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FUSTA's Hall of Fame

FUSTA is proud to present the Hall of Fame Awards. This prestigious award is given to honor members of FUSTA who have made an impact on Highland Dancing in the United States and have contributed to the growth and development of the FUSTA organization. We would like to thank Moira Choy & Heather Sutherland for compiling this information.

If you know of someone that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, please read the criteria document, fill out the nomination form below, and submit it on or before March 1st to Moira Choy.

Hall of Fame - 2011

Ann JohnsonANN JOHNSON was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. By the time she was three her father had learned to play the bagpipes as a birthday surprise for her Scottish grandfather. From then on the music was always present and Highland Dance lessons followed when she was six.

By the time she was 7 she began competing and enjoyed modest success. It was not until she went away to college with every intention of giving up Highland Dance that she discovered she was not ready to do that.

Ann continued to work at her dancing often without regular instruction while she attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Learning to be analytical and to practice effectively were valuable acquisitions that resulted in rewarding competitive successes on the west coast of the U.S. and Canada.

After graduation Ann taught 4th grade for two years in Tacoma before returning home to Portland in 1974 where she had been hired by the Hillsboro School District to teach 5th and eventually 6th grade.

In 1980, she attended the organizational meeting of FUSTA held at a Highland Dance conference in Las Vegas. It was easy to become enthusiastically involved in the efforts to preserve and promote Highland Dance in the U.S. Ann served as the Northwest Region's first delegate and was elected FUSTA's third president in 1984.

In 2003, shortly after retiring from a 31-year career as a classroom teacher, Ann was again elected FUSTA President becoming the first person to hold that office twice. The world of Highland Dance had changed considerably in the 20 years since she had last been president. It was a world made smaller by electronic communication and the ease of travel. FUSTA and the overseas affiliates of the SOBHD communicated more frequently and found that all were suffering from growing pains in one form or another.

She is credited with re-establishing harmonious relationships with the SOBHD. During Ann's three terms as president she also oversaw the establishment of the FUSTA Hall of Fame and the academic scholarship for high school seniors. FUSTA's Scottish representative to the SOBHD became a regular attendee at the Mid-Winter meeting; a move that did a great deal to enhance communication and trust between the two organizations. The FUSTA newsletter and ballot 'went electronic' and the vital positions of National Registrar and National Judges' Committee Chairman became elected rather than appointed positions on the Board of Directors.

For over 30 years, she has been a volunteer and more recently Vice President Competition and on the executive committee of the Portland Highland Games Association.

Ann has been a member of SOBHD Adjudicators' Panel since 1974 and is an SDTA Life Member and Examiner.

Her dance school in Portland has produced consistently well-trained dancers who have exhibited a love of dance and the true spirit of sportsmanship. Her students have won local and national championships, including the USIR, and medals and trophies at the major summer championships in Scotland.

It is her belief that all who participate in Highland Dance have an inherent responsibility to give back so that others can enjoy the wonderful experiences and opportunities it offers. The privilege of participation in Highland Dance and FUSTA has been a highlight in her life.

Hall of Fame - 2010

Christie FreestoneCHRISTIE McLEOD FREESTONE's love affair with highland dancing has spanned the last half century. When she was eight years old, her Scottish grandfather arranged for Christie and her sister, Jeanne, to study with two of the great highland dance instructors of the day, Pearl Magnuson and Sharon Magnuson (Capitani). After four lessons, Christie decided that highland dancing was "too hard," and hung up her ghillies. Her sister continued to dance, becoming one of Michigan's most successful champions in the 1960's. After four years of traveling throughout North America to highland games, Christie decided to join her sister and become a highland dancer once again. This time, she "caught the bug" and the rest is history.

Not a natural dancer, Christie had to break down movements into isolated positions in order to perfect them. She quickly discovered a talent for analysis and an ability to teach. Her out-going personality, mixed with her ability to instruct, led to the founding of the Mid-Michigan Highland Dance Academy in 1970. As an Alma College freshman, she was recruited to teach her first student, Mary Jo Rohrer (Pung) whose father was the Community Education Director for the public schools. He asked her to teach a six-week course to the community children of Alma. In the first class offered, four students registered. The second class session enrolled 12 students. The third class session produced over 150 students. Highland dance officially became an institution in Alma, Michigan-Scotland, USA.

