Belle Glade campus theater dedicates season to Homer Hand who died Nov. 5
When the curtains open throughout the 2022-2023 season at the Palm Beach State College Belle Glade campus theater, it will be in memory of Homer Hand, a former College trustee and longtime supporter and philanthropist, who died Nov. 5. He was 94.
The Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center is dedicating its entire season to Hand, who along with his wife, the theater’s namesake, was a staunch supporter of the nearly 500-seat facility. It opened in 1982, thanks largely to Dolly’s work to secure state and private funding, including the couple’s contribution. The Hands also were among community members who rallied to establish a campus in the Glades in 1971.
“The two of them rarely missed a show until about five years ago when their health began to prevent them from attending,’’ said Debbie Bowles, Box Office supervisor.
“He’s been very supportive,’’ Bowles said. “He did not care to be in the spotlight. If they were receiving an award or special recognition, he’d been known to go to the podium, say ‘I’ve always heard you should let your lawyer do the speaking for you,’ and turn the mic over to Dolly, who earned a law degree from Stetson University.”
Homer’s funeral, attended by close friends and family, was held Nov. 11 at Community United Methodist Church in Belle Glade after being postponed because of Hurricane Nicole.
According to his obituary published in the Palm Beach Post, as a grandson of some of southwest Florida’s early pioneers, he was born in LaBelle on January 15, 1928, to Homer G. Hand, Sr. and Pauline Manning Hand. He attended Clewiston High School and left to join the U.S. Navy in 1945 as World War II was coming to a climax, serving in the Pacific through 1946.
He married Frances “Dolly” Rutledge on June 6, 1954, the tenth anniversary of D-Day. The newlyweds made their home in Belle Glade.
Homer was a strong supporter of the College. He was first appointed to the Board of Trustees by the late Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1987 and served until 1999 after being reappointed for additional terms, including periods as chairman. He led the board and the search committee when the College selected Dennis P. Gallon as its fourth president in 1997.
During Homer’s many years of public service, he also served as chairman of the Palm Beach County Planning & Zoning Board, chairman of the then Palm Beach Community College Foundation, chairman of the City of Belle Glade Planning & Zoning Board, and several other bodies. Homer was named Belle Glade Citizen of the Year in 1994, was recipient of the Governor’s Heartland Award in 1997, and selected as Champion of Higher Independent Education in 1996 by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. During his life, Homer was a skilled pilot, an avid fisherman and an enthusiastic water ski instructor. Homer was a devoted member of the Community United Methodist Church and was a longtime Sunday school teacher there.
In addition to Dolly, Homer is survived by his nieces, Brenda Lopez (Pepe), Karen Arcadipane (Phillip), Dale Rackley, Joyce Richards, and Beth Peretti and by his former wards Kathy McRae and Bill Prescott and their families. Homer was preceded in death by his sisters, Imogene Bryant, Marjorie H. Martin and Mona L. Rader.
For those considering memorials, the family suggests Community United Methodist Church, 401 S.W. First Street, Belle Glade, FL 33430 or the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center, 1977 S.W. College Drive, Belle Glade, FL 33430.