie, an architect who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. He helped build historical buildings in Aurora and Elgin. He died in 1952.

• Carolyn Hove, a solo English horn player for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. She was born in Elgin.

• John Qualen, who was born in Elgin and was a character actor in such films as “Casablanca” and “The Grapes of Wrath.” He passed away in 1987.

• Dominic Walsh, who was born in Elgin and is a dancer performing with the Houston Ballet for more than a decade.

• Mike Van Der Harst is the features editor of the Kane County Chronicle. “The Second Row” will feature coverage of arts and entertainment events throughout the area. Contact him at 630-845-5233 or Follow him on Twitter @MikeVDH1.


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