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Artist Leaves Legacy of Culture, Art

Artist Leaves Legacy of Culture, Art

Local artist Dorothy Luedemann left a legacy of artwork after her death: sculptures, map prints, paintings, and more. But her greatest legacy might be the two bequests that she gave to the Outer Banks Community Foundation – one to provide scholarships for arts students, and the other to provide grants to nonprofits for art-related projects.

The seeds of the Luedemann's generosity were sown more than 50 years ago. Eddie Greene, one of the Community Foundation founders, remembers when he first met Charlie and Dorothy.

"I had been in the Lost Colony in previous summers but, because I had joined the actors' union, I couldn't perform for them any more. I loved Manteo and came down that summer anyway. I rented a small house that is now part of the Island Gallery and Christmas Shop, and that summer I used the living room as an art gallery.

"Dorothy and Charlie walked in one day in 1962 and were surprised at the atmosphere and at hearing the classical music I always played on the phonograph," said Greene. "They were real characters and stopped by whenever they were in the area."

Eventually, both Greene and the Luedemanns became permanent Dare County residents.

"Charlie started an insulation business, and she opened a studio and gallery near the Wright Memorial Bridge," said Greene.

According to several stories printed in the Coastland Times, Mrs. Luedemann frequently participated in area art shows and encouraged children to become involved in the arts.

Preceded in death by her husband, Mrs. Luedemann died in 1996. Her will directed that her household contents and art collection be sold and the money be deposited with the Community Foundation to set up the two charitable endowments. The total bequest to the Community Foundation was just over $357,000.

In 1998, Ernest White was one of the first to receive a scholarship from the new Charles H. & Dorothy S. Luedemann Scholarship Fund.

"That scholarship played an important role in my life," said White, owner of VA Displays in Smithfield, Virginia. "It not only helped me financially with the cost of college; it also indicated that someone believed in me, and it forced me to keep up my grade point average so that I could continue renewing each semester."

The scholarship was renewable only as long as White's grades didn't fall below 3.0. He graduated magna cum laude from the North Carolina State University School of Design with two degrees – one in industrial design, and a second in art and design.

Four and half years before receiving his college diplomas, White dropped out of high school. He enrolled in the GED program at the College of the Albemarle's Dare Campus. "When I finished the GED, I had enjoyed the experience so much that I enrolled in classes. I graduated with an associates degree in art and then transferred to the School of Design." He received $1,000 in Luedemann scholarships each year that he attended COA, and $2,000 for each of the two years that he attended the NCSU School of Design.

Recently, he paid off his student loans and that event, he said, sparked a conversation with himself about how he might help others achieve success. "Because of the scholarship, the amount I had to pay back in loans was lower. My wife,

JoAnn, is an accountant, and we are still paying off her student loans," he said.

"I have a career that I enjoy and can do at home. And there is a bonus because my 10-month-old daughter, Annabelle, keeps me company while I work, so I get to spend a lot of time with her. I've been blessed," said White.

A more recent college graduate also expresses appreciation for the help that he received through the Luedemann scholarship program.

Israel Southern graduated from Manteo High School in 2008 and received his first scholarship from the Luedemann fund. "The following year, when I was to reapply for the scholarship, my grandmother suffered a severe stroke, and my schedule was altered to the point that I did not get to reapply for my sophomore year at East Carolina University. However, I reapplied and received the scholarships in both my junior and senior years at ECU. Those wonderful scholarships helped me to purchase all the art supplies I needed for my art classes while I was working on my bachelor of fine arts degree in photography."

"Paint brushes, canvas, photo paper, film, paper, pencils, pens – I could go on and on with a list of things that I was able to buy for my classes. This helped me so much in achieving my goal of graduating on time. I was truly blessed with these wonderful supplies, many of which I still have to this day. It made a difference in my life, and I am ever so grateful!"

In 2022, 26 years after her death, Mrs. Luedemann has helped 79 local students seek a higher education in arts – the Charles and Dorothy Luedemann Art Scholarship Fund has awarded $255,000 in scholarships to date. The Charles and Dorothy Luedemann Arts Fund has restored musical instruments, purchased costumes and stage equipment, and sponsored theatrical, dance, and musical performances, in partnership with over a dozen local groups, including the Lost Colony, Elizabeth R & Company, the Dare County Arts Council, and the Freedmen's Colony of Roanoke Island – in total more than $278,000 in arts grants.

Because Mrs. Luedemann's bequest remains invested as endowment, only five percent of the fund is awarded in any given year. The remaining principal and earnings are reinvested each year so that the funds can make grants and scholarships forever. As of early 2022, Mrs. Luedemann's initial $357,000 gift has awarded over $534,400 in grants and scholarships, and is still growing, with a current balance of over $620,000.

Now and forever, Mrs. Luedemann's bequest is weaving arts and culture into the fabric of the Outer Banks.

Since 1982, the Outer Banks Community Foundation connects people who care with causes that matter. The Community Foundation manages over 200 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards charitable grants to local nonprofits, administers 60 scholarship funds, and provides tailored services to help individual donors and their families pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants and scholarships.

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