Panhandlers Square Dance Club says goodbye to caller
Rich Steadman, of Front Royal, Virginia, officially retired after 30 years of calling for the Panhandlers Square Dance Club on April 7.
The club, which meets during the school year at Eagle School Intermediate on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 7 to 10 p.m., is led by co-presidents Charlotte and Ron Sowers, of Shepherdstown.
“The caller is the person who tells the dancers on the floor what to do,” Ron Sowers said. “If he says ‘Do-si-do’ or ‘Swing your partner,’ that’s what you do. So it’s very important to have a reliable caller.”
According to Sowers, Steadman announced his retirement during the club’s semimonthly dance on the first Saturday of April.
Steadman, who has had a 40-year career in calling, will continue to guest call for the club and at other square dancing events.
“He has called his last dance for us, and the next one that he calls will be for the Virginia State Convention in three weeks at Virginia Beach,” Charlotte said.
“I’m sure he’s going to continue to call here, there and everywhere – in September, we’ve got him scheduled to guest call a barn dance for us,” Ron said. “He’s not leaving the country, but I guess the thing we’ll miss most of all about Rich is his loyalty to the club and his friendly personality.”
“He’s just a wonderful person, and I think if I had to pick one thing, his absolute loyalty and honesty are really great,” Ron added, mentioning he and his wife have personally known Steadman for seven years.
“His friendship, his loyalty, his knowledge of square dancing – there’s many, many things about him we admire. Everybody likes him, it’s just great,” Ron said.
Although the club will miss Steadman, it will continue to celebrate the art of square dancing for years to come with its new caller, who has over 30 years of experience.
The club will be hosting an appreciation dance and dinner at Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town to honor Steadman on June 3, with dancing from 2 to 5 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m. Currently, 100 to 150 dancers are anticipated to attend the event.
“Rich knows so many people, he’s been square dancing for so long, and calling for so long. At least five people have contacted us, saying they’d like to call for his appreciation dance,” Ron Sowers said.
To attend Steadman’s appreciation dance or for more information, call 304-268-7619, 304-876-1130 or 304-724-7901.