Former Maryland Theatre Executive Director Pat Wolford dies at 71

November 09, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Former Maryland Theatre Executive Director Pat Wolford is seen in this file photo inside the ornate theater, which she led for nearly 10 years before retiring in 2006.
Former Maryland Theatre Executive Director Pat Wolford is seen in this file photo inside the ornate theater, which she led for nearly 10 years before retiring in 2006.

HAGERSTOWN — Patricia Weber Wolford, former executive director of the Maryland Theatre, died early Wednesday at her home in Ocala, Fla., said her husband, Ted Wolford.

She was 71.

Wolford led the Maryland Theatre for nearly 10 years before retiring in 2006, and is credited by some with saving it from financial troubles.

She also made waves as executive director of Potomac Bend Medical Center in Hancock, where her involvement in the firing of three doctors in 1987 led to months of controversy, culminating in the center shutting down and reopening under new management as Tri-State Community Health Center.

“I admire her so much for the bravado that she gave to projects in the light of controversy,” said Ronald Bowers, Wolford’s friend and a past president of the Maryland Theatre’s board of directors.

Bowers remembered Wolford as a detail-oriented community servant who got things done despite working in male-dominated arenas where she was not always fully accepted.

“She knew where she wanted to take a project, and she wasn’t afraid to follow through with it,” he said.

“She had a brilliant mind, and she just wanted to keep active and do things,” Ted Wolford said. “She didn’t back away from a challenge.”

The daughter of Freeman and Selina Jones, Wolford was born July 31, 1940, in Kentucky, her husband said.

She moved to the Hagerstown area in the 1970s and married Ted Wolford in 1981.

Around 1976, Patricia Wolford started a medical center in Keedysville, he said. The Hancock center followed in 1979.

In addition, Wolford worked as a project manager for Perini Construction, then went on to establish Magnolia Management, which managed a number of nursing homes for Perini Services, Dominick Perini said.

Perini remembered Wolford as a “dedicated and focused” employee.

“She was one-of-a-kind,” he said.

At the Maryland Theatre, Wolford took the reins at a time when the theater was struggling and could not afford an upcoming mortgage payment.

Wolford stepped in as acting theater director, initially without pay from the theater. Her management decisions drew criticism and even resignations from some employees, but within six months she had the theater’s finances back in the black.

“She brought the Maryland Theatre out of debt and into a positive cash flow,” Bowers said.

“It was a challenge,” Ted Wolford said. “That’s what she liked: the challenge of getting things done.”

Even after retirement, Patricia Wolford stayed busy as president of the homeowners association for their 55-plus community, he said.

Wolford had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm, but her death was unexpected, he said.

“She went to the cardiologist on Monday,” he said. “He said everything was fine. He said, ‘I’ll see you in six months.’”

Wolford is survived by two sons, Scott Weber of North Carolina and Todd Weber of Asburn, Va.

Funeral arrangements had not been finalized Wednesday. Ted Wolford said his wife would be cremated, according to her wishes.

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