It is with deep sadness and heavy heart that we announce the passing of Mary Eugenia Johnson Baird from cancer on February 20, 2023, in San Antonio, TX. Mary was a devoted wife, loving mother, doting grandmother, generous daughter, sister, and friend. She chose to live a life of meaningful acts of love and service by faithfully serving in civil service positions, volunteering, and being a consistent advocate for those in need. She received her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Services cum laude, from Rider College, Lawrenceville, NJ, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English cum laude from St. Mary’s College, Leavenworth, Kansas. Mary served as Transitional Services Manager and Volunteer Services Coordinator for SAMMinistries for 7 years and the Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS) for 13 years. She was a dedicated volunteer instructor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and President of the St. Matthew’s Catholic Church Mission and Cancer Support Group. Mary was the recent Secretary for the Pastoral Council and choir member for the children’s Mass and Commentator.
Mary is survived by her devoted husband, Raymond D. Baird, five children: Daniel S. Baird (wife Claudia Valenzuela), Jeanette M. Bruno (husband John), Timothy D. Baird, Theresa M. Kirk (husband Michael), and Christopher F. Baird. Ten grandchildren; Stephen Tyler, Daniel Trenton, Daniella, Alejandra, Seth, Syrus, Ashley, Margo, Karen, and Zoe. Her surviving siblings are Margaret Johnson Williams of Denver, CO, Louis Johnson of Wheat Ridge, CO, Walter Johnson (wife Louise Ramunno-Johnson) of Vancouver, WA. Mary is deeply missed and forever in our hearts.
On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, a viewing will take place between 5 to 9 p.m. with a community rosary scheduled at 7 p.m. followed by a eulogy at the Funeraria del Angel Trevino, 226 Cupples Rd, SA, TX 78237. A Celebration of Life Mass will be held on Wednesday, March 15, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 10703 Wurzbach Rd, SA, TX 78230. Burial will occur immediately following the service at 11:30 a.m. at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach Rd., SA, TX 78209.
In lieu of flowers, in honor of Mary’s memory, contributions may be made to NAMI at https://donate.nami.org/give/197406/#!/donation/checkout
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.funerariadelangelcupples.com for the Baird family.
A military service at Ft. Sam Houston are planned after the new year and information will be posted on his Facebook page.
Jocelyn Levi Straus, one of San Antonio’s most successful community leaders and master fund-raiser, who voluntarily raised millions of dollars to enhance the economic and cultural growth of San Antonio and South Texas, died peacefully at her home, October 8, surrounded by her immediate family, including her beloved husband of 70 years, Joe R. Straus, Jr.
Joci was born January 20, 1931, in Wilkes Barre, PA. to Macolm Levi and Jocelyn Bronson Levi. Her father, a silk manufacturer who dreamed of becoming a rancher, sold his factory before the Depression and in 1934, packed the young family – including Joci, age 3, and her older brother Mike – in their car and headed West. Their last stop was San Antonio, where Levi purchased his first ranch on Old Blanco Road, which is now Timberwood Park.
Joci attended St. Mary’s Hall from first grade through her graduation. She attended Mills College in California, leaving her senior year to marry Joe R. Straus, Jr., a family friend since childhood.
The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on June 25, 2022. They were a perfect match— with the same sense of values, humor and interests including fly-fishing, traveling, planning trips across the country with their children and supporting each other in their work and passions. Joci also was a prolific gardener throughout her life, designing gardens for every home, even through her 80s.
Joe told their three children in a family history book, “Always Meant to Be,” “while Joci and I had our hands in political campaigns, restoring theatres, and introducing Texas to the joy of horse racing, nothing has been more important to us than building our family. Each of you is incredibly special not only to us, but to the world, so never be afraid to make your mark.”
Joci credits her parents for instilling the values of civic duty and the importance of helping to build a city. As a couple they instilled those same values in their children and grandchildren, reminding them in the same book to: “be passionate” about your work and your interests,” “be patient” and “have a purpose.”
Joci’s passions, after her family, were the arts, health care, education, and politics, becoming active in the latter through a desire to help move Texas from being a largely Democratic state to one evenly balanced between Democrats and Republicans.
She first got involved as chairman of the Nixon Girls, a group of women who supported Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. From there, she served as precinct chair, where she made it her mission to know every person in the precinct and walked door to door registering voters. Her success at adding people to the rolls was huge. Her national reputation began to soar as an exceptional fundraiser when she was John Tower’s finance chair in 1961 for his first campaign for U.S. Senator, which he won, becoming the first Republican U.S. Senator from Texas since Reconstruction.
For the next 45 years, Joci would serve either as finance or fundraising chair for more than 30 campaigns, including President George W. Bush; Senators Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchinson; most Republican governors since Bill Clements; U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, and State Senator Cyndi Krier. Most notably, she served as Texas campaign co-chair and then as head of the finance committee for George H.W. Bush’s three presidential campaigns.
She says politics fascinated her not because of power but because “you can make so many wonderful things happen behind the scenes. I’m really interested in seeing results. I don’t care what party you belong to now that we’ve got a two-party system in Texas. I’m very good about saying, ‘Just go vote!’ “
After one of the successful presidential campaigns, someone asked if she would like an ambassadorship or another presidential appointment. She thought about it for a minute and said, “I just want to be postmistress of Alamo Heights!”
Her last campaign role was for the first election of her son, Joe R. Straus III, to the Texas House of Representatives. He was then elected Texas Speaker of the House by his peers and served in that role for a decade.
In the early 1980s, she was asked to be the first chair of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). She held that position for 17 years.
During the 15-year tenure of the Health Science Center’s president, John P. Howe, III, Joci worked tirelessly under his leadership to recruit and build the Center’s donor base and quadrupled research spending from $32 to $124 million.
“She is directly responsible for the excellence we now appreciate at the Health Science Center by inspiring philanthropy focused on faculty recruitment and scholarship,” said Francisco Cigarroa, former UTHSCSA president and Chancellor of the University of Texas System.
Joci’s involvement with United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County allowed her to continue her passion and advocacy of health care, education, and women in business.
After serving on the board and chairing the United Way’s annual campaign, Joci created and served as the founding chair of the Women’s Leadership Council to tap into women’s vast ownership of private wealth and encourage their roles as business executives and owners. The council started with a dozen women leaders and 500 members and today has more than 3,000 members. Now known as Women United, the organization has become part of United Way in every major city.
Perhaps her most public legacy is visible with the preservation and restoration of the Majestic and Empire theatres, which were scheduled for demolition in the mid-1980s.
Joci created the non-profit Las Casas Foundation to raise money for the restoration after she was asked to become involved with a public-private partnership, including Arts Center Enterprises and the city of San Antonio.
In spite of the 1980s real estate crisis, Joci raised $4.5 million for Phase I of the restoration, and the Majestic reopened September 19, 1989, for the fall season of Off-Broadway shows and the San Antonio Symphony.
From 1989 to 1998, under Joci’s leadership, Las Casas raised $13.9 million for Phases I and II of the Majestic, and Phase III, the restoration of the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre.
Following the first major restorations, Joci encouraged Las Casas to create an annual scholarship competition. Now in it its 14th year, Las Casas Foundation’s Performing Arts Scholarship Program has given more than $1.2 million to talented students pursuing higher education degrees in the performing arts. Las Casas named their awards the “Jocis,” which are given annually to the top winners in each category.
To honor Joci’s contributions to the preservation of the theatres and the shaping of future generations of theatre patrons, the city named the downtown area that houses the two theatres the “Joci Straus Performing Arts Center.”
Joci also received a presidential appointment from Ronald Reagan to serve on the National Endowment for the Arts, where she met artists from all over the country, and brought several to the Majestic, including legendary Blues performer, B.B. King.
She was a member of the Texas Cultural Trust Council and the founder of its Texas Medal of Arts Awards.
Throughout her years, Joci has been awarded with numerous recognitions for her fundraising, but perhaps the highest honor she received was the opportunity to meet Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks. Barbara Bush invited Joci to the White House for a private tea she was having with Parks. They were invited to the Lincoln Bedroom where Parks quietly studied the Emancipation Proclamation. Joci recalled spending that time with Parks was a moment she would always cherish.
She has earned plenty of honors over the years, and all sorts of trophies and photographs filled the shelves over the desk in her home office. Of these many honors, she said: “that’s not important. The important thing is that we spend time with the people we love.”
She was predeceased by her parents and her brother.
Survivors include her husband of 70 years, Joe R. Straus, Jr., and their three children and spouses, Lyn Selig (Peter), Susan Straus, and Joe R. Straus III (Julie), as well as her sister-in-law, Debbie Straus.
Joci also is survived by four grandchildren, who knew her affectionately as “Yaya,” Stuart Selig (Laura); Jocelyn Selig Aramburu (Jason) of San Francisco, CA; Sara Straus of Los Angeles, CA and Robyn Straus, of New York City, as well as five great-grandchildren, Peter, Ford and Emilie Selig, and Jocelyn “Soleil” and Ella Aramburu.
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, October 14, 2022, at Temple Beth-El in the Wulfe Sanctuary, 211 Belknap Place, with a private burial. For those unable to attend, please click here to view a livestream of the service. In lieu of flowers, and if desired, contributions may be made to the Las Casas Foundation, the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio, or the charity of one’s choice.
The Straus family is eternally grateful for Dr. Mark Thornton, Dr. Sudha Seshadri, Dr. Neela Patel, Heart of Texas Hospice, Martha Cave of Helping Our Seniors and her wonderful caregivers: Stacy-Ann Miller, Leondra White, Charslyn Washington, Julia Cabral, Tasha Henderson, Kumbah Turay, Clara Johnson, Eunice Hendricks, Xiomara Johnson, Ana Guerra and their devoted housekeeper of 22 years, Stella Alvarado.
Melinda Marie Fuller, 47, passed away suddenly on Saturday, July 23,2022 at her home in San Antonio, Texas.
Mindy was born December 28, 1974, at USAF Hospital in Torrejon De Ardoz, Madrid, Spain to Roger and Jean Feedham. She graduated High School at Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan. Always a student at heart, she furthered her education by getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southwest Texas State, 2 Master’s – one of Science and one of Business administration From Our Lady of the Lake University and finally this year a PhD in Education from University of Incarnate Word.
Mindy was a very talented actress and well-loved member of the theater community in San Antonio.
She is survived by her husband, Brett, and son Ronin. Her parents, Roger, and Jean Feedham of Seguin; Siblings: Roger Feedham of California; Kathy & Dave Raggio of Florida; Elizabeth & Javier Yanas of Henderson, TX; Jean-Marie & Jim Crahan or Seguin; Ann-Marie & David Morgan of Virginia, .; Paul Feedham of Seguin. In-laws, Craig and Deborah Fuller or New Braunfels, Sister-in-Law, Amy West & Mike West of Annandale, VA; Brother-in-law, Jarrett Tate Fuller & Kelly of Cibolo. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews, Giuliana, Karli, J.D. Raggio; Ashley Butler, Breanna Diaz, Bo and Zachary Yanas; Brynne and Izzy Reilly; Joshua Morgan; Andrew, Grace, Caleb & Sarah West; Tatum Fuller, Kohltyn, Brycen & Kambryn Mauricio.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Bobby Flores, a legendary Texas western swing and country music multi-instrumentalist who played with Willie Nelson and Ray Price.
Many in the theatre community had the privilege to work with this amazingly talented and decorated artist. He played fiddle in “Always Patsy Cline” under the baton of our beloved MD, Darrin Newhardt, who also recently worked with him in 2021 on a song for Morgan’s Wonderland.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Jerry Pollock on May 5.
Jerry Lee Pollock was born November 2, 1949 in San Antonio, Texas to Jack Irving Pollock and Jerryl Rives Pollock and passed away on Thursday, May 5, 2022.
Jerry is survived by beloved sons Jon Michael Pollock (Mary Helen Snowden) and James Patrick Pollock; former wife Karla Clayton Pollock; grandsons Jack Tobin Pollock and Jon Ellis Pollock; and brothers James Edwin Pollock (Cynthia) and John Rives Pollock.
Jerry graduated from Southwest Texas State University in 1972 with a degree in Theatre and started teaching theatre at John Jay High School.
