Pull-Tight received the sad news this month that the theatre’s founder, Vance Gordon Ormes, passed away at his home in Delray Beach, Florida at the age of 69.
Vance was born in Franklin to the late Agness and Bill Ormes, who were also very involved with Pull-Tight in its early days. He attended Franklin Elementary School and later Battle Ground Academy, where he graduated in 1970 as salutatorian and was a National Merit Scholar finalist. At the age of 15, Vance participated in a play at the Nashville Children’s Theatre, and it ignited the theater bug. The next year, with the help of some of his parents’ friends, he formed the Pull-Tight Players with a production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, performed in the Franklin High School auditorium.
Vance graduated from the University of Denver, and wore many hats through the years as actor, director, playwright, stage manager, and designer. In 1995, he entered the Royal National Theatre Studio in London, where he took classes in Shakespeare, Greek and Roman Theatre, Mask, Voice & Movement.
After many years of running a professional theatre in Montana, Vance spent some time in Franklin caring for his elderly parents, which allowed current Pull-Tight members to get to know him. He was also able to travel to Franklin to participate in Pull-Tight’s 50th Anniversary celebration, and contributed to our documentary 50 Years a Treasure via Skype from New England.
Heather Bottoms and Ricki Keckley were two members who enjoyed their friendship with Vance at that time. As Heather says, “Vance was funny and smart and always ready to start a new adventure. Pull-Tight thrives today because of the founding principles he helped to instill, and we will be forever grateful for the way he has impacted our community and the theatre we all love. We are so thankful for the legacy he leaves behind.”
Ricki honored his passing by saying, “Every good thing in this life has a beginning and an idea. Vance Ormes had an idea and a great support group to help that idea grow into a reality. For over 50 years, Franklin has been the recipient of that idea and has enjoyed the gift of live community theatre through Pull-Tight Players. I am forever grateful that my path crossed with Vance’s during his time in Franklin caring for his parents. His lifelong dedication to theatre brought with it a plethora of advice and helpful information that will forever be treasured and will help Pull-Tight to exist for generations to come. Vance demonstrated once again that one person can make a positive difference in this world.”