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UNT celebrates the life and contributions of Paul Voertman

UNT celebrates the life and contributions of Paul Voertman

Voertman’s on Hickory Street in Denton, Texas is the location of a proposed new student apartment building. Jake King

UNT celebrates the life and contributions of Paul Voertman
October 20
21:33 2017

The UNT College of Music hosted a celebration to honor Paul Voertman’s life and contributions on Thursday at the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Voertman, the former owner of Voertman’s Bookstore, died June 21 of this year at the age of 88. Voertman was born and raised in Denton, attended UNT and maintained a close relationship with both the city and the university until his death.

The event opened with Prelude and Fugue in D Major, organ music composed by Johan Sebastian Bach. Aside from the piece being a favorite of Voertman’s, the organ itself had been a gift from him to the university, named thereafter the Richard Ardoin-Paul Voertman Concert Organ.

UNT President Neal Smatresk touched on the significance of the piece in his opening remarks.

“What an appropriate beginning to this [celebration],” Smatresk said. “I could not imagine it being on the Ardoin-Voertman Organ.”

Music was a point of emphasis in Thursday’s celebration, which helped focus on Voertman’s contributions to the local arts. Highlights of the day include Puccini’s Crisantemi and two scenes from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, as Voertman had a love for the opera. Additionally, the celebration showcased a short retrospective video of Voertman’s life, detailing all he did for Denton.

Voertman had been known throughout his life for his philanthropic giving, donating $5 million over the course of his life to UNT, as well as giving to Texas Woman’s University and numerous Denton organizations. With a posthumous donation of $10 million to UNT from his estate, Voertman and Richard Ardoin, his late partner of 48 years who died in 2002, have given UNT a total of $15 million, making them UNT’s top donors.

Voertman owned the Denton bookstore Voertman’s from 1952 to 1990. The store, founded in 1925 by Voertman’s father, Roy, was initially a teacher’s general shop. After Roy died in 1952, Voertman took over despite never intending to own it. Over the course of his ownership, the store turned more to textbooks and college items.

He was honored by the Greater Denton Arts Council in 1986 for his contributions to the arts.

To mark the occasion of the celebration, Denton Mayor Chris Watts gave a statement released Monday, declaring Oct. 19 would be known as Paul Voertman Day. Watts said this in order to “encourage all citizens to recognize his countless achievements and contributions to Denton, education and the arts on the occasion of the celebration of his life.”

College of Music Dean John Richmond said as much in a statement praising and thanking Voertman for his support of the College of Music.

“He was a friend [to the College of Music] in the truest sense,” Richmond said. “He sought to help, to encourage, to challenge and to steward this great college to be even better. In this, he succeeded mightily and we are forever grateful.”

These themes of generosity and love for the arts was echoed in Smatresk’s statement closing out the day’s program.

“How blessed we have been to have been recipients of [Voertman and Ardoin’s] caring,” Smatresk said. “That generous spirit is working to transform us and will continue to help continue to guide our students and faculty.”

Featured Image: Voertman’s on Hickory Street in Denton, Texas. File

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Joshua Cassidy

Joshua Cassidy

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  1. Rita B
    Rita B October 21, 12:57

    “UNT’s top donors? At $15 million? Whatever happened to the $22 million pleged by Charn Uswachoke? What is that, chopped liver?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Olivia Beach
    Olivia Beach October 21, 12:58

    Whatever happened to the $22 million gift from Charn Uswachoke?

    Reply to this comment

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