The Celebration of Life was a testament to Lisa McDevitt's impact on the arts community.
There’s no question that Flagler Auditorium Executive Director Lisa McDevitt lived and breathed the arts.
As an advocate for arts in education, Lisa McDevitt organized multiple 5Ks to take strides for funding scholarships for students who pursued arts after graduation. She was known as the first one in and the last one out for the auditorium’s countless shows — for which she was responsible for securing professional out-of-town talents, as well as giving students a platform to grow.
Beyond her appreciation for Flagler County students in the arts, Lisa McDevitt was known for her love for her four children: Jaclyn, Jeffrey, John and James.
During the Celebration of Life for Lisa McDevitt on Saturday, Feb. 2, Jaclyn, Jeff and John walked up to the podium to share memories of growing up with the auditorium as a second home.
“When Allen asked me if we wanted to speak, I wasn’t sure what to say,” Jaclyn McDevitt said. “Like my mother, I prefer to be behind the scenes. Then, after sitting and thinking, ‘How do I start?’ the first thing that popped in my head was, ‘Good evening, and welcoming to the Flagler Auditorium.’”
Chuckles filled the room. That was Lisa McDevitt all right.
“A lot of you have watched us grow up, so you all know how special our relationship is with our mom,” Jaclyn McDevitt said. “No matter what she had going on at the theatre, she was always a mom first. She never missed any event that us kids were involved in.”
As Flagler School Board member Colleen Conklin spoke about Lisa McDevitt’s affection for her children, she became choked up.
“She had a warmth that would cover everyone she met. But if you knew Lisa for an hour, you knew immediately about the love she had for her children,” Conklin said. “As a single mom, everything she did was for the benefit of her children. I loved how often her adult children would call, each with their own special ring tone, and at the end of every conversation would hear her say, ‘I love you too.’ Her kids adored her and never hung up without saying it first. It was a beautiful testament to her relationship with them.”
Lisa McDevitt died at age 58 on Jan. 21, surrounded by friends and family. She called Flagler County home for 43 years. Her impact can physically be seen at the auditorium, as she was the planner behind its recent renovations.
In true auditorium fashion, the Celebration of Life included live music performances.
“This is not a service where we’re going to mourn Lisa a lot because that’s not what Lisa wanted. She wanted a service of celebration,” Allen D. Whetsell said. “And if you thought the opening numbers were good, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
A piano prelude was played by Alana Fitzgerald, the brass quintet of Flagler Palm Coast High School performed “Pachelbel Cannon,” the FPC chorus sang “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” to lighten spirits, Andy Cooney sang “You Raise Me Up,” Amy Fulmer sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and the FPC chorus and alumni concluded the evening with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
If there’s one thing Lisa McDevitt taught the packed house — young and old — gathered at the auditorium on Feb. 2, it’s that “The show must go on.”
And that it will, with the foundation for arts appreciation that Lisa McDevitt worked tirelessly to establish and build upon through her dedication to the auditorium.