Christie Freestone DancingIn the late 1970's, Christie initiated discussions with the Detroit area teachers about holding a national championship for highland dancing in the United States. Knowing that such an undertaking would need national support, she took the idea to a teachers' meeting at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in 1980. It was decided to present a proposal to teachers from around the country at the Las Vegas International Highland Dance Conference in 1981. In order to sponsor a national championship, a governing body was necessary. The Federation of United States Teachers and Adjudicators of Highland Dance (FUSTA) formed and Christie was elected to be the first president. The first USIR was held in 1981 and Christie had a national champion that first year. In the past 25 years, she has had regional finalists at every USIR and has produced 11 USIR champions.

As an early elementary school teacher with a Master Degree in early childhood education, Christie has researched motor skills development in children and adapted her findings to the teaching of very young highland dancers. She has taught numerous workshops throughout North America sharing her techniques for teaching beginner dancers.

As the director of the Mid-Michigan Highland Dance Academy in Alma, where she currently heads a staff of six member and associate teachers of highland dance, Christie's students have won over 100 championships throughout the world. She has trained 23 member teachers and three SOBHD judges. She initiated the idea of a judge's training program, that has became a reality through the collaboration of life-time friends and judges, Liz and Bill Weaver, and student and judge, Kate DeGood. Christie is a life-time Fellow member of the BATD and a member of the SOBHD judges' panel. She teaches first grade at a public elementary school in Ithaca, Michigan and is an Adjunct Professor of highland dance at Alma College. She is the wife of Dave, "the wind beneath her wings," and the mother of Craig, "the pride of her life!"

Christie's legacy is the positive approach she uses when teaching students. Parents are encouraged to watch lessons and to practice with their children. Students are encouraged to participate in other activities, even if it means adjusting dance schedules. She believes that students must experience all that life offers before they are able to decide upon which path they will follow in life. Only then will they find their "gifts" and develop a passion for living. Perhaps, Christie's greatest gift is that every student leaves a workshop or a dance class feeling special. She often believes in her students more than they believe in themselves. She credits her personal successes in life to the lessons she learned from her loving parents, Catherine and Max McLeod.

Most people slow down after 40 years on the job, but Christie just keeps going at a frantic pace. With a smile, a hug and a word of encouragement, Christie Freestone has made an indelible mark on the world of highland dance.

Hall of Fame - 2009

Cathy HyndCATHY HYND was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Living close to the Canadian border she began Highland lessons at an early age in St. Catherines, Ontario, first from Bill Cameron and most of her competitive years from Shirley Ashdown. She had a very successful career as a competitor from a young age into her twenties at all the major competitions in the Eastern United States and Ontario.

After completing a degree from the University of Buffalo, she began teaching and often judged when she retired from competition. At the start of a career in Journalism, she became eager to organize a cohesive group of Highland teachers in the Eastern U.S. states, and was the co-founder of the United States Highland Dancing Association (USHDA). The original group included Marguerite Reid, Margaret Callendar, Vera Miller, M.E. Davidson, Margaret Killen and several others who were teaching in major cities.

After getting the organization up and running and organizing the first SOBHD sanctioned championship in the U.S. in the early 1960's, she met her future husband John Hynd, and after their marriage she moved to California and began teaching along with John and then on her own. Cathy and John were amongst the first American members of the Worldwide SOBHD Judges Panel.

One of Cathy's legacies will be that she and Jenny MacLachlan from Kitchener, Ontario organized the first Highland workshop for dancers from the U.S. and Canada who came together to enhance their skills and knowledge. Instructors at this event were Heather Jolley and Sandra Bald Jones. Years later, Cathy and Sandra organized the first "World of Highland Dancing Conference" in Las Vegas with professionals gathering from the U.S, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. This event made the world of Highland much smaller and resulted in new communication and friendships that had not been seen prior to this event.