He married Karla in 1974, after which he began guest directing at various theatres in San Antonio. In 1976, he was selected to be the Artistic and Managing Director of the San Antonio Little Theatre (now San Pedro Playhouse) after the retirement of esteemed director Joe Salek. Jerry left S.A.L.T. in 1983 to become the managing and artistic director of Bill and Marci Larson’s Church Theatre. When his audience capacity exceeded the limits of Church Theatre, he renovated the old Josephine Movie Theatre and established Alamo City Theatre at the Josephine in 1987. Jerry Pollock was a power-house of exceptional talent.
His mission was to provide outstanding theatre productions highlighting the very best talent in San Antonio. Although Jerry’s heart was in theatre, he was a fine golfer who taught his sons, Jon and James, the art of the game. Jerry leaves behind his loving family members as well as dear theatre friends in San Antonio.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Texas State University Theatre Department in Jerry’s memory or to your favorite charity.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Jerry at the Josephine Theater, 339 W. Josephine St., 78212, on Saturday, July 16, 2-3pm, hosted by Jerry’s sons Jon Michael & James Patrick (JP) and their mom Karla. They welcome all – actors, techs, designers, staff, as well as patrons who enjoyed his shows. There will be short time slots (3 minutes?) to share funny stories about Jerry.
Frances Cuny Richter Swinny was born on October 12, 1923. Frances lived her life with the utmost integrity, always trying to do right by others. For more than nine decades Frances was a strong and ebullient soul beloved by family, friends, colleagues, and countless former students. Frances died on February 9, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. She was 98.
Frances was born in San Diego, California to Frances Cuny and Paul Richter. She was the youngest of four children. When her father retired from the Navy, Frances and her family moved to San Antonio. Frances was 4 years old when the family drove to Texas in a canvas-topped Star with all four kids in the back seat. Frances recalled that at dusk her precious mother made the kids change into pajamas to encourage sleep while their father drove. Upon arrival in San Antonio the family moved into 138 E. Mayfield. Frances adored the family home, touring by it many times in her later years. She was devoted to her parents and siblings, but recalled, laughing, “the worst thing I ever did was sass my mama.” Frances’ family were serious Lutherans. Every Sunday they would drive from Mayfield to Grace Lutheran Church in downtown San Antonio. Frances always said, “we never missed a Sunday.”
By elementary school Frances was taller than all the girls her age. Frances’ five maternal aunts jokingly urged Frances’ mother to, “put a brick on her head” to stunt her growth. Frances skipped a grade, “not because I was smart, but because I was so tall.” However, Frances learned from an early age to be proud of her height. She often quoted her father who said, “don’t slump, be proud of your height, throw your shoulders back.” Frances carried her beautiful height and posture well into her 90’s.
Frances attended Harlandale High School where she was Senior Class President and Editor in Chief of the school paper. She was in the Gold Shirt Band, playing the clarinet, but she always claimed she was not very good. Frances was well liked and admired by her teachers and classmates. She graduated high school in 1940 at the age of 16. After high school, Frances went to work for Mrs. Ely, the Bexar County Tax Assessor. During WWII, Frances performed clerical work at Kelly Field and attended night school at St. Mary’s University. Frances found night school less fulfilling than she’d hoped and she told her father, who she adored, “I’m not getting anywhere.” Despite her father’s desire for Frances to remain close to home, she elected to attend the University of Texas in Austin.
Frances embarked for UT after WWII and lived in a university approved boarding house on University Avenue run by “Mama Copeland.” Frances often regaled family with tales of Patsy, the house cook, and Frances’ favorite dish: cornbread muffin with bacon drippings. Her bed was on the front porch, separated from other boarders by shutters. Because her father was concerned about her safety, he tied a rope to Frances’ bed leg with the instruction, “Puddin’, if there’s ever a fire, throw this rope out the window and shimmy down it.” Frances had many fond recollections of her years at UT and graduated in 1948 with a B.S. in Speech Education and English. After graduation, Frances started teaching at Trinity University at age 25. Frances returned to UT and earned her Master of Education in Special Education—Speech Pathology in 1951.
In her prime, Frances stood 5’11” while sporting a shock of white hair inherited from her father. Frances evolved into an expert seamstress because stylish clothing was not available for a woman of her stature. Frances favored classic tailored attire and high heeled shoes. On many Saturdays Frances drove to Houston Street in her cherished robin’s egg blue Oldsmobile convertible. Though frugal, Frances splurged on the beautiful Oldsmobile with her teacher’s salary. Once she reached downtown San Antonio, she shopped for accessories and shoes to complement the clothing she made. Frances fondly recalled rubbing the soft leather soles of her new high heels on her cheeks. When Frances was “dressed,” she always carried a beautiful handkerchief and regularly sported fashionable hats with kid gloves.
Frances’ mom used to tell her, “Puddin’, you’re too independent, you’ll never get married.” Frances agreed with that notion because in her era the ideal woman was, “five foot two, eyes of blue and I was anything but that!” At Trinity, Frances established a close friendship with a theater student, William Heywood Swinny. Several years after they met, Bill visited Trinity and according to Frances, “he found me in the hallway sharpening my pencil, I was shocked to see him.” Bill had come to inquire, “how about I pick you up and we go to Earl Abel’s after work?” After much thought, Frances agreed to part with some of her independence and Bill and Frances were joyfully married in 1954 at Grace Lutheran Church. For 61 years they maintained their animated banter and remained devoted companions until Bill’s death in 2015.
Bill and Frances began their married life at an apartment on Broadway just across the street from Christ Lutheran Church where they were members for years. Later in their married life, they attended services at Margarite B. Parker Chapel on Trinity’s campus. Frances never migrated far from that first apartment. She lived on Lamont, Evans, Imlay, and then back to Lamont before finally moving to The Forum at Lincoln Heights. A creature of habit, she lived, worked, and recreated within a few mile radius. As agreeable as Frances was her entire life, she had difficulty accepting change.
Frances was a revered and beloved institution at Trinity, where she taught for 42 years in the Speech and Drama Department. During her tenure she provided tireless service to the university. She founded the Trinity University Speech Festival which attracted high school students from across Texas to compete in speech and drama competitions. Frances was always driven to excel and in 1972 she began work on her Ph.D. because, “most of my colleagues have a Ph.D.” By 1980, Frances completed her Ph.D. at UT, though she downplayed the title “Dr. Swinny.” Frances was adored and respected by her students and in 1986 she was the first recipient of the ZT Scott Award for excellence in teaching. Her other awards and recognitions include the Piper Professor Award, Danforth Associate, Chair of the Department of Speech and Drama, membership in numerous professional speech organizations, and authorship of many speeches and publications. After a long, fruitful career, Frances retired in 1990.
Frances began retirement at age 66. Still full of energy and drive, she volunteered at Howard Early Childhood Center and Woodridge Elementary School. In addition, she reveled in time spent with her 6 grandchildren. Frances also enjoyed traveling with family, visiting friends, belonging to the TU Women’s Club, attending her monthly Card Group, entertaining in her home, and attending theatre and music productions. She also maintained her lifelong love of singing. Frances routinely broke out into songs she felt were apropos to the conversation at hand. Her knowledge of lyrics was prodigious, and she often stated, “I always wanted to be a big band singer.” Her energy and zest for life impressed all who knew her. She often would say, “you know I like people.” Her excellent health and longevity where attributable to a lifetime of exercise, including many years of Ball Class and weightlifting at Concord Athletic Club. So dedicated to “doing the right thing,” she continued to drive to Concord into her 90’s. Frances’ primary care physician once marveled at Frances’ health and vigor late in life declaring she was, “a victim of her own success.” Frances lived her life with courage and grace and even as time took its toll, she maintained an optimistic attitude. When asked, “how are you?” her inevitable response was, “I’d be ashamed to complain.”
Her absence will be profoundly felt by her son, Stephen Richter Swinny and wife, Betsy Swinny; her daughter, Lisa Swinny Treat and husband, David Lawrence Treat; her grandchildren, William Wheeler Swinny and husband, Chris V Alcoser; Eric Lawrence Swinny; Chloe Treat and husband, Or Matias; India Treat; Keenan Richter Treat; Bronte Treat; and one great granddaughter, Cora Tzipora Matias-Treat; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her husband Bill; parents Paul Sr. and Frances Richter; brother Paul Richter, Jr. and wife, Frances Richter; brother Robert Richter and wife, Gwen Richter; sister Marguerite Nemky and husband, Harold Nemky. Frances spent her final years at The Forum at Lincoln Heights where she was treasured by many new friends. The family is grateful for the love, care, and compassion provided by the excellent nurses and staff at The Forum and Kindred Hospice.
Memorials in Frances’ honor may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Southern Texas Chapter, 1776 Yorktown, Suite 560, Houston, TX 77056 or a charity of your choice. A gathering to honor Frances will be held at a later date.
It is with a heavy heart that we share news of the passing of a founding member and former Executive Director of The Classic Theatre of San Antonio, an incredible force in our community, and a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, Rick Malone.
“Not only the San Antonio theatre community, but the international world of sound designers will feel the loss of Rick Malone, one of the founders of The Classic Theatre of San Antonio who died on Tuesday, January 18. Although Rick was a major force with The Classic Theatre, he also created sound designs for many other theaters in the community and throughout the nation. Rick had the unique ability to seamlessly blend natural sounds with his own musical compositions to capture the mood of a scene or the quality and ambience of the entire play. Because of his international connections he was able to acquire authentic sound effects and music to create the exact world of the play no matter the historical period or geographic location. If the script called for it, Rick would always find it. We will all miss the masterful sound designs he created.” — Allan Ross, Founding Member of The Classic Theatre of San Antonio
“The board and staff of The Classic are tremendously saddened to hear of the passing of San Antonio theatre great and Classic Theatre founding member, Rick Malone. Our hearts go out to his wife, Diane, and his children, in this difficult time. In the early days of our company, the Malones were instrumental in the planning and day-to-day efforts that kept the theater alive. In later years, they have been lodestars for The Classic, wonderful volunteers, and outspoken supporters of the work created on our stages. Rick’s joviality, technical acumen, artistry and encouragement will certainly be missed, and his valuable contributions will always remain at the core of the theater he helped create and in the hearts of practitioners like myself who worked alongside and learned from him.” — Jimmy Moore, Executive and Artistic Director of The Classic Theatre of San Antonio
We hope you will join us in remembering “Papa Rick” as we send love and support to Diane, their children, and the entire Classic family.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Corinne Gladys Nelson. Corinne was born on October 6, 1946 in Queens, NY. to Gustave Brauer and Katherine Kraemer Brauer.
Corinne was a 1966 graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and upon graduation pursued a career in fashion design. Corinne was an Actress and Costume Designer with the San Antonio Little Theatre group. In 1992 she won a Globe Award for ‘Best Performance by a Featured Actress’ in the musical, Chicago. She was a member of Faith Lutheran Church and a Soprano voice in Lutheran choirs for 35 years.
Corinne was the matriarch of her family and loved by all who knew her. She was preceded in death by her parents; her sisters, Winnie Casha and Carol Cardwell; brother, Robert Brauer; and stepson, Luke Nelson. Corinne is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Nelson; her sons, Tim Donoughue (Trina), Pete Donoughue, Jeff Donoughue (Kathy); daughter, Sharon Donoughue; stepchildren, Seth Nelson (Sarah); Anne Mitchelle (Mike); Zach Nelson; and Lydia Nelson; grandchildren, Alex Donoughue, Mitch Donoughue, Kevin Donoughue, Bailey Donoughue, Sarah Donoughue, Meghan Donoughue, Michael Donoughue, Carl Donoughue, Ashley Cornwell, Gage Beck, Seth Beck; stepgrandchildren, Lilly Nelson, Jack Mitchelle, Kate Mitchelle and Will Nelson.
Lila Jean Weeks Potts was a dynamically exuberant lover of life. She was passionate about her family, her friends, her church, learning, entertaining, theatre, travel, food, and too many more things to enumerate here. She was born an extremely curious child, and that curiosity fueled her passion for living a remarkable life.
A native of Oklahoma, Lila Jean grew up as both a “city girl” and a “farm kid”. Having sisters who were a bit older than she, afforded her the opportunity to enjoy life on a farm as well as in the city. As the youngest child of a single mother, Lila Jean learned independence and self reliance early in life. Most of her time, as a youth, was spent at school, in the library, or with her youth group at the First Christian Church in OKC.
