LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announced on Tuesday that it received the largest individual gift in the non-profit’s history.

The ASO said that the gift came from Lee Ronnel, longtime supporter and former board chairman of the ASO.

Ronnel, who passed away in January, was the founder and president of the Metal Recycling Corporation of Little Rock as well as a professionally trained pianist. He had been a staunch supporter of the ASO for more than half a century.

“Lee’s support, friendship and commitment to the arts have helped the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra grow and thrive since our earliest days. He truly loved supporting musicians and their work,” ASO CEO Christina Littlejohn said.

The ASO announced that, in honor of Ronnel’s gift, they would be establishing the E. Lee Ronnel Music Academy. Ronnel’s wife and ASO board member Dale Ronnel spoke on what she hopes this gift accomplishes.

“Lee understood the power of music and the arts to lift people up and bring them together,” Dale Ronnel said. “I hope this gift inspires others to give their support to the arts and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.”