Estelle Condra passed away Saturday Nov. 27 from a brain tumor.
Estelle was a long time supporter, mentor, and Board member of Borderless Arts TN. She provided children’s programs, made connections for international art exchanges and found money for the organization when there was none to be found. Her support and light is beyond compare and her passing will leave a huge hole in our hearts and organization.
The following is taken from her obituary:
Estelle was born Estelle Ferreira near Johannesburg, South Africa. She lost her sight due to a hereditary disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa. Becoming totally blind in the early 1990s, the threads of losing her sight gradually over many years are woven throughout her life and work.
After a diverse career in theatre arts on three continents, including work in South Africa, England, and the United States, she enhanced her acting career with teaching, writing, and speaking. She owned and operated speech and drama schools both in South Africa and the United States. After marrying and moving to Carrollton, Georgia, in 1973, she quickly brought new arts to the town through her children’s drama school. Then, after only three years in America, Estelle was recruited to research, write, and produce White Warrior, an award-winning bicentennial pageant about the Creek Indians in Georgia around the time of Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans.
After moving to Nashville in 1979 she opened her drama school, Imagination Station and also performed professionally in venues from the Kennedy Center to Wolf Trap to Lincoln Center and in Nashville for the Nashville Children’s Theatre, the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, and the Nashville Institute for the Arts. Following that, she created many plays and one-woman shows including her autobiographical “Caged,” which was presented in New York and at the 96 Atlanta Paralympics, her irreverent comedy, “Blind People Shouldn’t Vacuum”, and “Vibrations of Laughter”, the story of Annie Sullivan. A recognized children’s author, her award-winning book, See the Ocean was published in 1994.
Her many awards include the 2011 Tennessee Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award, and the Professional Artist of the Year award from Borderless Arts in 2003.
Though totally blind herself, Estelle brought her magical light into the lives of others and inspiration wherever she went. And she traveled far and wide, to over 50 countries, with adventures including snow skiing, hiking, and camel riding in Morocco, Jordan, and Mongolia, riding horseback into Wyoming’s Absaroka mountains to camp and fly fish, as well as numerous camping safaris in Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.
An avid reader, Estelle took full advantage of the wonderful Library of Congress audiobooks for the blind service over many years. Often reading 2-3 books per week, she was active for many years in the Vanderbilt Women’s Book Club. She was a long term star member in the Friends of South Africa and local knitting groups as well.
Following a Condra family tradition, Estelle chose to donate her body for research at Vanderbilt Medical School. A celebration of Estelle’s life is planned for Wednesday, December 29, 11:00 AM at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville.
The end of Estelle’s obituary states “In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Borderless Arts Tennessee”. We were unaware that she was going to make this generous request and are honored and humbled at the gesture. For those of you wishing to follow her wishes, you may make a donation through our PayPal at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=NGEG2M222YPEE or you may mail a donation to Borderless Arts TN 544 W Main St #164 Gallatin TN 37066. We will send you a receipt and thank you note. We will also send a note to David Condra at the end of the year with the names of everyone who donated in Estelle’s honor.