After graduating from Classen High school in 1949, Lila Jean continued her education at the University of Oklahoma on an academic scholarship. While at school, she was very active in the theatre, journalism and radio departments, and was awarded the honor of being voted “Big Woman on Campus.” She graduated with a degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting and was the first female manager of a radio station in Oklahoma City.
During her Sophomore year in college, Lila Jean met Bill on a blind date. His love for her and absolute certainty that she was the girl for him was decided the moment he laid eyes upon her. Her love for him wasn’t as instant, but it was forever. They have shared 71 years together with 68 of those joyful years in marriage. Her unwavering devotion to her family through the normal hills and valleys of life are a testament to her deep and abiding forever love.
Unconventional as always, Lila Jean became a mother after eight years of marriage with the adoption of her son Steven, two years later Laura was chosen as the newest addition to the Potts family. Shortly thereafter, Kathleen joined the ranks, in the conventional way, and thus her family was complete.
During the many years spent as an Army Officer’s wife, Lila Jean served on, was an integral part of, and initiated many committees and charitable organizations. Her tireless work earned her a nomination for Officer’s Wife of the year. Part of her time as an officer’s wife took her on a three year tour of duty to Bogota Colombia. Always up to a new adventure, Lila tackled a new language when stationed in Bogota, mostly to get better prices on fresh produce. Her aptitude for learning served her so well that her instructor informed her he could teach her nothing more because she had begun to dream in Spanish.
Theatre remained Lila Jean’s passion all of her life. An avid and acclaimed actress, Lila Jean has performed along side many celebrities in her time. Some of her many accolades include Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. Her pride and joy, though is in inspiring two more generations of actresses in her daughter and granddaughter.
“If you’re going to do something, do it right” was always a guiding principle in Lila Jean’s life. Of all her accomplishments, none compare to the joy in seeing her children become responsible, upstanding, Christian adults who are now raising Lila Jean’s legacy, her grandchildren. The time she spent with her grandsons and granddaughter, were some of the most precious and valued memories that she loved.\
Lila Jean was unforgettable. She was a force of nature who walked into a room and commanded it. She was a skilled conversationalist who never met a stranger. She loved a good party, a good laugh, good food, and good friendship. Her ingenious idea to put together a hat with money tied onto it to raise funds for any raffle whenever needed, earned her the nickname “The Hat Lady”. Her love of food and friends led her to establishing a “Red Hat Ladies Lunch Society” which morphed into a “Ladies who Lunch” group. Each month they would meet to explore new gastronomic delights while relishing in their sisterhood of friendship.
Never miss a Sunday School class. If you do, and you are Lila Jean, they will vote you in as the leader…and they did. Not only was Lila Jean the leader of the Koinonia class for many years, she was instrumental in raising funds for the the refurbishment of the stained glass windows for Central Christian Church in downtown San Antonio. She was a favorite for scripture readings during services and was blessed and honored to serve for many years as a Deacon with the church.
Lila Jean was the daughter of RosEtta and Oscar Weeks, she was born in May of 1933 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She is preceded in death by her parents and her sisters, Anice Weeks Bellah, Tressie Weeks Blake, and Delora Weeks MCanlies. She is survived by her husband William “Bill” Potts, son Steven Potts (Kari), daughter Laura Koester (David), daughter Kathleen Griffith (Kirk), grandsons Braiden and Colten Koester, and granddaughter Lila Griffith
Lila Jean Potts, with her husband and daughter holding her hands, peacefully slipped her mortal coil on January 7, 2022. She was surrounded by the love of her family on earth who will miss her more than is imaginable. She was welcomed into eternity, by her God and Savior Jesus Christ whom she gave her life to at the age of thirteen, and her Mother whom she missed so very much.
In lieu of flowers, it was Lila Jean’s wish that any donations be made to one or more of the following: Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, The Nature Conservancy Texas, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, or breast cancer research.
Gregg Barrios was a San Antonio playwright, poet and journalist. He was a highly decorated writer with many published works and awards. Several of his award-winning plays were produced in San Antonio theaters including The Overtime Theater and The Classic Theatre. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center was a strong supporter of this legendary Latino playwright and recognized his works regularly. He grew up in Victoria, where he started writing book reviews for the local newspaper at the urging of two librarians he knew. He was drafted into the Air Force at age 19, and his tour of duty included a stint in Vietnam. He went to college at UT-Austin, where he founded Cinema 40, a film society that pushed for the creation of a film department at the school.
He served in Vietnam, taught school in tiny Texas towns, founded an influential film society at the University of Texas at Austin and spent time in the Factory, Andy Warhol’s famed studio in New York. He published poetry collections and wrote plays that were produced in San Antonio and across the country.
Devoted to her family, and deeply loyal to her friends, Diana was a gifted craftsperson and jeweler, and will also be acutely missed by the San Antonio theatre community, in which her ties and history of service ran long and deep. Diana was endlessly supportive of the community that she shared with her husband (they performed together at the Melodrama in HemisFair and were married in the Cameo Theater), and with her son, who performed locally with the Northwood Junior Players. As one of the driving forces behind the San Antonio Theatre Coalition, Diana was dedicated to keeping the community informed and connected. She created and managed SATCO’s digital communications, as well as working endless volunteer hours to ensure that Coalition events ran smoothly.
PC: San Antonio Express-News
Greg Hinojosa passed away at the age of 57.
Hinojosa served more than 30 years as a prominent member of the city’s theater community, as an actor, director, designer, mentor and advocate for the LGBTQ community. He was a graduate of Holmes High School in San Antonio and attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he majored in theater and speech. He worked at regional theaters across the U.S. including Santa Fe Stages, The Springer Opera House, the Magik Children’s Theatre of San Antonio and the Repertory Theatre of America. For more than 20 years, Hinojosa and Acosta led a group of volunteers in the staging of Fiesta Frenzy, an annual drag and variety show that would donate all box office proceeds to local charities.
Hinojosa played many memorable roles over the years — an entire community in “I Am My Own Wife,” the insecure drag artist Zaza in “La Cage aux Folles,” the title character in “The Elephant Man,” a thuggish millionaire in “Born Yesterday,” a mother with a dark secret in “Psycho Beach Party,” Caliban in “The Tempest” and the king of Siam in “The King and I.” Hinojosa received numerous Alamo Theatre Arts Awards for his work as an actor and director.
In 2012, Hinojosa became the artistic director of the Woodlawn Theater and also served as a board member of the San Antonio Theater Coalition. He left an indelible mark on the community. He recently started teaching special needs students at Howsman Elementary School and remained active in the theater community. Hinojosa is survived by his husband, Daniel Acosta, and by his mother, Josie Hinojosa, his sister Viola Hinojosa and nieces and nephews.
PC: Edward A. Ornelas /San Antonio Express-News
R.C. Thor has passed away at the age of 83. He was a San Antonio theatre legend and passionate advocate for youth in the performing arts. He was born Robert Charles Thorschmidt in 1937 to a musical family in New York. His grandmother and both of his parents played songs from many musicals. R.C. is perhaps best known for his role of Daddy Warbucks in multiple stagings of Annie. The Army brought him to San Antonio in 1964, and as a nurse, he worked with schizophrenic patients at a VA hospital. One of his passions was to encourage young people in theatre and the performing arts.
R.C. fought a long battle with Parkinson’s disease which forced him to stop performing, but he remained a strong supporter in the theater community, offering encouragement to young performers, attending show North East School of the Arts and various other theaters including the Woodlawn Theatre. A scholarship in his name, which he and others financed, is available to students at the Woodlawn Academy, the education program of the Woodlawn.
It is estimated that R.C. performed in over 100 shows over the years. Notable performances include: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Baby, Brigadoon, Oliver!, Rags, Woman of the Year and Noises Off. His final show, a staging of Annie Jr., was at the Josephine Theatre. Recognizing his contributions, Thor received the Jasmina Wellinghoff Award at the Alamo Theatre Arts Council’s 28th annual Globe Awards in 2018.
Thor is survived by his husband Gray Ozuna; his brother and sister-in-law Charles R. and Elaine Thorschmidt; nephews Jonathan Thorschmidt and Charles Thorschmidt, Jr. ; and his nephews’ mother, Maggie Thorschmidt. A memorial will take place Feb. 26, with visitation from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a service at Mission Park Funeral Chapel, 3401 Cherry Ridge. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Parkinson’s Foundation or to the R.C. Thor Scholarship. Donations to the scholarship can be made at woodlawntheatreacademy.org.
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Wayne Frazier is the father of Ken Frazier, the Sheldon Vexler Theatre. Mr. Frazier helped build sets and with many essential needs at the Vex.
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Steve was a playwright of Gone to Texas, Davy Crockett and a radio personality at San Antonio (KKYX, KTSA).
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Born Thanalakshmi Subramaniam, most people knew her as Shimi.
She was born in Singapore on June 11, 1971, the first child of Subramaniam Thiruvengadam and Susila VIsay Lingham. Her childhood on the island city-state shaped multiple facets of her personality: her love of the ocean, her passion for Southeast Asian cuisines, her strong academic background. Upon finishing her secondary education at Raffles Girls School and Victoria Junior College, in 1990 she moved to the U. S. to attend Dartmouth College.
Upon graduation from Dartmouth, Shimi came to San Antonio to be an intern at Jump/Start Performance Company. She ultimately became a company member and artistic director. By the time she left Jump/Start, she had an active independent performance career: belly dance, hoop, burlesque and pole followed one after the other, with occasional provocative crossovers between them.
Shimi met Oscar Alvarado in 1995. When they married two years later, they lived with Darryl Ohlenbusch in a converted former bar: the El Pacifico Lounge. “The Lounge” quickly became a venue for events such as “It Came from the Lounge”, featuring artistic and performance works by the trio, and, most famously, “The Miss Southtown Pageant”, an “all-gender” beauty pageant where contestants vied for the Miss Southtown title and the privilege of riding on the eponymous float during the King William Parade. Shimi’s professional theater and performance experience was essential in the staging and production of these events.
Shimi was also an arts educator, working with children and young adults in numerous community settings. As a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist, Shimi trained annually on the current practices and science behind education. Shimi provided Residencies in Arts Integration across Bexar County, through The Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, working one on one with teachers in their classrooms.
Recently, she had decided to resume her own academic career by enrolling in the Literature, Creative Writing, and Social Justice Master’s Degree program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Despite the rigorous demands of her classes, Shimi maintained an active performance schedule, only slightly diminished by the Pandemic when she moved many of her appearances online.
Shimi’s life was tragically ended on December 2, 2020, when she was hit by a car on her way to the studio where she taught pole dance. She is survived by her husband Oscar, her father Subramaniam, her brother Neeven, sister-in-law Lynette and three nieces. She leaves behind a powerful legacy of advocacy, passion and love of life. A celebratory memorial will was held in Shimi’s honor in the 100 block of Devine Street (in the Lavaca neighborhood) from 4 to 7 PM, Sunday, December 13 with social distancing protocols.
Joyce Lambrecht took her last curtain call on September 16, 2020 in front of her most adoring fans. Joyce was a part of the San Antonio local theater scene for more than 40 years. She acted or directed at San Antonio Little Theater, Melodrama Theater, First Repertory Company and Harlequin Theater, just to name a few. Here she would act or direct alongside many local thespians, who, over the years, would become lifelong friends. Joyce is preceded in death by her mother Maudine Pat Thatcher and her sister Judith Anne Adams. The Gabor Sisters are back together. Joyce is survived by William Lambrecht, her husband of 56 years, her children, Scott Presnell, Robyn Glasscock, Amanda Harper, and Nick Lambrecht. She also has six grandchildren, Lauren Glasscock, Katherine Rhadban, Will Glasscock, Hailey Harper, John Henry Glasscock, and Parker Lambrecht. Joyce and Bill lived in San Miguel de Allende for nine years and fell in love with some of the Mexican culture, especially dia de los muertos.Joyce Thatcher Lambrecht
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the family will be holding a virtual Day of the Dead service on November 1, 2020 at 6pm. The service is available to friends and family over Zoom. Lisa Lambrecht is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic: Joyce Lambrecht Memorial Time: Nov 1, 2020 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6719950265
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For First Rep, Joyce was in: Threepenny Opera, Promenade, Trial of the Catonsville Nine and Hogan’s Goat.
