Los Alamos High School Alumni Seek To Name Stage At Duane Smith Auditorium After Ross & Lola Ramsey

Toper Review Cast 1972. Courtesy/LAPS Foundation

Ross and Lola Ramsey. Courtesy/LAPS Foundation

LAPS Foundation News:

Two Los Alamos High School alumni are working with the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) Foundation and LAHS Principal Carter Payne to name the stage at the Duane Smith Auditorium “The Ramsey Stage” in honor of Ross and Lola Ramsey.

The Ramseys founded The Olions and managed the auditorium between its opening in 1951 and 1974 when they both retired. In addition to their work with high school students, they supported the Little Theatre and the Light Opera organizations.

The two alumni – Paul Horpedahl, a 1975 graduate who went on to a long career in opera, particularly with the Santa Fe Opera, and Jock Mills, a 1973 graduate who believes that stage-managing theatrical productions in high school prepared him for a career in the political world, have formed a small committee to promote naming the Duane Smith Auditorium stage in honor of the Ramseys. They also are raising funds for the Auditorium. Their goal is to complement and add to the honor bestowed on Duane Smith when the auditorium was named after him in 1994.

“The Ramseys each played a profound role in shaping the lives of thousands of students who participated in the performing arts. They helped me find and develop my potential. I learned how to work with others, meet deadlines, and deal with all sorts of personalities, including my own,” Mills said. 

“Ross and Lola Ramsey worked as a team in helping students build self-esteem, perform, manage, collaborate, and succeed in whatever career they pursued. Alumni in all walks-of-life identify the time they spent on and around the stage as a period that shaped who they are today,” Horpedahl said.

With the “Light Up The Stage for The Ramseys!” campaign, Mills & Horpedahl are raising funds to place a plaque and other markings on and around the entrances to the stage. Funding will also enable the purchase and installation of new, state-of-the-art energy efficient stage lighting. Additional monies raised will support a yearly needs-based scholarship in honor of the Ramseys for a graduating senior active in Olions productions.

LAHS Principal Payne praised the effort to recognize the Ramseys and noted the benefit to the high school and community. “This will serve future students and community users of the Duane Smith Auditorium.”

The effort has already secured a matching challenge grant from Peg Watt and Paul Larson to recognize the impact of the Ramseys on the Watt family – Bob, Lore, Sandra, Susan, and Peggy. This grant will match the first $20,000 contributed to the effort; $7,000.00 has already been contributed to help kick off the project.

Peg Watt & Paul Larson:

“The experience we gained in Olions was theater and life skills.  We learned that a job must be done correctly and safely, and that age didn’t matter if you demonstrated responsibility. We learned that while blue humor was good for a laugh, clean humor was much more satisfying. We learned about winning and losing and teamwork without having a loser as in an athletic contest. We learned that the whole was more than the parts and everyone’s contribution was valuable.

Their trust and expectations motivated us to work hard to achieve spectacular results with minimal adult intervention. I wish my children could have had that same environment. Because of the mentoring I received, The Little Theatre trusted me to work with a few high school friends to provide a performance opportunity for young children the summer after I graduated from high school.  Why else would they trust an 18 year old with the keys to a full theater?

In addition, my parents were both involved in theatrical productions for many years. They also benefited from the Ramsey’s great expertise. The Los Alamos Light Opera and The Little Theatre provided wonderful entertainment for the entire community.”

Donations for “Light Up The Stage for The Ramseys!”

Donate online at lapsfoundation.com or mail a check to Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, 1010 Central Avenue, Los Alamos NM 87544 (please note “Ramsey” in the memo). Contributions made online are subject to a service charge. Donations to LAPS Foundation are tax deductible. 


Submit tributes, memories and photos of the Ramseys and Olions to: Paul Horpedahl at ramseystage@gmail.com 

Tributes will be compiled and documented for a yet-to-be-scheduled celebration of the “Naming of the Ramsey Stage.”

For questions or additional information, contact LAPS Foundation at j.mccumber@laschools.net or 505.500.6501.


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