Ella Fountain Pratt, Long-time Duke Arts Manager
We regret to report the July 28 death of Ella Fountain Pratt, one of Durham’s (and Duke’s) leading arts managers and advocates. An obit appeared in the Herald-Sun, which retains a short version at http://www.heraldsun.com/obituaries/#58289; a longer narrative reached us by email and is reproduced below.
Few music lovers in the Triangle can have been untouched by Mrs. Pratt’s work in out midst. We shall miss her spirit and her enthusiasm for the arts.
As noted below, a memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 9, at First Presbyterian Church, 305 East Main Street, Durham, at 2:00 p.m.
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“DURHAM – Ella Fountain Keesler Pratt passed away at her home in Durham on July 28, 2008. She was born in Greenwood, Miss., January 10, 1914, the daughter of General and Mrs. Samuel Keesler. A nationally recognized arts administrator, she helped shape the arts both at Duke and in Durham. After graduating from Mississippi State College for Women she taught dance at Sullins College. Later, she married Lanier Pratt who had been a childhood beau and the two moved to Durham where Lanier was a professor of Romance Languages and a Dean at Duke University. After Lanier’s death in 1956, she began her distinguished career at Duke in the Office of Student Affairs before becoming Director of Cultural Affairs. She loved working with students and was mentor and second mother to many now working in the arts and other fields. She was a staunch supporter of all student artistic endeavors at Duke and helped launch the Durham Arts Council’s Creative Arts in the Public/Private Schools in the early 1970s. She retired as Director of Cultural Affairs at Duke in 1984 and immediately began a volunteer career at the Durham Arts Council where she produced Durham’s first Street Operas and started the Emerging Artists program, serving as its director from 1984 until her death.
“Much loved by all who knew her she is survived by her sons Lanier Ward Pratt Jr. of Durham and Samuel Keesler Pratt and daughter in love Celia of Swannanoa; her grandchildren, Lanier Ward Pratt III and wife, Teresa, Marguerite Armbruster and husband, Jeff, Jonathan Pratt, Charles Pratt and wife, Tracy, and Lydia White; 11 great-grandchildren; many beloved nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.
“A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. August 9, 2008, at First Presbyterian Church, 305 East Main Street. A reception will be held at the church following the service.
“Burial will be at the First Presbyterian Church in Swannanoa later this year.
“In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Durham Arts Council’s Ella Fountain Pratt Fund or to the First Presbyterian Church, Durham.”