Rebecca Gish Seres Trinidad passed away on 3/15/2020 after a long battle with cancer. Becci performed in musicals across the city for the last 30 years and also performed with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Della Reese and Johnny Gimble. She, with Darrin Newhardt, spearheaded Broadway Nights for many years at the Woodlawn Theater.
Rebecca Ellen (Gish) Trinidad Obituary
It is with great sadness that the family of Rebecca Ellen (Gish) Trinidad announces she died on March 15, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas at the age of 51 after a hard-fought battle with breast cancer.
Becci was born on October 8, 1968 in Frederick, Oklahoma. She graduated from Cameron University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Music & Theater degree in Vocal Performance. She was proud to be the first vocalist chosen to sing with their, instrument only, jazz band where she excelled and honed her vocal style. She married John Trinidad and together they performed across the country at numerous theme parks such as Six Flags Fiesta Texas, AstroWorld, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Sea World of Texas and on cruise ships in the ‘90s. After years on the road they moved back to San Antonio and had Megan, their only child.
Being a workaholic by nature she had many different jobs throughout her lifetime, including: supervising at Starbucks, event coordinating at the Paseo del Rio Association, she was also an avid photographer, photographing newborns at the Methodist Hospital, she was even a Radio DJ on 88.3 KPAC but she always returned to her love of singing. She performed with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Della Reese, Diane Schuur, and Johnny Gimble.
Becci could sing anything from opera to hard rock and she taught and couched voice to countless students over the years. But she loved performing big band standards and in musical theater where she showcased her wonderful acting in a wide range of productions that garnered her several awards along the way. Her favorite roles included: Ado Annie in Oklahoma, Lizzie in Baby, Nellie in South Pacific, Emma Goldman in Ragtime, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Carrie’s Mother Margaret in Carrie the Musical, and The Acid Queen in Tommy. She also loved directing and her directorial debut helped produce the spectacular San Antonio premier of Memphis the Musical. But her proudest entertainment achievement was creating and hosting the Broadway Nights series that ran for 5 years in the lobby of the Woodlawn Theater with pianist and friend Darrin Newhardt. It still stands as San Antonio’s longest running cabaret act.
Her last performance was as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma, who says these lines at the end of the show: “Oh, lots of things happen to folks. Sickness, or being poor and hungry, even being old and afraid to die. That’s the way it is cradle to grave. And you can stand it. There’s one way. You gotta be hearty, you got to be. You can’t deserve the sweet and tender in life unless you’re tough.” Our Becci, who was from Oklahoma, lived those lines for most of her adult life. She fought her cancer back several times and spoke these lines less than a year before succumbing to her disease. But no one could tell she was in pain while on stage. That’s the way she tried to live her life, always singing, smiling and giving the best performances till the very end.
Becci is survived by her parents, David Wood III and Pamela Sue (Starr) Gish, of Alaska; husband, John; daughter, Megan; brother, David Wood Gish IV, of Alaska; parents-in-law, Robert and Anna Marie Trinidad; brother-in-law, Robert Trinidad, sister-in-law, Cynthia Trinidad and niece Alana. She is preceded in death by her grandparents David Wood II and Helen Frances (Hammonds) Gish, of Frederick, Oklahoma.
Unfortunately due to coronavirus restrictions we can’t have a large gathering of family and friends until the danger has passed. So at first her immediate family will honor her final wishes, to be interred with her grandparents in her hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma. Then with the help of the theater community we’ll give her a grand memorial celebration. Please stay tuned for updated information. Until then, please keep sharing your photos, videos and memories of her on Facebook or on her obituary page.
Memorial donations may be made to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation at: www.bcrf.org
Her service is being arranged by:
Sunset Northwest Funeral Home – San Antonio, TX. www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/san-antonio-tx/rebecca-trinidad-9086266
Orr Gray Gish Funeral Home – Frederick, OK. www.orrgraygishfuneralhome.com/obituary/rebecca-trinidad
Our performing community has lost a another great lady. Jo Grabow left us suddenly on January 23, 2020. Our hearts go out to family and friends.
She is greatly missed.
Alamo City Impresario Mark Richter Dies At 51
By Francisco Salazar
Opera and concert producer Mark Richter has died, according to Alamo City Opera music director Kristin Roach.
Music director Roach announced the death of the 51-year-old who was currently serving as the artistic director of the Alamo City Opera. Richter died on April 28, 2019, at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, where he was hospitalized for about 10 days.
Richter grew up on the Southeast Side where he studied voice and in 1992 he founded San Antonio’s Three Tenors operatic singing group. The group had been inspired by Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras, and Placido Domingo.
Later in 1995, he founded the Pocket Opera on a shoestring budget and eventually was renamed to Lyric Opera of San Antonio and, later, San Antonio Opera. The company emerged and he was able to attract Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, Roberta Peters, and Patti LuPone.
He would also form the Opera Piccola and eventually the Alamo City Opera in 2012, where he was able to showcase more than 80 productions on a smaller scale.
Richter not only produced grand opera, but also opened the path for chamber opera. In January, the Alamo City Opera’s January production of the popular contemporary opera “As One” was notable in part for being the first production with a transgender performer, Liz Bouk, in the lead role.
Kathy Feinstein was a fantastic friend, a devoted daughter, a fun-loving sister, a thoughtful mother, a self-less grandmother, and a loving, warm-hearted wife.
Kathy was the eldest of three children. After high school, she decided to attend college in Boston where she met Steve, her future husband of almost 40 years. During that time, Kathy and Steve went on many adventures exploring the world, especially from the cabin of a charging locomotive (She loved trains)!
Together, they also built a family with two passionate, beautiful, and strong women, Bethany and Hillary. Her two daughters were her world, and she was excited to see both of them become mothers themselves.
Kathy loved being a grandmother to grand-daughter Elia. Together they roamed several HEBs for tortillas and buddy bucks. Elia loved spending time with her Grams at the DoSeum and San Antonio Zoo, and going out to lunch with Grams and Gramps.
Steve and Kathy were partners in everything, even in music. They met in college in choir and sang together all her life. Kathy was a staple of her church choir for over 30 years. Together they sang with the Merrie Court Singers, The Tim and Bob Show and later Steve and Kathy formed the band Fein Tuned. She played bass guitar, but her best instrument was her voice. When you listened to her sing, you could feel the true emotion of any song.
Her latest adventure was working part-time at the San Antonio Zoo. She loved giving tours especially to elementary aged children and telling them all about the animals.
Aside from music, Kathy’s other passion was definitely theatre. She was at her happiest when she was acting or singing on a stage in front of an audience. It was one of her many gifts to the world. She loved meeting every actor in every show she attended and giving them a hug.
Kathy was never shy to meet new people in any environment. Whether at the theatre or at a Fein Tuned gig, she made sure that everyone she was around felt comfortable, loved, and happy.
Memorial Service: Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 2:00 pm, First Unitarian Universalist Church, 7150 West IH 10, San Antonio, Texas
In lieu of flowers, the Feinstein Family request that donations be made in Kathy’s name to the Woodlawn Theatre, 1920 Fredericksburg Rd. San Antonio, TX 78201.
Lewis H. Richmond, M.D. (April 6, 1934 – August 19, 2018)
Beloved husband, father, grandfather, and respected colleague, Lewis H. Richmond, M.D. passed away on Sunday, August 19, 2018. As a child he attended #49 middle school in Baltimore, MD. He completed his undergraduate degree and medical school at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was an intern at Brooke Army Medical Center, and completed his residency at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. For 13 years, he proudly served in the US Air Force as a Flight Surgeon and Physician, and achieved the rank of Major.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Richmond was Board Certified in Psychiatry/Neurology, was a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; was in Private Practice of Psychiatry specializing in adolescents; Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association Fellow, American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry Life Fellow and American Group Psychotherapy Association. Past positions held include: President, Southwestern Group Psychotherapy Society; President and Founder, San Antonio Society for Adolescent Psychiatry; President and Director Training, San Antonio Group Psychotherapy Society; Coordinator of Group Services at the Community Guidance Center of Bexar County. Dr. Richmond was a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Lew had a passion for local theater and happily participated as an actor and a judge. In later years, he fulfilled his dream of performing stand-up comedy in San Antonio and New York City.
He is preceded in death by his parents, William and Elsie; and his brother, Allen. Lew is survived by his wife, Barbara Richmond; sons: David Richmond and Jon Richmond (Gay Best); daughter, Tory Richmond (Clay Richmond); beloved grandchildren: Kristan Forbis (Jacob) Katie Richmond, Scotty Richmond, Charlie Richmond and Gabi Richmond; and his nephew, Sandy Richmond, along with many dear friends. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Fernando Lopez, M.D., and the many health care professionals who have lovingly assisted him on his last journey.
Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg and Rabbi Mara Nathan officiated services.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Lew’s memory to the Children’s Bereavement Center of San Antonio, 205 W. Olmos Dr., #101, San Antonio, TX 78212 or the Jewish Family Service of San Antonio, Mental Health Care Fund, 12500 NW Military Hwy, #250, San Antonio, TX 78231.
SATCO has the sad duty of informing you of another passing in the theatre community. Ruth Lown was instrumental in establishing our organization and will be sorely missed.
Ruth Diane Lown of San Antonio, Texas, passed away on August 14. Ruth was pre-deceased by her brother David Lown, and by her parents Russell Lown and Lois Horrell Lown. Ruth is survived by her close cousins Barbara Salter Davis (Howard), Julie Salter Gronich (Joseph), and Lawrence Salter (Lois) along with numerous other cousins and dear friends.
Ruth went to the International School in Bangkok Thailand, earned her B.A. from Vanderbilt University, and received her J.D. from the University of Texas. She was a prosecutor with the office of Dallas DA, Henry Wade, and then practiced law in San Antonio for more than 30 years, most of which was with Walter C. Wolff, Jr.
Ruth was a passionate supporter of live theater and was honored by the San Antonio Theater Coalition. She was a tireless worker for Democratic candidates, and was a founding member of Northwest Democrats of Bexar County.
Ruth was a long-time member of SA 100 and a member of the River City Business and Professional Women’s Club. Ruth will be remembered for her generous spirit, tenacity, and her strong and loving commitment to family and friends.
Funeral services were graveside at Agudas Achim Memorial Gardens, 1727 Austin Hwy. 78218. Sunday, August 19, 1:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to honor Ruth’s memory to www.Agudas-Achim.org or a charity of your choice.
Doris “Judy” Hagen (October 24, 1927 – February 27, 2018)
Doris “Judy” Hagen passed away on February 27, 2018 in San Antonio. She was born on October 24, 1927 to Mary Thomason and LaMar Foster on a farm near West Branch, Iowa. Judy attended the University of Iowa and was a proud Hawkeye. She was a dedicated Army wife and mother of five that included two sets of twins born 13 months apart. She taught PE at Fort Sam Houston Elementary for 25 years and was well loved by her students and fellow teachers.
Judy was very active in the San Antonio Community, appearing in numerous productions throughout the city, her favorite role was “Bloody Mary” in South Pacific. She was a member of the Conservation Society where she volunteered in Clown Alley at NIOSA for 30 years. Judy was a member of St. Andrews UMC for 50 years and loved singing in the choir.
She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers, LaMar Jr. and Derrold Foster. Judy is survived by her children S. Foster Hagen and his wife, Mary, Michael Hagen and his wife, Theresa, Mark Hagen and his wife, Karen, Susan Mace and her husband, John, and Elizabeth Larsen and her husband, Jay; grandchildren, Alexa Hagen, Phillip Hagen and his wife, Kaylee, Jake Larsen, and Grace Larsen; great grandchildren, Landon Ruggeberg, Heidi Hagen; her two sisters, Mary Jeanette Turnbull and Audrey Rex; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Rev. Michael Crocker officiated. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St Andrews United Methodist Church or San Antonio Conservation Society.
Dick Thornton was an avid audience member at most all theatres with his dear wife, Sally. Both were former ATAC judges. Carolyn Gaedke worked as executive assistant at SALT in the 1980s and appeared in musicals. All of her children appeared in productions around town through the 1980s and in college.
Ryan Bonn (January 26, 1966 – February 19, 2018)
A dear friend of the San Antonio Theater Community passed away on Feb. 19. Ryan Bonn was a frequent performer and star on San Antonio stages and appeared on the ‘Star Search’ TV reality show.
