The Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival and Baylor University offer this dedication to our dear friend, Horton Foote, who passed away on March 4, 2009. In his seventy year career, Horton penned more than a hundred plays and films, including Tender Mercies, The Trip to Bountiful, The Traveling Lady, The Young Man from Atlanta, and Dividing the Estate, to name only a few. He believed in the power of drama as a healing force in the world and committed his life to telling the stories of his hometown of Wharton, Texas. His works are rooted in the tales, the troubles, the heartbreak, and the hopes of all he saw there and they testify to the beauty, brutality, and mystery of life. We have all been blessed by his unassuming voice, his wisdom, and his incredible grace. In a competitive business that seldom rewards integrity, Horton Foote remained the very model of kindness and generosity. I will miss his humor, his kindness, and that mischievous smile. Whenever I think of Horton, I picture a young courageous boy of seventeen who left his family and small town to pursue a call to be an actor. His play, The Actor, is a sort of love letter to his parents who gave him the incredible resiliency to make the journey from Texas to California and eventually New York. As the character Horace says,
Daddy gave me a twenty-dollar bill then, which he said I should save in case an emergency of some kind came up. I thanked him and mother began crying then and said they were going to miss me. I said I would miss them too. Daddy said they were both very proud of me and felt I would have a wonderful success, but to always remember that if things didn't work out in California or any other place, I could always come back to my house and be welcomed and there would be a place for me to work in his store. I thanked him for telling me that. I never did go back during their lifetime except on visits, though many a time when I was lonely and discouraged I wanted to. But then I remembered about my call and kept on going somehow.
Horton Foote's call took him down many roads but he never lost his passion for the theatre or his need to remember those he loved. Horton, we will miss you. Have a safe journey home, Buddy.