A quiet, generous lady has left Winston-Salem with a legacy that will last much longer than her considerable years. Marion Secrest died Friday at the age of 107, but the music series she endowed in honor of her husband will live on to be enjoyed by multitudes.
Secrest endowed the Secrest Artists Series in 1987 in honor of her late husband, Willis Secrest, who died in 1962. She has left much of her estate to ensure the future of the se-ries. It brings world-class performers – classical and otherwise - to Wake Forest and Winston-Salem for performances, workshops, master classes and lectures, enriching the lives of its many attendees, most of whom probably have little knowledge of the Secrests themselves.
The series’ mission statement says that it will bring “the best of the established artists in the performing arts and the most promising of the new” to perform on the Wake Forest campus. Stories abound about the performers who have attended, as varied as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Ravi Shankar, Doc Severinsen and the Senegalese Ballet d'Afrique Noir.
A unique feature of the series is that while the general public attends at ticket cost, Wake Forest faculty, staff and students are allowed to attend for free.
It’s quite something to live to 107, but the way Secrest used her time makes her life even more meaningful. She lived simply and frugally, yet was productive and generous. “She loved flowers, music and bridge,” her longtime friend Tom Stump told the Journal’s Arika Herron. “That's pretty much (Marion) in a nutshell.”
Her friends will miss her. The recipients of her gift will be forever grateful.