Ryan Keith Bonn, age 52, of Kerrville, passed away on February 19, 2018 at his residence. He was born in San Antonio on January 26, 1966, and adopted by James and Etta P. (Polly) Bonn of San Antonio when he was 10 days old.
Ryan attended University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and, in 1990, American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York. He worked as a singer, actor, pianist most of his life and studied voice with Paul Gavert and acting with Betty Buckley among others. Ryan was a genius musician who taught himself to play piano and sight read, and to accompany himself and other singers. In 1994 Ryan won “Star Search” two weeks in a row. He was in musicals Off Broadway, Summer Stock and Regional Theatre, including Tony in WEST SIDE STORY, Jesus in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, Pippin in PIPPIN, the Tin Man in THE WIZARD OF OZ and Freddie in MY FAIR LADY. nIn Kerrville, Ryan portrayed Frankenfurter, in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Schreiner University, and was Music Director for 9 TO 5 at the Point. Since 2013 Ryan was Music Director for PTBT Productions and played piano and sang in three concerts of “A Diva & A Dude”.
Ryan is survived by his parents of Helotes, his ‘newly adopted mother’ Joan C. Bryson and his dog Roxie of Kerrville, and myriad friends and fans.
An open house memorial will be held and hosted by Joan Bryson at 131 Four Bears Trail, Kerrville, Texas on March 10, 2018 at 2-8 pm. You are invited to come for as long as able. Memorial contributions may be given to ASPCA.
A quote from Jasmina Wellinghoff’s review of Ryan’s performance at Alamo City Theater at the Josephine in San Antonio perhaps mirrors Ryan’s complex and beautiful internal world in that through his songwriting and soul bearing performances he was never afraid to explore “themes of regret, loneliness and fragility of love and life, as he creates intensely resonant ballads that appeal to both the heart and mind.”
It has recently come to our attention that we have lost another icon of the San Antonio theatre community. J. Jay passed away on December 1st, apparently of complications after a surgery.
I have no other information at this time. If you have anything you would like to contribute to this Memorial page, please let us know (contact us button below).
Our deepest condolences.
Mark Anthony Hall (May 2, 1962 – September 13, 2017)
Mark was a singer and actor originally from San Antonio, Texas and has enjoyed a 20+ year career as an actor and singer, sharing his gifts around the world!
His professional credits include operatic debuts that have taken him to some of the world’s most renowned opera houses from Augusta to Zürich. Some of his memorable roles include Coalhouse Walker, Jr in “Ragtime”, Fred in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, The Chimney Man in “Jelly’s Last Jam”, and Mister in Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple.” His most recent performance was in The Renaissance Guild’s production of “Watch Your Step: The Men of Eastwood”.
Some of his television credits includes: The West Wing, General Hospital, All About The Andersons, Drake & Josh. An accomplished professional, he was a member to numerous performance unions: AEA, AGMA, SAG, and AFTRA.
He departed this world far too soon and his love and talents will be missed.
Services were held: Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Dominion COGIC, 3023 Martin Luther King, San Antonio, Texas USA 78220
Burial: Meadowlawn Funeral Home & Crematory, 5611 E. Houston St., San Antonio, TX US 78220
Mark was my student at Sam Houston HS. The proud Class of 1980.The thing that I have never forgotten about him was that he was always so genuine and engaged. He was fine man. ~Nicki Roberson, Producer, Full Circle Theatre & Productions
He was a wonderful artist and performer. ~Raymond Baird
Robert “Lee” Brandt passed away this year at the age of 87. He lived in San Antonio for the majority of his life and was active as both an actor and director in local theater in his early years. He was one of the founding members of Billboard Theater in the late 1960’s.
Frank H. Latson (June 28, 1946 – March 24, 2017)
Our Frank lost a courageous four and a half year battle with cancer.
Frank died on March 24, 2017. Frank was born June 28, 1946 in Amarillo, TX to Major Harvey H. Latson and Mary Hopkins Latson. An identical twin, Frank and brother Harvey were born healthy despite complications in childbirth and a sister Caye Latson was born April 07, 1951.
As a military family the Latsons were stationed in the U.S. and the Philippines. Frank graduated from West Texas A&M with a degree in Theater Education. While at West Texas Frank performed in the theater dept. and in the outdoor musical drama “Texas” in Palo Duro Canyon. After graduation Frank taught speech and drama at Dumas High School, Dumas, Texas.
Subsequently Frank worked for Eastern Airlines as a flight attendant, instructor, and supervisor for 17 years. His work with Eastern propelled him to New York City where he continued pursuit of a theatrical career. In 1989 Frank returned to school and earned an MFA in Performing Arts Management. During that time he began working for the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers in NYC of which he became a member. Frank’s freelance work as a theater director includes 17 years with Oldcastle Theater, Bennington, VT., and various theaters across the U.S Frank directed The Blue Hill Troupe, NYC and was Artistic Director for Sierra Repertory Theater from 1998-2001.
From 2003-2012 Frank was Artistic Director for San Pedro Playhouse in San Antonio, TX. From 2013 forward Frank co-wrote and directed shows presented at the Winspear Opera House by Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. Frank directed and co-directed shows with Miki Bone at Contemporary Theater of Dallas (CTD). CTD’s production of “Dancing AT Lughnasa was a highlight of his career.
Frank is survived by Harve Latson and Pat Cornett, Caye Latson Siems and husband Billy Siems, six nieces and nephews, five grand nieces and nephews, and his beloved partner of 26 years, Al Marinez.
Our Frank was a joyous and radiant person who loved every moment of his life and gave freely to all the souls who touched him. All Our Love. Frank donated his body to UTSW Willed Body Program. A Celebration of Life concert is being planned for family and friends. In lieu of flowers please donate to Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico.
Curtain closes on beloved SA theater director
John Igo (May 29, 1927 – August 9, 2016)
A poet, a teacher, a theatre critic and theatre historian, John left us this year, at the age of 89. His inspiring lectures in English Literature are fondly remembered by his students at San Antonio College where he taught for 47 years. He mentored San Antonio writers, taught poetry to deaf adults, and was the manager of the Theatre Archives at the San Antonio Library. He was also a dear friend to the ATAC board of directors who for years turned to him for information and memories of our city’s theatre legacy.
San Antonio’s distinguished poet John Igo died Tuesday at age 89
Raised in a Helotes house without water and electricity, John Igo became a distinguished poet, author, theater critic and teacher. He died Tuesday at age 89.
Igo reigned for decades as San Antonio’s genial literary uncle, generously mentoring, nurturing and critiquing local writers.
Igo also produced plays, taught poetry to deaf adults, managed the Theater Archive at the San Antonio Library and took great pride in having a branch library on Kyle Seale Parkway named in his honor.
But his true life’s passion was perhaps best known to the college students to whom he revealed the wonders of English literature in sometimes unscripted lectures that led them to places unimaginable.
“He taught at San Antonio College for 47 years and he saw himself foremost as an English teacher. All the books and awards were secondary,” said his niece Christine Kiesel.
A descendant of 19th century settlers, Igo was a lifelong student of the history and culture of San Antonio. His death Tuesday of heart failure at age 89 triggered a flood of memories of those who had known him.
His cousin Bill Wollers, 83, recalled growing up next door to Igo in the farm country in Helotes. For a while Igo’s family lived in a house without electricity or running water.
“They used an outhouse and kerosene,” Wollers said.
Igo was San Antonio’s genial literary uncle
A distinguished poet, theater critic, author, artist and photographer, John Igo reigned for decades as San Antonio’s genial literary uncle, generously mentoring, nurturing and critiquing local writers.
Igo also produced plays, taught poetry to deaf adults, managed the Theater Archive at the San Antonio Library and took great pride in having a branch library on Kyle Seale Parkway named in his honor.
But his true life’s passion was perhaps best known to the college students to whom he revealed the wonders of English literature in sometimes unscripted lectures that led them to places unimaginable.
“He taught at San Antonio College for 47 years and he saw himself foremost as an English teacher. All the books and awards were secondary,” said his niece Christine Kiesel.
For one of his students, memories from his classroom remain fresh five decades later.
“John Igo was an absolute treasure and I loved him dearly,” said Sarah Reveley, 71, who in 1964 took an advanced literature course at SAC.
“He was a tiny guy, prematurely gray, and sometimes he’d even sit on the desk,” she recalled. “We never knew what he’d talk about. I can’t tell you what we read, but I can tell you that when we listened to Mr. Igo, we learned a great deal.”
A descendant of 19th century settlers, Igo was a lifelong student of the history and culture of San Antonio. His death Tuesday of heart failure at age 89 triggered a flood of memories of those who had known him.
His cousin Bill Wollers, 83, recalled growing up next door to Igo in the farm country in Helotes. For a while Igo’s family lived in a house without electricity or running water.
“They used an outhouse and kerosene,” Wollers said.
Igo’s love of reading and history were already very apparent, said Wollers, whose favorite story came some years later, when Igo was teaching at SAC and Wollers was attending the University of Texas at Austin.
“My first year up there, John asked me several times to get some books for him out of the main library. When I was getting them, the librarian said, ‘Do you realize these books have not been checked out since 1920-something?’
“But John knew what they were and about a week later, he’d give them back to me, and I’d take them back to the library. They were historical books of some kind. Something about Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain,” he said.
For Rosemary Catacalos, a former poet laureate of Texas, Igo was an early inspiration.
“He always called me his student, though I never really was, formally. But when I was in high school, he was the only poet around. So I gathered up my courage and approached him, clutching my little high school poems in my sweaty hands,” she recalled.
“And he gave me the best writing advice ever: “Don’t cry. Make me cry!’ It’s also the best writing advice I’ve ever given my own students. Nuestro gran maestro will be profoundly missed,” she added.
Igo was also well-regarded in the theater community for his reviews, which pulled no punches. Igo handed out golden unicorn pins to actors who given good performances and the hard truth to those who hadn’t.
“Some of them were just hilarious,” Charles Jeffries, a college theater teacher, said of Igo’s reviews. “You could just read what was wrong, but you felt OK about it.”
Jeffries remembers Igo once coming backstage right after a performance to offer his critique of a comedy.
“This would have been really good if it were funny,” was Igo’s assessment.
“Anybody else, you would have killed him with a stick, but I knew where he was coming from,” said Jeffries.
Bryce Milligan, owner of Wings Press, published one of Igo’s last books, “A Stone for Plot Four, or Mendez, a Quest,” about the mercurial San Antonio author Mendez Marks.
“As John would have said, he was in literature for the love of language. He loved everything about language — etymology, obscure grammatical rules, sophisticated puns, archaic words. I never played Scrabble with John, but a conversation with him was often a highly enjoyable linguistic and literary sparring match,” Milligan said
“And the only thing he loved more than language was, perhaps, the intellectual and artistic history of San Antonio,” he added.
This passion was expressed in Igo’s unofficial role as grammar policeman for the San Antonio Express-News, which he reviewed each day with an eye for fact errors and crimes against the language.
“For six years, he’d call me every day about some problem in the paper, a misspelled word, a grammatical problem, or someone referring to the West Side when they really meant the South Side,” recalled Bob Richter, the paper’s public editor from 2006 to 2012.
“He was usually spot on, and he was polite. He was valuable because he knew so much about the city and he was devoted to making the paper better,” he said.
Stricken with arthritis that made writing almost impossible, Igo enjoyed a creative and social revival of sorts in the last decade of his life, thanks to a friend and some modern technologies.
“When I met him, he was a guy sitting in the past someplace. He felt he had really gone to pasture, but once I established his website, he started reconnecting with his former students,” said Gary Demers, also a writer.
The discovery of a special pen that Igo could use soon had him producing five pages a day, leading to another series of books, Demers said.
“I’d drop off the fan mail, we’d discuss literary projects and collaborate. I’d also drive him to events that other people would host for him. He felt like a celebrity all over again,” he added.
Igo is survived by a sister, Mary Helen Clark, three nieces and nephews, and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews. The family said a celebration of life event will be held at the Helotes Historical Society, but no date has been set.
Patricia Webb Wells (1948 – 2016)
After a lifetime of adventures, Pat Wells passed away on April 13, 2016.
