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Former Embassy director Stovall dies in Georgia

Stovall, 1997

Doris Stovall came out of retirement to help the Embassy Theatre put on the shows it always had – but better – and take the venue to a new level.

Taking the executive director role, she was responsible for spearheading the Embassy’s last major renovation in 1995.

Stovall died on Jan. 28 at the age of 79 in Snellville, Ga.

Embassy executive director Kelly Updike said although she never met Stovall, she has heard from many community leaders and Embassy board members of the work Stovall was able to complete during her tenure. The historic theater, which was nearly torn down in 1972, was due for a major upgrade by the early 1990s.

Stovall came out of retirement to take the executive position with the theater.

“Having the benefit of old files and records, she was the best at organizing contracts and management,” Updike said. “She brought a long-standing quality to the theater internally and externally.”

In 1995, Stovall directed the Embassy through a $5 million renovation campaign that included a larger stage and orchestra lift to accommodate traveling shows, an increase in leg room between rows of seats on the main floor, and a revamp of the Embassy lobby and the Indiana Hotel lobby.

Stovall told The Journal Gazette in 1996 that she had been involved with the restoration of three theaters, with the Embassy being her most satisfying project to complete.

“Theaters like the Embassy just make you feel good. Every time I look up at this ceiling, I find something new,” she said.

Updike said Stovall called her last summer to say that she was pleased to hear about the theater’s next construction phase, which will begin later this year. The $10 million renovation includes a major overhaul of the Indiana Hotel, which has stood mostly empty since the 1970s. The hotel will have new offices, classrooms and a two-story ballroom to help relieve the theater’s limited space capacities.

“She was very pleased and proud of what we’re planning to do and she went on about the great job I was doing – and I treasure that,” Updike says. “I really took it as a powerful statement.”

Updike said that she and the staff plan to continue to build on what Stovall left behind.

“I think Doris left a strong legacy when she left, and it warms my heart that we can continue on that path.”

Stovall, a Georgia graduate of Toccoa High School in 1951 and Harrison-Draughon School of Commerce in 1953, served as the former president and board member of Rotary International and the International Association of Assembly Members.

She also was the former director of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Southern California. A memorial service was held Saturday in Snellville.

The family of Doris Stovall has requested that memorial donations be made to the Embassy Theatre Foundation. Call 424-5665 for more information.