Val Hanson may have sat in a dark room above Rialto’s community playhouse for more than 30 years, but on Sunday, the lighting magician’s life and legacy shined brighter than ever.
Hanson–“the technical guru” behind Rialto Community Players’ productions at the Sandra R. Courtney Community Playhouse–was celebrated and honored with a lifetime achievement award and naming ceremony of the technical booth at the theater.
Hanson passed away Nov. 18.
“This wasn’t done because he’s no longer lighting up the stage,” said Sandy Courtney, who started the community theater in 1982.
“When we moved in here in 1990 the tech booth was his reward. He spent thousands of hours over the years in that booth getting things just perfect. This has been years in the making and today we honor this very special man.”
But Hanson wasn’t celebrated alone. His wife, Winnie, also earned a moment in the spotlight Sunday.
The outdoor stage at Rialto Park, which sits alongside the Playhouse, was renamed the “Winnie Hanson Performing Arts Stage.”
“Winnie is a special person and has used her life well to enrich others. Today, her names is up there as a symbol for everyone to see and appreciate all she has given to this community,” said Courtney.
The events brought tears of happiness to Winnie’s eyes.
“You don’t really go into this kind of thing thinking about the rewards of it because you just want to do something for the community,” said Winnie, as she walked to the Playhouse for her late husband’s celebration.
“It’s remarkable to be recognized for something you’ve done and I’m extremely proud of it. But for people to say they appreciate what you’ve done–what we have done–it makes me get a little choked up. I wish he could see.”
Val and Winnie were instrumental in the construction of the Playhouse, which has been the home of the Rialto Community Players for more than 25 years. Winnie served as a Rialto City Council member for eight years ad Val was part of the Rialto Amateur Radio Club assisting the city’s fire department with emergency communications.
Both ceremonies were celebrated with cheers and kind words from Rialto city officials, council members and area elected officials.