So many of us will miss her energy, her joie de vivre, her “GO FOR THE GUSTO” spirit, her eagerness to reach out to others in need. Her most recent efforts to help others included being CASA advocate for abused children, and a disaster relief team leader for Red Cross, where her first assignment was helping flood victims in Wimberley.
Early in her artistic career, Pat was a dancer, dance instructor, mistress of ceremonies, and judge for professional ballroom dance competitions across the United States and Europe. She and her dance partner achieved International Champions rank in Latin Dance.
Most in San Antonio know Pat as part of the Theatre Community. She started out producing children’s shows, and co-owned the children’s theatre company, ACTING UP. She directed summer musical theatre camp for NEISD and often choreographed shows at Bradley Middle School and Spring Branch MS.
One of her most memorable productions was WIZARD OF OZ for Region 20 “VIP CAMP” for blind and visually impaired children. When a blind girl with cerebral palsy sang “Over the Rainbow,” there was not a dry eye in the house.
Pat produced and directed hundreds of shows in the San Antonio area. Most recently she won an ATAC GLOBE AWARD for her direction of the play, “‘NIGHT MOTHER” at the Woodlawn Theatre.
Perhaps her most notorious activity was as long-time Stage Manager and “Dominatrix” for CORNYATION, one of FIESTA’s most rowdy and popular events.
Three Cheers and a loving toast to Pat Wells from the dance community, the theatre community, the Cornyation Queens, all the children whose lives she changed through the magic of theatre, and all the animals she rescued and loved all of her life. It was her wish that in lieu of flowers, friends contribute to the animal charity of your choice in her name.
She is survived by her brothers Buddy and Clay, her daughter Carol Lee, her granddaughters Caren, Angela, Ashley, and Jennifer, plus seven great-grandchildren.
Funeral Service, mass, and reception – Friday, April 29, 6:30pm at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 8134 Blanco Road, San Antonio, TX 78216.
Reception at church follows where stories can be shared. (At this time, no separate visitation or later “celebration” is planned.)
A native of Texas City, she loved music, dance and theater from an early age. She graced the stages of Dallas and San Antonio theatres where she starred in such productions as Hello Dolly, Anything Goes and as Momma Rose in Gypsy at The Playhouse. Her life has been described as an event of epic proportion filled with joy, laughter and glitter.
Bruce Edgar Shirky (July 18, 1951 – March 30, 2015)
Bruce Edgar Shirky , formerly Artistic Director of The Harlequin Dinner Theater, passed away Monday March 30, 2015. Bruce was employed by The US Army for 34 years, having started working at Ft. Leonard Wood previous to moving to San Antonio, and a job at Ft Sam Houston. He was first employed as Technical Director, and eventually became Artistic Director, and Managing Director at The Harlequin. Bruce’s passion was directing, and he was known for his keen insight into the characters in the plays he was helming. Bruce was an actor’s director, and made many lifelong friends during the many memorable shows he directed. He was also known for casting new, unknown talent, and thereby introducing many new faces to San Antonio theater. Bruce died of complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 63.
Express News Obituary
Bruce Edgar Shirky had the right disposition for the unpredictable world of live theater.
Producing eight shows a year at the Harlequin Dinner Theatre stage for 32 years required a steady hand and a talent for quick fixes.
When at the last minute an actor became too ill to play the part of Erronius during a production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Shirky stepped into the role without hesitation.
“He was pretty much unflappable,” said friend Florence Bunten who worked with Shirky at the Harlequin for more than three decades. “He would rise to the occasion and get things done.”
Shirky died of complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease March 30, at 63.
Working in theater for the first time while attending community college in his hometown of Sedalia, Missouri, Shirky soon made it his major.
“He got snagged … when they needed help back stage,” his wife Sherrie Shirky said. “Before he knew it, he realized that’s where he was happiest.”
Although his passion was directing, “he got a lot of experience doing technical theater because he knew that way he would always have something to fall back on,” his wife said.
It was during his senior year at Central Missouri State University that he lucked into a rare opportunity — a steady, paying job in the theater.
Taking a break from a campus production, Shirky went to the student union to get a soda when an Army recruiter asked if he was a senior. Ready to wave the soldier off, Shirky told him he was a theater major and that he doubted they had a position for him.
To Shirky’s surprise, the soldier replied that there was a civil service opening at Fort Leonard Wood with the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
Finishing up his degree early with the help of his professors, Shirky started his new position, followed by a move to San Antonio in 1976 after the theater at Leonard Wood started phasing out.
As budget cuts reduced theater staff through the years, Shirky took on more of the work.
“He was in charge of the whole artistic operation — artistic director and technical director,” Bunten said. “We also had to go and do a lot of purchasing; fill out forms to get funding … things like that.”
Most of all, Shirky was able to nurture his love of directing, for which he had a special touch.
Figuring out an actor’s insecurities, he “would try to get you past that, without you realizing what was happening,” said Sherrie Shirky, who is a local actress. He would “get things out of you didn’t know you had in you.”
Memorizing the lines for every role, Shirky would sit in the back of the theater during rehearsals, “mouthing their words, and have the same expression on his face that they did,” his wife said. “He was in the moment, really in his element.”
Never asking for more than he himself was willing to give, “he demanded excellence of himself and tried to get everyone else on the same track,” Sherrie Shirky said. “He wanted every show to be the best it could be.”
In addition to the theater, Shirky and his wife bred and showed AKC smooth-coated Chihuahuas, eventually traveling to events all over the country.
“Bruce enjoyed the showing and judging, I enjoyed the breeding,” Sherrie Shirky said. “We loved doing it; it was a fun thing to do when we weren’t doing theater.”
Gaining a reputation for fairness, Shirky was a popular judge.
“He wasn’t partial,” Sherrie Shirky said. “A lot of people respected his opinion on what a good Chihuahua was.”
After retiring in 2002, Shirky continued to volunteer at the Harlequin.
“He wanted to take care of everybody,” his wife said. “He was a take-charge kind of guy.”
Bruce Edgar Shirky
Born: July 18, 1951, Columbia, Missouri
Died: March 30, 2015, San Antonio
Preceded by: Parents Max Shirky and Lois Edgar Shirky Horn; niece Melinda Shirky;
Survived by: Wife Sherrie Shirky; brothers Brett “Pete” Shirky and Gary Shirky; and sister Diane Bockelman; nieces and grand-nieces; nephews and grand-nephews.
Services: Celebration of life
Dyanne Kaz (1940 – 2015)
SATCO is saddened to report the passing of well-known and much loved actress, Catherine Dyanne Kaz. Born in San Antonio, 1940, Dyanne passed away peacefully at home on January 1, 2015 surrounded by her family.
Dyanne began her theatre career in San Antonio in 1980 and stopped only when she retired and moved to Vegas to be near Jeynifer in 1997. Her first show was at the Cameo with Jerry Pilato in 1980, followed by Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the Ballroom at the Bonham Exchange. (Jeyn remembers spending her summer there as a 12 year old which she says “explains a lot about me”.)
Dyanne had appeared on just about every stage in San Antonio that existed at the time. At the second annual ATAC awards for the 1991-1992 season, she was nominated as Lead Actress in a Comedy for her role in The Foreigner. It was the best time of her life. She was never happier than when she was on stage and she never stopped sharing her wonderful memories of those times, one of which was that she and Bruce Limpus played husband and wife so many times that some thought they were really married.
Some memories from Dyanne’s friends:
”Your mother was an amazing person. I truly enjoyed her.”
”I am remembering You Can’t Take it With You, and The Sound of Music. I loved Dyanne, she was one of my favorites.”
”She was an amazing woman.”
”I smile when I remember her.”
”She was a neat lady and I am honored to have known her.”
”I have fond memories of all the plays she, you and I did in San Antonio with Actors Theatre – and there were many!”
“She was one of the dearest people I had the pleasure to know.”
“Your mom was always so kind.”
“I remember your mother well… She was fantastic.”
“We all had such a good time in our plays. I sure do miss them. Your mom was the best sport of all.”
Dyanne is survived by her daughter Jeynifer, son-in-law Jeff, and four grandchildren. Dyanne’s son, Robert, passed away suddenly on January 9, 2015.
Our deepest condolences to Jeynifer and her family.
Mary Denman (June 22, 1922 – May 8, 2013)
Mary Denman rightly claims, with justifiable pride, that she is one of the “Oldest Broads In Broadcasting.” Her first professional Telecast occurred more than 50 years ago when she was in her late 20’s. “Toyland Time” featured her as “The Song Lady” on KVDO, the first TV station in Corpus Christi, Texas. When that program ended after a year and half, free-lance production of radio and TV commercials kept her on the air.
Her husband’s job move to San Antonio provided Mary with the opportunity to become the host-producer of “Our Town,” a weekday interview program on KENS-TV. After eight years, she became the station’s first woman co-anchor of a newscast. After a year of twice as much work and responsibility but nowhere near twice the salary, she was wooed away to take a public relations position with a beauty firm.
After a year and a half, weary of the constant travel that kept her away too much from husband and home, she decided to return to free-lance talent work in San Antonio. Shortly thereafter, WOAI radio started the first all-talk format and hired Mary to be the producer and co-host of “morning magazine”, airing from 9 to noon Monday through Friday. Eleven and a half years later, she joined KRRT, as host producer of “The Mary Denman Show.”
New owners and a format change ended that venture in less than a year, so she and her husband formed their own ad agency, “Mary Denman, Inc.” They ran it together until his death in 1991.
The next year, WOAI asked her to develop a program for seniors and “Prime Plus” was the result. For the next 13 years, the program was aired every Sunday morning from 10 to 11 first on WOAI-AM, then KENS-AM and finally on KLUP-AM until a major format change eliminated most of the local on-air hosts in October 2004. She continues to do free-lance voice work.
Her passion for theater began even before her broadcasting career. On-stage she has played everything from chorus parts to lead roles. She and her husband were cofounders and board members of a short lived summer stock company, her board service at Corpus Christi Little Theatre and then San Pedro Playhouse spans many years and continues today. At the latter, she served ten years, three as chair, on the capital campaign committee which renovated and restored the 70-plus year old Playhouse. In her work on the board of the Alamo Theater Arts Council, she emceed the Globe Awards gala for three years. She performs often with the “Extended Run Players”, a reader’s theater group primarily for seniors which she helped to form.
Even after almost half a century, the love affair between Mary Denman and the broadcasting profession continues unabated. She claims she’ll continue as long as her mind and voice hold out – and as long as there is a job for her to do.
Mim Scharlack (February 20, 2013)
Mim Scharlack was a one of a kind San Antonio native. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and then attended Pepperdine College in California. Small, cute, and fit, she was chosen to be Miss Muscle Beach in 1949, among other titles she received. Soon after, she was adagio dancing at such venues as the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood and the Orpheum Théâtre in Los Angeles.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Mim then took up ice skating. She entered a contest in Chicago to represent them in a national ice skating competition. She won the contest and competed for Chicago in that competition where she won second place. Not too bad for a San Antonio girl! She continued her skating career with the Ice Capades but did not accept their long term contract as she preferred skating in the show at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.
After a few years touring as an ice skater/dancer, Mim hung up her skates and went back to singing and dancing. She performed with Liberace, appeared on the Red Skelton show, and performed in a variety of other venues. She even had bit parts in Alfred Hitchcock movies. She toured the world as a performer to rave reviews in many different languages. In the early 60s, Mim was in Greenwich Village where she was naturally a part of the folk music and bongos scene. There, she once admonished a young folk singer named Robert Zirrmrerman that he should spice up his music. Maybe he took her advice to heart. He later changed his name to Bob Dylan. When her world travels and performances were finished, Mim returned to San Antonio. She taught gospel choir at Healy Murphy where she was affectionately known as Miss Mims. She studied calligraphy, the harmonica, and learned how to play several different drums. She recited her original poetry to bongos in local coffee houses and participated in many Puro Slams. She embraced JumpStart at its conception and did her own performance art there. Mim loved animals and was a dog whisperer.
She was deeply involved with wildlife animal rescue and the Animal Defense League. A gentle, modest person with a great sense of humor, she seemed to have no temper. She likely didn’t appreciate herself as much as others did.
Mim is survived by one brother, Meyers James, one aunt, Esther Vexler, numerous cousins and admiring friends, her group of fellow poets, and her loving dog, Brandy.
