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From left, Alabama Music Hall of Fame Manager Dixie Griffin announced her retirement during Tuesday's board meeting. Board Chairwoman Sara Hamlin and board member Lynn Robinson look on. [RUSS COREY/TIMESDAILY]

TUSCUMBIA — Dixie Griffin has seen good times and bad times during her 21-year tenure at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

This month marks five years since the state music attraction reopened with Griffin as manager. On Tuesday during the board of directors' quarterly meeting, Griffin announced her retirement.

"This board has supported me as I put new goals and events in place," Griffin said. "I am forever grateful for this experience and the friendships that have come with it."

Griffin said her retirement will be effective Jan. 1. Board members Judy Ryals, Judy Hood and State Tourism Director Lee Sentell were appointed to a search committee tasked with finding a new director. The board wants to complete its search by Oct. 15 and have a new director in place by the end of October so that person would have a couple of months to work alongside Griffin.

The director's position will offer a salary between $40,000-$50,000.

"What Dixie managed to do was reinvent the place," Sentell said. "We've all had some rich experiences here these past five years."

Griffin said she came to work in 1995, about five years after the Alabama Music Hall of Fame opened. She retired about 16 years later as the attraction was about to be closed. When the state agreed to reopen the facility in October 2013, Griffin was tapped to be the director.

She said there have been many high points since the hall of fame reopened, but perhaps the biggest was the community's acceptance of the attraction. Griffin said they were able to complete several projects, many at no or very little cost, due to volunteers and donations of materials and labor. She also praised her small, but hardworking staff.

Then there were the concerts in the lobby that were so well attended, second shows had to be scheduled. Those concerts helped raise $3,000-$6,000 each. 

"People finally realized how important it was and wanted to be a part of it," Griffin said. "It's been a great, big dream come true."

When Sentell hired her, Griffin said he told her she could work as long as she wanted. Nobody really expected it to remain open as long as it did and interest would wane once the buzz from the "Muscle Shoals" documentary wore off. The community, however, realized that promoting the Shoals' music history could be a money maker.

"We can hire another director, but we can never replace Dixie," Hood said. "It's all in her head and her heart."

Tuscumbia Mayor Kerry Underwood said he appreciated the relationship Griffin helped cultivate with the city.

He said Griffin made the hall of fame a place where people wanted to come and gave them multiple reasons to come to the hall of fame throughout the year. 

"We're grateful for what she's done to make us a part of the hall of fame family, the way she connects to us," Underwood said. "She made it very interactive and a part of our lives and Tuscumbia has benefited from that. We wouldn't trade our relationship with her for anything."


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