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Kuss legacy retains influence

Memorial concert now in 17th year.

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Anytime someone enters the main auditorium in the Clark State Performing Arts Center, their influence is felt.

Few may think about the namesake of the Kuss Auditorium, but the benevolence of the late Richard L. and Barbara D. Kuss has been far-reaching in Springfield.

The Kusses didn’t just make Springfield their lifelong home, they worked to try to improve it for all residents.

A further appreciation of their legacy is the Richard L. and Barbara D. Kuss Memorial Concert, an annual free concert now in its 17th year at the Performing Arts Center.

This year’s will feature performer Jim Witter’s “I Write the Songs — The Music of Barry Manilow” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26.

The Kusses, along with other benevolent-minded Springfield citizens Carleton F. and Ruth T. Davidson and Harry Turner, were the top three contributors to the Performing Arts Center, which honored each by having their names attached to areas of the Center, said Norma Dillon, co-trustee of the Carleton F. and Ruth T. Davidson Trust along with Douglas Rice.

When Barbara passed away in 1999, the Davidson Trust suggested a memorial concert in her name.

“Mr. Davidson and Mr. Kuss were friends, and we thought it would be a nice to have a memorial concert,” Dillon said. “(Richard) appreciated what we did. He was involved in an awful lot of things for Springfield.”

After Richard passed in 2010, the concert name was amended to include both Kusses.

Richard and Barbara were involved in countless area organizations and causes, and both graduated from Springfield City Schools.

Richard returned from World War II to work in numerous local businesses, including the Bonded Oil Company, which is now Speedway SuperAmerica LLC. He also served on local boards of other numerous area industries.

Richard was a Wittenberg University graduate, and Barbara was an honorary alumna, with the school honoring her with the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center.

Dillon said one of the ideas behind the concert being admission-free was to hopefully get people who have never been to a show there to see one, a sentiment the Kusses would have applauded.