Because of the generosity of two alumni, the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University will have a new home and a new name -- the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
Frank and Jane Gabor of Baltimore, Md., have made a $500,000 gift to the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc., which will be used to renovate and restore the historic Kennedy Barn, the new home of the West Virginia Folklife Center. The Gabors' gift will be matched by $250,000 from FSU, as part of a capital building challenge that was initiated last spring.
"The Gabors have been dedicated supporters of Fairmont State for years, and we are extremely grateful for this generous gift to benefit our students and our campus," said Dr. Daniel J. Bradley, FSU President. "The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center will maintain one of the richest archives of Central Appalachian culture, art and history in the region, as well as a portion of Fairmont State's extensive, vintage costume collection. This is truly a gift to our entire state and to future generations of West Virginians."
The renovated building on the west side of campus will serve the Fairmont State campus and community as a welcome center and folklife exhibition center, while providing much-needed archival, classroom and lab space for students in folklore studies and folklife applications including museum studies and folk arts crafts production and marketing. The Kennedy Barn was placed on the National Register for Historic Buildings earlier this year. The renovation project is slated to break ground in July 2007.
"The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State will pay tribute to the settlers from the wide variety of ethnic and cultural groups who made this region their "home," said Dr. Judy P. Byers, Abelina Suarez Senior Professor of English and Folklore and Director of the West Virginia Folklife Center. "It will additionally benefit the preservation of West Virginia folklore, culture, art and history."
The Gabors chose to direct their gift to the naming of the West Virginia Folklife Center because of Jane Gabor's love of the arts, and because they are extremely proud of their West Virginia heritage.
"Jane and I feel very fortunate that we were able to attend a small college like Fairmont State located so close to our "home," Frank Gabor said. "We truly enjoyed our time at Fairmont State and all of its people. We believe that the knowledge we acquired at Fairmont State was instrumental in guiding us toward the success we have been fortunate enough to achieve in our lifetimes. Consequently, it seems reasonable and appropriate to return some benefit to the university that contributed so greatly to our success."
Frank "Pooch" Gabor, formerly from Grant Town, is the son of Frank and Theresa Gabor. He graduated from Fairview High School in 1953 and served in the United States Air Force from 1954-57. Upon discharge from the Air Force, he earned a B.S. degree in business administration from Fairmont State in 1961. While a student at Fairmont State, he was a member of Tau Beta Iota Fraternity and Who's Who Among Students In American Universities and Colleges. He lettered for three years in baseball and one year in soccer. He earned his master's degree in health care administration at George Washington University in 1964.
Gabor's career in health care administration spans 28 years and includes senior leadership positions at the Hospital for Women of Maryland and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. In 1977, he became president and chief executive officer of MGH Health Services, Inc., a multi health care system comprised of a hospital and four other subsidiaries. He retired in December of 1990. Gabor serves on the Fairmont State Foundation Board of Directors and the Fairmont State Alumni Association Board. He is a past recipient of both the Fairmont State University Letterman of Distinction and Outstanding Alumni awards.
Jane Gabor, the daughter of Hiriam "Baz" and Mary Clellan White, is a 1960 graduate of Fairmont State. A native of Mannington, she grew up in Nutter Fort, graduating from Roosevelt Wilson High School. While a student at Fairmont State, she studied secondary education and was active in several organizations, including Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, Splashers, Alpha Psi Omega and the Masquers. She was the 1955 Homecoming Queen at Fairmont State and was later named Miss Central West Virginia. She is a past recipient of the Alumni of the Year award.
Following graduation, Jane Gabor taught secondary school in Lorain County, Ohio. For a brief time, she also taught at East Fairmont High School. Upon moving to Maryland, she taught in Montgomery County, Md. She remained active in the theatre, and in 1964 she left teaching to devote her time to volunteerism in health care and children's theatre. She served for a time as President of the Board of Directors for the Children's Theatre Association in Baltimore, Md.
Twenty-eight years ago, the Gabors became co-owners of the full-service day spa About Faces Day Spa, in Towson, Md. Currently, the Gabors co-own five About Faces Day Spas. The spas are located in Baltimore, Towson, Tinonium, Pikesville and Salisbury, Md. The Gabors currently reside in Baltimore, Md., and are the parents of two adult children.
The Gabors hosted the first meeting of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the Fairmont State University Alumni Foundation and for many years continued to host the annual alumni chapter meetings. In past years, they have been active volunteers with the American Heart Association of Maryland, the Burn Center at Francis Scott Key Medical Center and the Shock Trauma Unit for the University of Baltimore's Emergency Medical System.
"The Gabors have been avid supporters of capital building projects at Fairmont State for years, including providing gifts in support of the construction of the Erickson Alumni Center,"said K. Jean Ahwesh, Executive Director, Fairmont State Foundation, Inc.
"We are so pleased that they have decided to lead the charge in the restoration of the Kennedy Barn. Frank and Jane have always shown foresight in their selection of investments at Fairmont State, choosing projects that benefit not only the institution, but the greater community as a whole. We are grateful for their continued, steadfast support."
Fairmont State is currently the foremost provider of folklore and folklife educational programs for the Appalachian region. The program is recognized nationally for innovations in folklife studies. The folklore program has a celebrated faculty and a successful curriculum garnering regional and national recognition. The program is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of our region's rich cultural heritage, through academic studies, educational programs, festivals, performances and publications. For more information on the Folklife Center, call Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director, at (304) 367-4286 or Noel W. Tenney, Cultural Specialist, at (304) 367-4403.
For more information on giving or naming opportunities or to create an endowment in support of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State, contact the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. at (304) 367-4009 or toll-free at (866) 372-2586.