Cathy was part of a group who organized what is now FUSTA at that first Conference which was held in Las Vegas in 1980. From its inception, she has continued to be committed to the goals and success of FUSTA and has actively participated from the beginning until theCathy Hynd in the 50's present day. Christie Freestone acted as the first President and Cathy was supportive from day one acting in various capacities. She served as the first West Regional Delegate for several terms, then as Vice-President and President for two years beginning in 1996. She prides herself in having attended all but two of the USIR events and has served often as co-organizer or FUSTA Liaison at the USIR's in California. As President she attended the first SOBHD Liaison meeting in Glasgow, and began the practice of holding a mid-winter meeting for the FUSTA Board of Directors, which has become an essential part in running FUSTA today. She also appointed Lynne Erbrick as chairman of the much needed and important Judges Committee, and produced the CD "Dance to the Piper", coaxing several U.S. pipers to donate their time and effort. The CD has become a significant and worthwhile fundraiser for FUSTA for many years.

Apart from her administrative and organizational efforts, Cathy has managed to produce 12 USIR champions, a Junior World Champion and a 1st runner up, as well as champions at the Commonwealth and Bute Championships. Some of her former pupils are current members of FUSTA and several are on the SOBHD Worldwide Judges Panel.

Over a 50-plus year span, Cathy remains committed to the goals of FUSTA and the SOBHD, and to excellence in competitive Highland Dancing. She is currently a life member of the BATD and a member and examiner of the UKA.

Cathy and John reside in Manhattan Beach, CA. Their daughter Janeen, also a successful competitive dancer, is married to Richard Tronnes and they reside in Vancouver, Canada with their three year old daughter, Ava.

Hall of Fame - 2007

Norine HarmonNORINE HARMON has known highland dancing all her life. Growing up in Western Canada, she was a competitive highland dancer from the time she was very young. She was quite an accomplished dancer, winning many awards to include championships in Canada. Norine Harmon

After her family moved to California when she was in her late teens, Norine competed as a professional roller skater. When she came back to highland dance, it was as a certified Highland Dance instructor, with the SDTA.

After completing her official highland dance-teaching exam in 1965, Norine and her husband settled in San Jose, CA where she started the San Jose School of Highland Dance.

In addition to being a successful highland dance instructor, Norine has contributed to highland dance through many other avenues. She has been the highland dance coordinator for the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, before it was held in Santa Rosa, over 35 years ago. She has been the dancing coordinator for many other highland games, including the first Monterey highland games. Norine has contributed and helped make successful the Monterey Highland Games since it was first held in Pebble Beach.

Norine was also an adjudicator and has judged throughout the United States and Canada. She has earned the highest possible merits in the Scottish Dance Teacher's Alliance, and was a Life Member. Norine has inspired many highland dancers. We thank and honor Norine for her many years that she has given to highland dance. She was one of a kind, and we are all fortunate for her generosity in sharing with us her enthusiasm for highland dance and Scottish culture. (d. 2007)

Hall of Fame - 2006

Jeannie BraunsJEANNIE BRAUNS was born in 1928 in Trenton, NJ. She graduated from Rider College and then worked for the state of NY. Besides her family, her passion in life was Scottish Highland Dancing. Throughout her life, she had formed many lifelong friendships within the Scottish community around the world. Jeannie founded the Albany Area Capital District Braemar Highland Dancers in 1962, later opening another school in Rome, NY. Many of her dancers went on to compete at numerous championships including the U.S.I.R. She was the founder of the Scotia Highland Dancing Competition and dance organizer for the Capital District Scottish Games. In 1981, she opened the Braemar Summer School of Highland Dancing and Kiltmaking. She was a member of several organizations, past president of FUSTA and Daughters of Scotia. Jeannie was also a life member of the SDTA. (d. 2005)

Margaret CallanderMARGARET CALLANDER was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She began dancing at the age of 5. She is a Life Member of the BATD and has been a Member of the SOBHD Judges' Panel for many years. In 1955 she won at the Edinburgh Festival. She began teaching in 1950. Her students have won many awards in the United States, Canada and Scotland. She was secretary of the Association before FUSTA was created namely USHDA. This Association was comprised of members from the present Midwest Region and Eastern Region. From members of this Association FUSTA was born. Margaret was one of the founders of the Ohio Scottish Games, which led to the organization of the Ohio Scottish Arts School. For the past 28 years the School has promoted Highland Dancing to students from the United States and Canada. The School promotes teacher training and has produced hundreds of teachers to carry on our Scottish Arts and Traditions.