Mim published a book of her poems about a magic planet named Verdante. She just might be there.
Published in Express-News on February 27, 2013
photo Mim and her drums by Darrell Pittman
Howard Alan Purpura (June 5, 1940 – January 21, 2013)
Howard Purpura, 72, of San Antonio, Texas, died January 21, 2013.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, son of Howard Robert Purpura and Mildred Mazaney on June 5, 1940. Directly after high school Howard joined the Air Force, serving at Fort Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, TX. After graduating from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, he moved to San Antonio and began a 30+ year career as a high school theatre/media/speech instructor, directing students in the Southwest and Edgewood School districts. His love for young people also led to his service as a youth minister at Manor Baptist Church and a teacher for San Antonio Youth Literacy. In his retirement, Howard continued to hone his skills as a director and co-founder of a theatre group for the Del Webb Hill Country Community. Howard was most happy with family and friends around him, and his favorite pastime was making them laugh. He will be greatly missed by his family and those who called him friend, which is just about everyone he ever met. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Merrie McConnell-Purpura, son Christopher M. Purpura, his wife Kendall and grandchildren Kyler Cienna (2) and Bracken Ross (2 months). An open Celebration of Life Service is scheduled for 2-4:30pm (Dedication at 3pm) on February 2nd at the Del Webb Hill Country Community Center, 4550 Del Webb Boulevard (210-679-0303). In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to San Antonio Youth Literacy 700 N. St Mary’s, Suite 210, San Antonio, TX 78205 (210-299-1533) or the San Antonio Theatre Coalition P.O. Box 830963 (210-779-6782). Expressions of sympathy may be made at www.sunsetnwfuneralhome.com
Published in Express-News on January 30, 2013
Paul Riddle, Jr. (April 20, 2012)
The Renaissance Guild is saddened to announce that Paul Riddle, Jr., President & Co-Founder, passed away suddenly on Friday, April 20, 2012.
Friday, Apr. 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Sutton-Sutton & Woodard’s Mortuary, Inc., 320 South W.W. White Road, San Antonio, Texas 78220
Saturday, Apr. 28, 2012 at 10:00 am – 12 pm
Mount Zion First Baptist Church, 333 Martin Luther King Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78203
Interment: Meadowlawn Memorial Park
Sharon Calverley-Jeffries (1941 – 2012) passed away, surrounded by her family on February 4, 2012.
Sharon was a graduate of Alamo Heights High School where she was actively involved in Theatre, playing the lead in Lute Song, her senior year. Upon graduation from Alamo Heights High School in 1958, she enrolled in the Theatre Department at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She had many roles in college including Hecuba in Trojan Woman.
Upon graduation with a B. A. she married fellow student Charles Jeffries in 1962 and they moved to Hobbs, New Mexico where he taught. In Hobbs she was one of the founders of the Hobbs Little Theatre and played many roles. In 1963 the couple moved to San Antonio where Charles became the Entertainment Director at Fort Sam Houston. Sharon began her teaching career, which lasted for over thirty years, at Brackenridge High School in 1963. Sharon appeared at the Fort Sam Houston Theatre in a number of productions in the next few years. She also appeared in the Billboard Theatre production of Tobacco Road, playing Sister Bessie Smith, and at San Pedro Playhouse as the Governess in The Innocents as well as in a number of other plays. She enrolled at Trinity University/Dallas Theatre Center and played Nina in The Seagull as well as Ophelia in Hamlet ESP at the Dallas Theatre Center, both directed by Paul Baker.
Upon completing her M. A. she decided to try something new and became a Special Education teacher in the Northside Independent School District. After over thirty years she completed her teaching career as the Theatre Instructor at Rayburn Middle School in the NISD. She spent the last years of her life taking care of her special grandson, Drew.
She will be missed by her husband – Charles, son – Brett and three grandsons Blake, Jordan and Drew Jeffries.
Frank P. Christian, a San Antonio attorney once acclaimed “the city’s favorite musical star”, died January 5, 2012. He was 84.
Possessed of a resonant baritone voice and with a dramatic stage presence, his appearances in major roles such as Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha” guaranteed a box office success. Dan Goddard, drama critic for the San Antonio Express News, reported, “Frank Christian, the city’s favorite musical star, has all the charisma to make him the perfect Zorba. A towering presence in a role that also allows him to display the full range of his tremendous acting talents”. Jasmina Wellinghoff, for the then San Antonio Light, noted, “San Antonio’s reigning baritone Frank Christian returns to the stage next weekend. He is our best all-around male performer”. Years later, when he no longer performed theatrical roles, he created a one man show, “Favorites From the Broadway Stage” and sang recitals well into his eighties.
Despite his popularity in musical theater, Christian was also drawn to the dramatic stage, performing leading roles in the plays of Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and G. B. Shaw. Byrd Bonner, for the North San Antonio Times, reflecting back on several seasons of theatre, wrote that Christian’s performance in Miller’s “All My Sons,” “remains for me one of the most powerful and impressive performances by a dramatic actor on a local stage”.
Frank P. Christian III was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, the only child of the former Mary Burnley Wilson and Frank P. Christian, Jr. As a young man, he worked as a merchant seaman and saw much of northern Europe and the Caribbean. He attended a school year at the National University in Mexico City, graduated from the University of Virginia and began his law studies at that university. Christian spoke three foreign languages, including Russian. During the Korean War, and after one year of rigorous training at the Army Language School in Monterey, California, he came to San Antonio as a Russian language translator.
Christian met Harriet Prescott Edmunds, also a Virginian, in 1952 and the couple were married the following year. Together they raised six splendid children: Three boys and three girls. Several years into their marriage, he moved his family to Rome and eventually to Madrid. Upon their return, he opened a law office and was active in the legal profession until his retirement in 1985.
Frank Christian’s roots ran deep in the state of Virginia. His earliest immigrant ancestors, Christopher and Mary Branch, arrived in Jamestown on The London Merchant in the early months of 1620. He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia and the Order of First Families of Virginia. Locally, he was a member of The Argyle and a managing trustee of the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts. Chief among his many interests were a love of Latin and ballroom dancing, at which he and his wife excelled, weekly trips to their historic house at Fort Clark in Brackettville and the care and companionship of his two standard poodles.
Survivors include his wife and six children: Mara Christian Harris of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Alicia Carrington Christian of San Antonio, Prescott Carrington Christian and wife Marilyn and daughters Hannah, Megan and Sarah, Anthony Navarro Christian, his wife Maureen and son Ryan, Pamela Dearing Christian and Benjamin Blackwell Christian and his wife Eloise and twin daughters, Hattie and Eliza, all of Austin.
Memorials may be made in his name to the San Antonio Humane Society, 4804 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78229, the Animal Defense League, 11300 Nacogdoches, San Antonio, TX 78217 or a charity of your choice .
A private interment took place on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at Mission Burial Park North.
You are invited to sign the Guestbook at www.porterloring.com
Published in Express-News on January 9, 2012
Betty Jean “BJ” Naegelin (August 30, 1928 – December 26, 2011)
Betty Jean “BJ” Naegelin passed away peacefully from this life to be with our Lord December 26, 2011 at the age of 83. In as much as BJ loved the Christmas season, the colorful lights, decorations, it is little surprise that she remained with us through this season.
Born in Ft. Worth, TX August 30, 1928 she spent many years in McAllen, before making San Antonio her home. As a teacher, BJ knew, “That to teach is to touch a life forever.”; she loved to teach. After many years of teaching English and speech classes along with her husband Lanny; she was inducted into the National Forensic League Hall of Fame for her work. BJ
had too many passions to list but it would be remiss to not include some. She was a cat lover, and always had at least one feline companion. While most of us are content to eat, BJ wanted to DINE. And Dine she did, often for hours, in her own attempts to prove the merits of lingering in the moment. All that truly knew BJ know, that she was filled with a heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, and the world is a lesser place without her.
BJ loved twice in her life, and she was preceded in death by both her beloved husbands; James B. Boazman, Jr. and Lanny Dean Naegelin. Her sister Nancy Miller also preceded BJ. She is survived by her daughters Bonny Johnston, and her husband, Jim and Jamey Siefert and her husband, Dan.; Sister Millicent Mulder and her husband David; Grandchildren, Kimberly Gore (Brad), Zachary Jackson (Erin), Jill Marion (Nolan), Jeremy Johnston; 8 great grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the staff of Vitas Hospice and Clare Bridge Place for their loving care. The family welcomes flowers; or donations can be made San Antonio Vitas Hospice or to the NFL for “The Lanny and BJ Naegelin Scholarship Fund”
A Graveside Service was held at Mission Burial Park North on Thursday December 29, 2011 at 3:30 P.M. You may sign the online guestbook at www.missionparks.com , under the obituary section.
It is our sad duty to inform you that we have lost another member of our theatre family.
SATCO wishes to express our condolences to the family and friends of Franco Ontiveros, who passed on Oct. 4. Franco was a beloved actor, director, stage manager, and all around teatristo, who worked many years at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Witte Museum Gallery Theatre. He was also a wonderfully kind and gentle soul who will be greatly missed.
~Mellissa Marlowe, SATCO President
Our deepest sympathies and prayers to Franco Ontiveros’ family. We had the awesome privilege of knowing and working with Franco last year. He was indeed a sweet kind, BRAVE and talented man. He blessed us. ~Sincerely, Kathy Hornsby, Hornsby Theatre
Maggie Hardy (June 14, 1924 – June 25, 2011)
Maggie Hardy, nee Margery Anne Hunter, died Saturday June 25, 2011. Her husband of 61 years, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Earl (Moose) Hardy was at her side. She is survived by their seven children, their spouses, and 14 grandchildren.
In the 45 years that she lived in San Antonio, Maggie was a highly regarded contributor and often instigator of activities in the San Antonio performing arts as well as multiple civic organizations. Maggie pursued careers in education, real estate, and family counseling. Of all her accomplishments, she was proudest of her seven children.
Maggie was a remarkable, accomplished woman. She loved the family she made with her husband as well as the one she came from. She led a full life and she loved her life. Maggie never stopped learning things, never met someone she wasn’t instant friends with, and never let anything stop her from doing what she wanted. She traveled the world, read and absorbed everything in sight, took on tasks no one else thought to do, valued everything and everybody, and looked forward to anything in her path.
She was a force to be reckoned with and someone to emulate, respect, and admire. She was funny, smart, and beautiful and she was a good Mother, wife, and friend. Her family and friends will truly miss her.
Ever the theatre grand dame, Maggie concluded, “She had a good run.” She was especially grateful to Carol Ann’s Home, VITAS Hospice, Dr. Santiago, and the staff at Cancer Care Center of South Texas in her final days.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society or the charity of choice. Funeral arrangements included a visitation at Mission Park Funeral Chapels North on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 6:00 to 9:00 pm with a Celebration of her life at 7:00 pm. Mass was held at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church at 223 E. Summit on Thursday morning June 30, 2011 at 10:30 am. Interment took place immediately after the Mass at Mission Burial Park North at 20900 IH10 West.
You may sign the on-line guest book at www.missionparks.com
Patrick Finley (November 12, 1952 to June 3, 2011)
Patrick Thomas Finley entered into Heaven on June 3, 2011, to reunite with his parents, Marjorie Culbertson Finley and Dee Solon Finley and his best friend William Wells.
Pat was born in Fort Worth, Texas on November 12, 1952. Music was Pat’s life. As a child he was a member of the Texas Boys’ Choir and performed in several musicals, including The Music Man. After graduating from Paschal High School, Pat attended Trinity University where he received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees. Pat was a talented musician who performed as pianist or musical director at the San Antonio Theatre Coalition, Alamo Street Theatre, Harlequin Dinner Theatre, Josephine Theatre and the San Pedro Playhouse. He was active as an accompanist and performed with many San Antonio vocalists and once accompanied Mel Torme in Los Angeles.
Pat played at San Antonio Country Club for many years and most recently at Bethany Congregational UCC. Pat was a wonderful teacher who taught piano to hundreds of children and adults in San Antonio over the past 35 years. He also served as a member of the faculty at Our Lady of The Lake University, Trinity University, and St George Episcopal School and was a member of the Musicians’ Society of San Antonio and the Music Teachers National Association.
