Giving Thanks and Saying Farewell to a Pivotal Leader

by Layla Price, Board Member, Main Street Marion

Those who have had the pleasure of knowing Main Street Marion Director Loretta Walker Tappan have truly witnessed a miracle worker.  Loretta has served as director of Main Street Marion for nearly 5 years, and has endured countless hours serving the downtown community in a capacity that, statewide, has an average turnover of 2.5 years.

Under Loretta’s long-standing leadership and guidance, and with help from dedicated partners, Main Street Marion has achieved four great things: A memorial monument in honor of the legendary James Dean at his actual birth site downtown, a new downtown community lunchtime tradition in “Thursday Picnics” at the 3rd Street Courtyard, the unique Pop-Up Gallery series showcasing local art while promoting marketable spaces downtown, and a complete downtown makeover under the Downtown Beautification Program.

Loretta leaves our organization later this month, but she will not be forgotten.  We will press on with new energetic leadership in Taylor Hawk, an IWU grad focused on downtown transformation through programs and projects (we will cover this in the January column), but will heed her advice to focus on long-term strategies, keep open communication with the community, civic leaders and downtown constituents, and work with other downtown organizations, especially ones in downtowns that share Marion’s demographics.

Loretta and her devoted husband, Roger, who also tirelessly carried out the mission of Main Street, plan to travel the country as their next endeavor, visiting similar downtowns and sharing their findings with us through a program they’ve coined “Downtown Discoveries.”

On Friday, November 20th, from 5-9pm, we are holding a farewell party for Loretta and her husband, Roger, during the last Pop-Up Gallery of the year.  This open-house style event will take place at 418 E. 3rd Street in Marion (for lease), and will feature the art of Lenny Prussack, fashion designer, artist, and co-founder of the James Dean Gallery in Fairmount.  We will have cake and refreshments and a gift table for Loretta.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend this fun yet bittersweet event.

A glimpse of gratitude:

“Loretta’s proactive efforts have certainly helped to revitalize and beautify the downtown district.  It goes without saying that she will be deeply missed, however, it is reassuring to know she will thrive and continue to share her brilliant personality throughout future endeavors.” – James Harris, Executive Board Member, MSM

“I’ve always felt like we never really paid Loretta enough for the time and effort that she put in.  MSM got a bargain with her.  I will miss her.  Downtown will miss her.  My hat is off to her.” – Thomas Rawlings, Board Member, MSM

“I have never met a more selfless person when it comes to giving of her time to the organization or to Downtown Marion.  Her passion to see the downtown district revitalized has inspired many people to donate time and money as well as become active in the events MSM puts on.  Her absence will be felt by many.” – Marc Lobdell, Executive Board Member, MSM

“Loretta was instrumental in putting together the team of people that got the James Dean Birth Site Memorial built and dedicated.  It was a pleasure working with someone like her who gets things done.” – David Loehr, Co-Owner/Co-Founder of the James Dean Gallery, Fairmount, IN

“She makes friends easily and has a way of charming people into co-operating and sharing in the events she organized, all the while doing the lion’s share of the work, going above and beyond.  Not forgetting the longsuffering and supportive Roger, unselfishly sharing her with us all.” – Anne Maddox, artist and Design Committee Member, MSM

“Her talent to enroll people to work together to achieve a common goal for the betterment of our community is unmatched.  It is safe to say that “no” is not a word Loretta is accustomed to hearing from the people she has reached out to for their assistance.  Main Street Marion is a much stronger organization due to her talent, effort and dedication.  She will be missed.” – Eric Marshall, President, MSM

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