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Bill Kirby Jr.: Paul Beard treasures the photograph on the cabinet by his desk


When you are in Paul Beard’s line of work, you come to meet a plethora of people from athletes to entertainment legends.

Beard has served as assistant manager and manager for the Crown Complex in Fayetteville  and today is general manager of the Florence Center in Florence, South Carolina.

He’s been doing some thinking of late.

“When you do what I do for as long as I have, you have the honor of meeting many stars and wonderful people that bring entertainment and happiness into our sometimes boring lives,” says Beard, 67. “What goes along with the ‘being in the business’ for this long is you sometimes lose those that have touched you in some way. They may have been singers, Olympic skaters, Disney characters, Monster Truck drivers, rodeo cowboys, high school and college graduates, and military members deploying or (hopefully) returning home.”

The list, Beard says, is endless.

“However, some of those have in a brief moment in my life touched me with their kindness and charisma,” he says.

Olivia Newton-John was one of those people.

Nov. 13, 2003
“There was a genuine warmth and personality that radiated from her the likes of which I have seen too few times,” Beard says about the singer, who performed at the Crown Theatre on Nov. 13, 2003.

More than likely, others who find themselves working in the entertainment business at coliseums, theaters, arenas and outdoor events will say as much about Olivia Newton-John, who sang such melodic songs as “Hopelessly Devoted to You,”  “Let Me Be There,” “Summer Nights,” “I Honestly Love You,” “A Little More Love,” “You’re the One That I Want,” “Xanadu,” “Let’s Get Physical,”  “Suddenly” and “Magic.”

She made her film debut in the 1978 musical “Grease” with John Travolta and in 1980 starred in “Xanadu” with the late Gene Kelly.

Olivia Newton-John was 73 when she died Aug. 8 at her southern California home after a 30-year battle with breast cancer.

Most entertainment venue managers usually are busy attending to tour managers, sound and light folks, and stage setups for concerts prior to shows. They only occasionally find themselves one-on-one with the entertainer.

But Paul Beard did have the opportunity to meet Olivia Newton-John.

“She stopped me,” he says. “She was just as sweet as she could be.”
He cherishes the moment.

“While I have many, only a few photos occupy my office or home space,” Beard says about the photograph of himself with the singer. “Olivia’s sits on the top of a cabinet to the right of my desk within arm’s length. Sometimes when it is a particularly crappy day, all I need do is look to my side and see her radiant smile and it somehow can make it a little easier to bear. There have been a few others that have been gracious human beings and others that I would have been happy to have never met.”

Paul Beard never will forget Olivia Newton-John.

He treasures the photograph by his desk.

“She was one of a kind in a society that, unfortunately, has forgotten civility and kindness,” Beard says. “May she rest in peace.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Bill Kirby Jr., Olivia Newton-John, Fayetteville, Crown Complex