|Birth: ||Feb. 5, 1913|
West Point (Fayette County)
|Death: ||Jul. 25, 1973|
Playwright. Leonard Ramsey Yelvington was born to Jesse Leonard (b. 3/27/1892 Lavernia, Wilson County TX) and Sarah Gillespie ( b. 1889, Texas ) Yelvington. Attended public schools in Smithville. The Yelvingtons moved to San Antonio in the 1920's, and Ramsey graduated from Brackenridge High School. He matriculated at Howard Payne College, later transferring to Baylor University at Waco to study drama under Dr. Paul Baker. Short of just 3 required credits, Yelvington left Baylor without graduating. He was to work at several Texas radio stations before the outbreak of World War II, enlisting with the United States Army Corps of Engineers stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. His sole assignment was to write for the base newspaper. In 1942 Yelvington married Louise Durham and eventually had two daughters. After the war he lived in Wimberley, TX, writing short stories and raising livestock. His first book (1950) was titled "The Roaring Kleinschmids". He then turned to writing Texas plays. His first play was "Home to Galveston": then came "Cocklebur" and "The Long Gallery" (the later two were produced at Baylor University in the early 1950's by his former teacher Paul Baker). 1958 brought "The Long Gallery" which debuted off-Broadway in New York . "Women and Oxen", "A Cloud of Witnesses", and "Shadow of an Eagle" compose what was later known as Yelvington's "A Texian Trilogy". After "Shadow of an Eagle" was produced at the Dallas Theatre Center, he received both Danforth and Rockefeller grants for his abilities, allowing him to complete his formal education at Baylor, where he received his Master of Arts degree.
With a newfound credibility and academic standing, Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University at San Marcos) hired him to be a drama/speech professor and playwright-in-residence. While at SWTSU wrote several plays produced by James Barton, some of which were produced at the university's outdoor Glade Theater (still in existence). Part of the university's current lore is that Yelvington's ghost haunts the "green room" the Fine Arts Center because he died two days after his final play "The Folklorist" opened in the SWTSU Theatre on July 23, 1973. His daughter, Harriet had produced it herself. A portrait of Ramsey hangs in the Texas State University theatre - the lone adornment in its lobby. His "Cloud of Witnesses" was a seasonal favorite at the Palo Duro Canyon theater - the former haunts of then-young artist Georgia O'Keefe at Canyon, TX.
He was elected a member of the Texas Insitute of Letters, and was the founding president of the Texas Playwright's Company. He was a voraciously well-read historian (member: Texas State Historical Commission) and philosopher (member: Philosophical Society of Texas). His tombstone includes the three words " Texan - Playwright - Baptist ". His widow Louise re-married another Baptist gentleman: the Rev. Dr. William Denham. Jr., the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Austin, TX (now deceased).
Yelvington's papers may be found at: Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin, the Margo Jones Collection in Dallas (SMU), and the Southwestern Writers' Collection at Texas State University at San Marcos.
- J Yelvington
(Respectfully entered by G. Walton)
It looks like Ramseys' stone headstone reads: TEXAS FIRST PLAYWRIGHT
San Marcos Cemetery
Created by: widowsson
Record added: Sep 02, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 15585585