Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 12, 2014

Theater director ends 25 years

Dennis Gilmore and family to retire to Palm Springs, California

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — Former owner of the Athens Review, Richard “Dick” Dwelle said it best: “There are so very many people who have made significant contributions to this community, but it would be difficult to find anyone who has had a greater impact for good on the youth of Athens than Dennis Gilmore.”

After 25 years as Executive Director of The Henderson County Performing Arts Center, Gilmore announced his retirement from HCPAC.

In 1989, Gilmore presented the Board of Directors with a proposal to hire him as Executive Director of the Theater.  The Board agreed if Dennis could raise the money to pay his own salary. Gilmore not only raised the money, he exceeded all the expectations of the Board of Directors.

Dwelle said in a letter that appeared in the Athens Review, “During the 25 years he has headed Henderson County Performing Arts Center, it has grown to be probably the finest little theater in the state, located in any community that is comparable in size to Athens.”

“Years ago, leaders of the organization wisely chose to make the Athens Little Theater a truly performing-arts center, and then, for many good reasons, made it a county-wide organization,” said  Dwelle.

In the February HCPAC Newsletter, Mark Roberts, President of the HCPAC Board of Directors, said, “From a single stage with rudimentary facilities, the theatre has expanded to include a new theater space with improved functionality, storage and workshop.”

“Dennis accomplished this by involving friends and volunteers from all of Henderson County, as well as grants from local, state and national organizations,” said Roberts.

Other accomplishments include the youth program, the summer youth musicals, Christmas shows, summer workshops, senior programs, dance classes, public-service productions, touring shows, professional entertainment and countless other activities benefiting all of Henderson County.

On Friday, April 11, Dennis and his wife Karen will be honored during a 50th Anniversary celebration fundraiser.  The event to be held at Cedar Creek Country Club will feature dinner and entertainment.

The invitation reads: “This is a very special evening dedicated  to Dennis and Karen Gilmore, and the 25 years they have devoted to entertainment, education and changing lives.”

There will be no silent auction, no live auction nor raffle sales. Black tie will be optional.

The admission to the celebration includes a donation to the theater. Individual ticket price is $100 a ticket, or a table sponsor for $1,000. Tickets can be ordered at or call 903-675-3908.

Gilmore and his wife's future plans include retiring to California.  He said he plans on still being involved in theater. Dennis will continue his work with American Association of Community Theatre.

Roberts  said, “As HCPAC/ALT enters its 50th year, Dennis has prepared the theater to continue its role as the premier Cultural Performing Arts Center of Henderson County and East Texas. The Board of Directors wishes to express its thanks to Dennis and Karen for their leadership and friendship, as they prepare to continue their lives as community leaders in Palm Springs, Calif.”