Earl Brown honored for theater efforts

WHEELING – Earl Brown served in the Army, headed up the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for the state of West Virginia and worked for nearly 20 years to preserve a piece of Wheeling’s past.

For these actions, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has awarded Brown the Distinguished Mountaineer award.

“This is one of the highest awards which can be given in the state of West Virginia,” said Gene Stewart, assistant to Tomblin. “We are very proud to acknowledge an outstanding West Virginian.”

And Brown’s award is unique in that it likely is the only one that states the recipient “does an outstanding impression of Elvis Presley.”

The Victoria Theatre on Market Street in Wheeling is 104 years old, and it hosted some of the biggest name acts of the early- to mid-20th century.

It still functions as a performance hall under Brown’s care. Under his leadership, the venue still hosts its own Jamboree show, as well as artists performing everything from bluegrass to rock ‘n’ roll.

“I’ve been here just short of 20 years,” said Brown. “I’m just preserving the songs of yesteryear. To get an award like this, I feel greatly honored.”

“Earl, you’re preserving history here,” said Stewart. “You’re also giving upcoming stars a chance here.”

Brown also recently received the Keeper of the Flame award from the Zanesville chapter of the Ohio Country Music Association.

That honor recognizes Brown for keeping the Victoria Jamboree alive and for preserving live, professional classic country music and rock ‘n’ roll in a family atmosphere.

“I would like to thank all involved for this public acknowledgment,” Brown said.