Florence HartFLORENCE HART started highland dancing lessons in Scotland when she was 5 years old. She became a Cowal medalist and Fife champion. At 15, she won a scholarship to the Celtic Ballet School of Theatre Dance and studied there for 3 years in Glasgow. Florence danced in Britain until the age of 23. She arrived in the United States in 1961 where she started teaching highland dancing. She began her SOBHD judging career in 1967. Florence has a fellowship in SDTA and is a member of UKAPTD. She has trained many champion dancers and has had representatives from the Midwest at the U.S.I.R. for the last 25 years. She taught at Macalester College for 38 years and organized the Macalester Highland Games in 1965.

Betty LawrenceBETTY LAWRENCE, originally from Ayr, Scotland and now lives in Oklahoma City with her husband Matt and her Scottish terrier MacDougall. She has taught highland dancing for over 50 years and is a member of SDTA. She is a fellow and examiner emeritus of the BATD and is on the SOBHD judges panel. Betty has taught at the Ohio School of Scottish Arts for numerous years and has mentored many dancers. She is an advocate of dancers continuing their education to become teachers and judges. Betty continues to foster a love of highland dancing and shares her knowledge with many students and teachers.

Sheila MittigSHEILA MITTIG - Born in Balloch, Scotland Sheila studied all forms of dance at the Stewart School, Alexandria. Sheila emigrated to Dearborn, Michigan in 1964 and immediately began teaching Highland Dancing. She is a Life Member of the B.A.T.D. and has been on the S.O.B.H.D. judge's panel for many years. Sheila has judged and taught workshops all over the world and has taught two World Champions. Sheila now lives in Novi, Michigan where she still teaches along with her daughter, Alison. A former student of Sheila's, Alison is a four time U.S. Highland Dance Champion.

Vera PattersonVERA MILLER PATTERSON'S love of Dance began in Scotland at an early age. Studying with the best teachers she became well versed in the disciplines of Highland, Ballet, Tap and Character, winning many prizes in local competitions. Following the war, Vera emigrated to the US with her husband and young daughter and began teaching Highland and Ballet in Lorain, Ohio. Her students won numerous awards and championships in the US and Canada including the Eastern US – Junior and Senior, Adult World and Junior World Titles. With her friends and colleagues, Vera was one of the founders of the USHDA – the forerunner of FUSTA - and was active in the BATD and SOBHD. Many active teachers, judges and dancers were recipients of her generous knowledge-sharing, her uncanny gift of timing and her deep and abiding love of Scotland and the art of Highland Dancing. (d. 2005)

Marguerite ReidMARGUERITE REID was born in Philadelphia, PA on March 19, 1933. Her parents, Sam and Isabel Watson, emigrated here from Scotland. As a young child she went to Scotland where her love of Highland Dancing was born. She began dancing when she was five in Trenton, NJ with Wilma Buick. Marguerite began teaching at an early age by teaching her cousins, Helen Magee and Judy Magee Hackett. The Daughters of Scotia also provided her with dance students, one of those being Catherine Davidson Fisher. She was a pioneer in the field of highland dancing in a number of ways. She was also one of the first teachers to embrace the new philosophy of the SOBHD. She was one of the first SOBHD judges in the US. She served as the fourth President of FUSTA. One of the things she was proudest of was getting FUSTA affiliated with the SOBHD during her term as President. Her willingness to try new methods or approaches is what kept her teaching inspirational. She encouraged her dancers to become teachers and judges. Fourteen of her dancers are now currently FUSTA members. (d. 2004)

Mary StewartMARY STEWART came to Kearny from Glasgow, Scotland in December 1951. In 1953, she started teaching Scottish Highland Dancing at the Masonic Temple on Kearny Avenue. In 1968, she moved her school to a small studio in the basement of a two-family home, a short walk from her Devon Street home. In 2000, Mrs. Stewart retired after nearly 50 years of teaching. In those years, she taught hundreds of dancers and trained 6 current FUSTA members. Mrs. Stewart was a past Grand Chief of the Daughters of Scotia Bonnie Doon Lodge 10, a member of the Siloam Shrine 17, the Order of the Eastern Star Kelvin Chapter 69, and the Order of the Eastern Star Arlington Chapter 66. Mrs. Stewart was a long-time member of FUSTA and its predecessor, USHDA. She judged all over Scotland, Canada, and the United States and was a BATD examiner and life member. (d. 2001)

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