Jim Buice column: Recognizing a star who hand-painted a mural

Published 12:03 am Thursday, January 5, 2023

Maybe you’ve heard of Hilda Gentry McKnight, who was known in this community for making Moravian Advent stars.
However, there’s more to the story behind McKnight, who passed away last month at the age of 87, and Larry Kirby, the longtime public works director and former town manager, wanted to make sure she isn’t forgotten.
“I’m here on behalf of us old people who enjoy history,” Kirby said during the public comments portion of the December Clemmons Village Council meeting. “When Clemmons was formed, we had a lot of folks who stepped up and loved this community and did everything they could to be helpful and make it grow.”
Kirby explained that McKnight was responsible for doing the hand-painted mural in village hall and made a request of the council to go into the 1994 meeting minutes and look up the dedication of the mural and add the date of her passing as a footnote to history.
“We lost someone that was very important to this community, and most of you don’t know her or know what she did,” Kirby said. “She was a lady who put everyone else first. Al Dillon was our manager when we moved into this building, and he went to Hilda and asked her to do something to recognize the village of Clemmons. So those of you who don’t know that mural hanging behind you was hand-painted by Mrs. McKnight, and it took her three months to do it.”
Besides the mural, Kirby added that McKnight, who was a retired school teacher and faithful member of Clemmons Moravian Church, was considered “the mother of making Moravian stars” and was invited to the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian in Washington, where she taught people how to make them.
“The day is going to come when somebody will want to get rid of this mural or do something else, and when you do it’s going to be worth a lot more than you think it is,” Kirby said. “So I’m requesting this for Hilda’s sake and the sake of knowledge and history.”

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The Christmas season was made much brighter with a visit by the Salem Band to Clemmons First Baptist Church for a special free holiday concert — Christmas at the Movies.
The band, which celebrated its 250th year anniversary In 2021, is the oldest, continuous mixed wind ensemble in the country, and it certainly didn’t disappoint on the Tuesday night leading up to Christmas.
Playing before a packed house, the talented group of musicians put on a dazzling performance that included all the traditional songs and carols from a variety of films and TV shows along with some sing-alongs.
Eileen Young, the band’s music director, made a point in her remarks to connect each of the songs to a particular movie. It made me want to rush home and start searching for some of them to watch — led by White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’ve seen bits of all of these classics over the years but maybe not the entire movie in lots of cases. That changed this year thanks to the Salem Band’s wonderful Christmas production.
I hope the band will make visiting Clemmons a regular part of its annual holiday schedule.
And speaking of Christmas traditions, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights was another big hit in 2022. It never gets old driving through the sparkling displays with our grandsons popping their heads through the sunroof, even with a few drops of rain falling on the night of our visit, and watching their animated reactions to all the sights and sounds.
What a treasure to have something like this right in our backyard!

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Inflation’s reach is spreading everywhere — even to the pickleball courts.
It was early last year when Forsyth County officials confirmed the approval of spending $200,000 toward the development of nine pickleball courts at Lewisville’s Joanie Moser Park. These pickleball-specific courts will replace the two existing tennis courts — that have been transformed to accommodate the world’s fastest-growing sport — and one basketball court.
Now comes word from the latest county commissioners meeting that bids to construct the new complex came in significantly higher, as in more than $140,000 above what is in place for the project.
Unfortunately, that’s just the cost of doing business these days.