New arts center honors late Roene DiFiore

Ernie Doose, executive director of ARTS Inc., shares his memories of Roene DiFiore, June 25, 2012 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A new children’s center honoring the memory of Roene DiFiore was dedicated Monday in St. George.

At the Orval and Ruth Hafen Home, 307 Main St., supporters of the arts and friends and former students of DiFiore gathered for the dedication of the new Roene B. DiFiore Center for Arts and Education.

Stephen Nadauld, president of Dixie State College, speaking on the positive influence DiFiore was on students at the college, June 25, 2012 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“It’s wonderful we’re reviving the memory of Roene,” said Stephen Nadauld, president of Dixie State College.

DiFiore’s legacy

But just who was Roene DiFiore? People who have moved to St. George in the last 20 years may not be familiar with the name unless they’ve become acquainted with her former students from DSC’s Program Bureau. The Program Bureau was the forerunner of the college’s current show choir, Raging Red.

“Everyone loved to be around her and participate with her,” Karol Truman said as she shared her memories of DiFiore. “Roene’s influence was so magnificent.”

The influence DiFiore had in the lives of her students was echoed by others who knew her.

“She was a life-changer for many people,” Robert Bromley said. “She put swagger in your step.”

John Carter, another former student, said DiFiore was an amazing woman with a great attitude. No matter how bad of a day he was having, Carter said he “always walked out of the classroom feeling great.”

Another person whose life was forever changed by DiFiore’s influence was Ernie Doose.

“Roene gave me a purpose for life,” Doose said. “I am who I am today of Roene.”

Doose was placed in remedial classes while going through school and said he was considered stupid because of it. However, he enrolled at Dixie and eventually met DiFiore.

“’You’re not stupid,’” Doose recounted DiFiore telling him, “’You’re creative and artistic.’”

DiFiore taught Doose how to sing. He ultimately graduated with a degree in musical theater and went on to perform in Broadway productions.

Doose’s story was detailed in Zions Bank’s Speaking on Business radio program in 2011.

He is now the executive director of ARTS Inc., a Utah-based non-profit organization focused on bringing fine-arts programs to elementary-aged children.

DiFiore taught at Dixie State College for 28 years and passed away in 1990.

Purpose of the DiFiore Center

Doose said it had been a dream of his to have a place where DiFiore’s legacy could live on and benefit others. That dream came to fruition with the acquisition and renovation of the Hafen Home.

“We try to help creative children connect the analytical mind and the creative mind,” Doose said. He said children who struggle with math and other subjects could learn them better through more creative means, rather than through textbooks. The Center will also cater to more individual needs, rather than take a cookie-cutter approach to learning.

It is also a goal of the center to be as inclusive as possible. “Every child is welcome here,” Doose said.

For the parents of children who may not be able to afford the costs of programs at the new arts center, Cindy Doose, Ernie Doose’s wife, said they were looking into scholarship programs to help alleviate the problem.

Though the center is largely geared towards children, Cindy Doose added classes for adults would be offered as well.

The Hafen Home

The Hafen Home was built in 1952 by Orval and Ruth Hafen.

“This house is full of happy memories,” said Margaret Hafen Archibald, who grew up in the home.

St. George Mayor Dan McArthur singing "This is Dixie" with a member of the audience. The song was originally penned by DiFiore, June 25, 2012 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Archibald said her parents were supporters of the arts, and would be thrilled at what their home was being used for now.

Orval Hafen was described as a “true friend of Dixie State College,” in a proclamation read by St. George Mayor Dan McArthur. Orval Hafen helped keep the college alive when its future seemed bleak. The proclaimed officially designated June 25 as “Orval Hafen Day.”

A similar proclamation was read in honor of DiFiore, which also marked June 25 as “Roene B. DiFiore Day.”

Bruce C. Hafen, an emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and current president of the LDS St. George Temple, gave a dedicatory prayer for the arts center.

Rooms in the Hafen Home have been converted into a library, a puppet theater/multipurpose room, a dance studio, a visual arts room, and a music room. The garage is to being converted into an art gallery.

Email: [email protected]
twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Very wonderful!

  • LJ Westover December 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Ernie, looks like a great enterprise; congratulations!

    Enjoyed the article. Anything that fosters education and the Arts has got our admiration and encouragement. I know you’ll make an ideal director with your love for, talent in, and spirit for Art and aiding those who would share your passion.

    Cordially, LJ & Yvonne

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