ELKHART — A man with a history of showing his love for the theater got a little bit of that love returned on Monday morning.
Art Decio, a board member for the Lerner Theatre and an emeritus member of the University of Notre Dame board of trustees, was honored on Monday when he discovered his name was emblazoned on a plaque in the lobby of the Lerner Theatre.
“Everyone around you that knows you becomes a better person, and I am no exception,” Mayor Tim Neese told Decio. “You’re the person that, when we’re in need of something, we go to – and you always say yes to the city of Elkhart.”
Several years ago, Neese said, Decio was part of a panel assessing the viability of the ELCO theater and whether or not it was feasible to remake the property into what is today the Lerner Theatre.
“Art not only was instrumental in raising the money but was probably the largest financial contributor,” Neese said.
Decio, founder of Skyline Corp., appeared on a 1965 cover of Time, honoring him in its “Millionaires Under 40” issue. Decio is known for the millions of dollars he’s donated to charity, advisory boards he’s served on, and time spent leading and volunteering. Decio is also known for his work with the Salvation Army, United Way, local colleges and several churches, including those in Jerusalem.
“The theater has something to do with making people happy,” Decio said. “I was a customer in this theater when I was 9 years old.”
He recalled seeing “Gone With the Wind” with his parents at the ELCO.
In honor of Decio’s work for the city and the theater, the central gathering place of the building was named, during a special meeting of the Lerner Theatre, the Art Decio Donor Lobby.
Decio was presented with a plaque in the lobby in his honor, as well as his name above the lobby entrance. The plaque declares that Decio’s “guidance, leadership and support have enriched the lives of the residents through the promotion of arts and entertainment.”