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Still a shining star

It was typical of Shirley Patton that, as she accepted a bouquet of flowers marking her six decades with the Tudor Guild, she insisted on praising those who were honoring her.

“In later years you all have done so much more than what I did,” she said. “You all deserve this.”

Patton, 81, not only spent 60 years giving her time to the organization that supports the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she spent 30 seasons as a member of the OSF acting company. She and her husband, Bill, whom she met on her first day in Ashland, were synonymous with the festival he led from 1953 to 1995.

Shirley Patton played more than 50 roles for OSF, and has taken on many more since leaving the festival, acting for community theater companies including Camelot, Southern Oregon University and the Craterian.

In addition to her stage work, Jefferson Public Radio listeners know her as the voice of the local history series As it Was. And she’s not through yet.

Patton will star in Camelot Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Gin Game,” opening May 1. The play consists of a series of gin rummy matches between a man and a woman in a nursing home. He teaches her to play, and she proceeds to beat him while the pair discuss their families and the outside world.

Patton should be perfect for the play’s witty repartee. At the Tudor Guild meeting, she quipped, “I’m an ancient artifact.”

May her star continue shining.

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