Father’s Portrait Finally Finds Rest

In 1973, the brush strokes of a daughter’s paintbrush created a portrait of her father to hang in a place of honor at William Woods University. But it would be 29 years before it would be hung there.

Donna Aldridge, a 1962 graduate and daughter of the late Ralph G. Aldridge, will unveil the portrait of her father during a ceremony in the Aldridge Recreation Center at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8.

The ceremony is open to the public and will be followed by a reception in the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts, where Aldridge is one of the featured artists in the current exhibit.

Although Ralph Aldridge, appointed as a William Woods board member and trustee in 1962, never made it to college, “he held a great appreciation for education,” his daughter said.

As a contractor, he devoted time and energy to improving William Woods. From dredging Senior Lake to construction of university roads, Aldridge was glad there were “things he could do within his power [for the university],” Donna Aldridge explained.

Serving on the board of directors for 20 years, Aldridge was honored in 1964 for his dedication to the university. Aldridge Recreation Center was constructed alongside Junior Lake.

Aldridge’s younger daughter, Margaret Aldridge Morris, class of ’66, attended William Woods right after the building first opened. In 1973, officials at William Woods asked alumna and artist Donna Aldridge to paint a portrait of her father for display in the recreation center.

However, when her father viewed the painting, “he loved it so much [that] he nailed it on the wall, then and there,” recalls Aldridge. The portrait remained in their home until both of her parents passed away.

Now, almost three decades after doing the portrait, Aldridge returns to William Woods for the official unveiling. “It means so much to me to have the painting where it was intended 29 years earlier,” she said.

“For him to be a part of William Woods in this way means so much to the family. He really loved William Woods and was proud of the college.”