Debbie Rowe
Debbie  Rowe
 
Donnie Pitchford
Donnie Pitchford

Debbie Rowe was raised in Nederland, Texas and was a dancer and twirler from the age of 3.  At the age of 16, Debbie was chosen through auditions to join the apprentice program with the San Francisco Ballet Company, a professional ballet Company in San Francisco, California.

Debbie returned home to finish high school and was chosen as a member of the Beaumont Civic Ballet company soon after her return as a Corps de Ballet member and soloist with the Beaumont company for two years. Debbie performed such ballets as “The Nutcracker”, Sleeping Beauty” and many more.

Debbie majored in dance at the University of Oklahoma and always wanted to have a dance studio of her own to teach other kids to love dance as much as she did.  Debbie first opened a Rowe Performing Arts in Nederland in 1976.

Debbie also worked closely with the Beaumont Civic Ballet Company in Beaumont Texas, where she choreographed and directed portions of their annual production of “The Nutcracker” and was on the Board of Directors for the Port Arthur Community Theater in Port Arthur, Texas and Vice President of their Children’s Theater Board, serving as a Choreographer and Assistant Director for many productions. Debbie also offered training in modeling and coaching for beauty and talent pageants.  As a certified pageant judge, she judged the Miss Teen Louisiana Pageant in 1988 as well as numerous local and area pageants.

When Debbie’s parents retired and moved to East Texas in 1990, she moved to Carthage and opened her studio downtown.  Debbie always saw her dance studio as a place that was a safe haven for kids and felt like she was doing what God wanted her to do with her life.  She has always made a big effort to spread his love and his constructions in their lives any way she could.

Through competitions, Rowe’s dancers were selected to perform with the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles in their annual production of “The Nutcracker” and to perform with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in their halftime shows at various Cowboys football games. In 1999 students from Rowe were invited to travel to New York and perform in “The Nutcracker” on Broadway. Throughout the years various students received college scholarship funds from dance competitions and several were invited to dance on national dance teams and study at select ballet intensive, many were selected for area baton twirling lines, flag twirling lines, cheerleading squads, and drill teams on the junior high, high school and college levels. Debbie’s daughter, Juliet Rowe Hawley, now Mrs. Juliet Townzen, worked as a professional dancer and singer in Branson Missouri from 2000 through 2004 then returned to Carthage to become assistant Director of Rowe Performing Arts.

After 30 years of teaching dance in downtown Carthage, Debbie retired in 2020 leaving a huge impact on generations of dancers. Rowe Performing Arts is still alive and well at 127 West Sabine under the name of RPA Dance Company, owned by Emily Roberson Goode, who is one of Debbie’s talented former students and is carrying on the tradition of excellence that has always been there.

 

Donnie Pitchford is a graduate of Kilgore College, Art Instruction Schools, Stephen F. Austin State University and UT-Tyler. He has worked in the graphic arts industry and in education, teaching at Hawkins High School, Panola College, and Carthage High School. 25 of those years were spent directing CHS-TV where student teams earned state honors, including state championships, for 20 consecutive years.

In 2010, Donnie returned to the endeavor he began at age five: being a cartoonist! The weekly "Lum and Abner" comic strip began in 2011. It is available online and in print and includes an audio production for the blind. Donnie has created comic book stories and art for Argo Press of Austin, illustrated children's books, written scripts for the "Dick Tracy" newspaper strip, and produced the science fiction comedy strip "Tib the Rocket Frog." He began assisting Carthage sculptor Bob Harness in 2017 and currently sculpts the portraits for the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame plaques.

Awards include Kilgore College "Who's Who" in Art, an Outstanding Educator Award from the East Texas Chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs in 1993, the CHS "Pine Burr" Dedicatee honor in 2010, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2018 from Spring Hill ISD. Donnie and his best friend/wife, Laura, are members of First Methodist Church Carthage.

Donnie is a founding officer of the National Lum and Abner Society and a member of Texas Cartoonists, Ark-La-Tex Cartoonists, Christian Comic Arts Society, and the National Cartoonists Society.