He is survived by his brothers, Dee S. Finley, Jr., and his wife Becky, and Robert C. Finley and his wife Harriet, and by his cousins, nieces and nephews and will be dearly missed by his family and many friends, who all loved him more than Pat could have ever realized. In lieu of flowers, donations to the College of Music at Trinity University are appreciated.
Published in Express-News on June 12, 2011
After going into Hospice last night, my brother, Robert, passed away today around noon, shortly after the Last Rites were given to him. We were all there and we kept our promise to him to make his last days peaceful as possible by hearing his family laughing and talking to him, and by including him in everything. I will miss him terribly, but, hopefully, he’s made contact by now with our Mom and his son who both preceded him in death.
There are many people who know, or knew, him. He was a member of the San Antonio Theatre Coalition and, was also involved in many productions as an Actor, Assistant Director, Lights and Sound Operator, and set construction. In addition, he was very proud of being instrumental many years ago in setting up the building blocks for the Playbill which has become one of the most important parts of SATCO.
Thank all of you for your care and concern. Please say a prayer for his widow, Joyce, and for his children.
Robert Flaugher will live on in the hearts & memories of all those who were fortunate to count him as a friend. I will always remember his positive attitude, his wonderful laugh, and how much he loved his family. ~AynPhillips
Bob was a treasure. ~William Christopher Champlin
Lois Ann Wallace Turner (May 28, 1948 – May 16, 2011)
Lois Ann Wallace Turner, 62, died Monday, May 16, 2011, in New Braunfels, Texas.
Miss Turner was born May 28, 1948, in Visalia, California to Flavil Holt Wallace and Helen Jane Posey Wallace. She grew up in Fresno, California and graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1966. She earned her BA from California State University at Fresno in 1971 in Speech. She also earned an MA in theatre from the University of Texas at El Paso and a MFA from Memphis State University.
She was a professor of speech at Palo Alto Community College. She retired in 2010. She loved the Theatre and was active in it for over 40 years, directing, acting, and costuming.
Survivors include her sister and her husband, Bobbie and Lamar Carnes of New Braunfels, Texas; niece and her husband, Michelle and Steve Wyrick of Amarillo, Texas; nephew and his wife, Shawn and Tina Smith of Tollhouse, California; great-nephews, Jared Wyrick of Amarillo, Texas and Austin Smith of Tollhouse, California; great-nieces, Jessica Wyrick of Amarillo, Texas, Megan Smith of Tollhouse, California and Mikala Wyrick of Amarillo, Texas.
Graveside services were held at Mission Burial Park South, San Antonio at 1:00 pm, Friday, May 20, 2011 with Reverend Andrew Moody officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations are welcomed to the American Brain Tumor Association or the National Brain Tumor Society.
Please be advised of the passing of long time community theatre actor – Earley Teal – Saturday, February 19, 2011. He was a founding member of Hornsby Entertainment Theatre Company and had appeared on many San Antonio stages including the noted Carver Cultural Theatre, since retiring from the Air Force in 1990. Notable performances include Driving Miss Daisy, A Raisin in the Sun, A Soldiers’ Play and Exonerated to name a few!
Mr Teal was also a noted storyteller and a member of the Professional Storytellers Guild of Texas.
A Memorial service is pending. For more info. call his family at (210) 675-1799 or Hornsby Theatre at (210) 533-0577. ~Kathy Hornsby
Earley B. Teal, Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force Retired, age 73, a loving husband and caring father and grandfather, passed away peacefully on the morning of February 19, 2011, at home with his wife by his side. Earley B. was a native of Dallas, Texas. He was born on December 24, 1937, to the late Leonard and Seretha Teal. Earley served honorably in the U.S. Air Force for just over 22 years. Over the course of his life, the theme of activities and community service initiatives that Earley B. participated in involved threads of activism, advocacy, and leadership development, all of which fit during his active leadership involvement with the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association in San Antonio. The Memorial Service will be held on February 24, 2011 at 10:30 a.m., at the Freedom Chapel located on the Lackland Air Force Base. Guests are welcome to visit with the family before the service and fellowship after the service. The address and phone number is 2200 Truemper Street Lackland AFB, TX 78236 – (210) 671-4208.
The memorial service for noted San Antonio actor – Earley B. Teal (co-founding member of Hornsby Theatre) – was Thursday, FEB. 24, 2011 at 10:00 am – at the Freedom Chapel on Lackland AFB. To send condolences, the family can be reached at email@example.com or call (210) 675-1799. For more information, contact Kathy Hornsby – Hornsby Theatre at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (210) 533-0577.
One of the noted performances Earley B. Teal was last seen in, was Driving Miss Daisy, and also getting the critics attention often, included Earley Teals’ performances in Soldiers Play, Sty of the Blind Pig and Raisin in the Sun, all with Hornsby Theatre. We will greatly miss Earley Teal – an Awesome Actor, an Awesome Person.
Tito Villalobos Moreno (January 19, 1941 to January 11, 2011)
A Shining Light was extinguished on Tues. Jan. 11, 2011. Tito was born on January 19, 1941 in Lockhart, Texax to Tomas G and Rebecca V. Moreno. He is survived by his loving wife of 34 years Susan, daughter Adria (Juan), grandson Zander , and son Tomas. In addition, he is survived by his mother Rebecca, brothers Tommy (Terry) and family, Thad (Anna) and family, sisters Adela Jeanne Carrizales and family, and Debbie Hill and family and countless nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father Tomas; grandparents Andres and Adela Moreno and Josefa and Refugio Villalobos. Tito served his country in the U.S. Navy and was given a Presidential Citation for his rescue work during the earthquake in Kodiak, Alaska. He was a graduate of the first class of Highlands H.S. and received a B.A. in music from Trinity University. He spent many years as a musician, writer and arranger of shows and song. Later in his career, he devoted his talents to working with the elderly and disabled. The family would like to thank his brother Thad for being his devoted caregiver throughout his illness sitting with him many hours in the hospital and at home. Additionally, we thank the family of Pride Health Services for their love and support during these past years and Odyssey Hospice for making his final days more comfortable. His accomplishments are too numerous to mention. Instead, we invite you to join us on Sat., Jan. 22 at 11:00 am for a memorial celebration at 8231 Callaghan Rd. In lieu of flowers, a scholarship has been established to provide an annual scholarship to a student going into the field of health. Contribution in Tito’s name can be made to Pride Health Services, 12500 San Pedro, Ste. 315, S.A. 78216.
Tito was the first “musical director” I worked with. He brought zest and life to the show and to everything he did. All this and a wonderful musician. Thanks Tito, you made my entry into the musical world of theatre a lot of fun. We all will miss you and that great smile of yours. ~Steven Stoli
I have so many wonderful memories of Tito!! When Tito told you a story, he did it in exact and complete detail!! He was a man of his word; if he told you he’d do something, he did it!! ~Bill Copeland
Thoughts of Tito always brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. He is missed. ~Diana
I knew Tito during my time as a Trinity music student in the late 60’s. Not only was he a terrific musician, patient advisor to us younger students, and a steadying force to at least one freshman, but he was oh so cool. Man, was he cool. Sadly I did not stay in touch with him while I moved about my life but I am so sorry to learn of his passing. My thoughts are with his family and friends. ~Susan Masinter Riley, Trinity Univ. class of 1969
Thanks to James Prevott (also pictured) for use of the photo
Ed passed away Monday, January 10, 2011 after a long illness.
Everyone knew that inside that “Bear-sized” body of his was the kindest and most gentle soul anyone could ever meet. He was the epitome of what an actor should be. ~Steven Stoli
When I went to L.A. for the first time 6 years ago, Ed was my port in a storm. He showed me the ropes, would coach my auditions. It was so nice having a friend each year to connect with in a sea of strangers. He was a brilliant Shakespeare actor as well. ~Robin Early
Ed! I was his number one elf to his Santa Claus at a special two week run special event at La Villita. He was a beautiful jolly guy. Loved him. Sad. ~Pete Sanchez
Todd Spann (November 11, 1964 to December 25, 2010)
Express News Obituary:
Todd Spann, age 46, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, December 25, 2010 in San Antonio.
He was born on November 11, 1964 in Denton, Texas. A lifelong San Antonio resident, he graduated James Madison High School and earned a bachelors degree in Psychology from Howard Payne University. Todd joined the Air Force reserves and was called to serve his country during Desert Storm.
Todd lived a deeply spiritual life. He had a deep reverence and concern for those less fortunate than he. This led to a great empathy, love and affection for the elderly and the sick. He demonstrated this in a choice of careers that allowed him to focus on the needs of those he felt called upon to help. He felt it a privilege to be able to dedicate his life to acting upon his convictions. Todd was widely regarded as a born leader. He demonstrated this leadership as Vice President of Marketing at Air Force Village. He also provided instrumental leadership at The Village at Incarnate Word, and was selected to manage business outreach and development initiatives at Incarnate Word.
Todd was blessed with a beautiful lyric tenor voice. His musical diversity enabled performances in roles spanning local musical theatre to a choral performance at Carnegie Hall. He was an avid fan of the Churchill High School Drum Line, and was a volunteer with numerous charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity. He was very active in Democratic Party politics culminating in an invitation to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Todd was preceded in death by his mother, Delores Ann Spann. Todd is survived by his partner of thirty-one years, Tommy Preston, Jr.; sisters; Renee Spann Parker and husband Jack Parker, Angelia Colwell Berkowitz and husband Carl M. Berkowitz, M.D.; sisters-in-law; Chrissie Preston Kolb and husband Howard Kolb, Ashley Preston Sipes and husband Shawn, and Brooke Preston; nephews; Brad Parker, Douglas Todd Parker, Nathan Berkowitz and Peyton Kolb; Nieces; Jordan Kolb, Emily Kolb and Chelsea Berkowitz; father-in-law; Tom Preston, Sr. and wife Mary Preston, mother-in-law; Anita Preston Harrison; aunt; Shirley Jones and husband Freddie Jones; his best friend of 22 years Wynette Hadnott Keller, as well as other friends and family too numerous to mention.
Memorial Mass with Military Honors, Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm; The Chapel of the Incarnate Word, The University of the Incarnate Word, 4503 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78209
Fr. Ramon J. Gonzalez will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sisters Care, at the Village at Incarnate Word, 4707 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78209 or to The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, 4503 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78209.
You are invited to sign the Guestbook at www.porterloring.com
Robert (Bob) Swain (July 8, 1928 – July 7, 2010)
Been a while since I’ve had sad news to report, but hoping you can get the word out on the passing of a significant figure in San Antonio’s theatre scene of the ‘60s-’70s, J. Robert (Bob) Swain, founder and artistic director of the First Repertory Company of San Antonio (FRC), who set the bar for excellence in San Antonio Theatre and influenced so many involved in it, a number of whom went on to shine in theatrical careers beyond S.A.
A memorial service took place Tuesday, July 13, 11 a.m., at Weed-Corley-Fish-North, 3125 N. Lamar (at 32nd) in Austin, Texas 78075.
Jaston Williams of “Greater Tuna” fame (and who was on the acting staff with me at FRC in 1972-73) gave the eulogy. Hopefully, the S.A. paper may have more down the line on Bob and First Rep, which was originally located at 110 Chichester in Alamo Heights (just off Broadway at the Austin Hwy. in a Quonset hut that was razed a few years ago) before moving for its final two seasons (the second, minus a paid acting company) into what had been the International Theatre at HemisFair, on the corner of South Alamo and Durango. It was bull-dozed long ago.
Marianna Blase, Dan Laurence and Bob Jolly on SATCO’s memorial page were among local actors involved with First Rep, and David Bowen and Terry Loughery (who later worked with Bob in Austin theatre after FRC folded) were former staff members. The list of living actors/technicians who worked with First Rep would be quite lengthy and too long for me to research and list today. Suffice it to say, it was a bunch!
~Carol Sowa, Former “First Repper”
J. Robert (Bob) Swain died July 7, 2010 in Austin, Texas. The only child of Lucille and William T. Swain, he was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 8, 1928. Bob graduated from high school in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Speech and English from Wake Forest, his Masters of Fine Arts from Baylor and did post graduate work at Florida State. A member of the Marines, Bob served in China at the end of World War II. As Director of the Vanguard Theatre at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Bob was recently honored as its founder at a reunion on the campus. His impressive career included teaching theatre at Trinity University in San Antonio, founder of the First Repertory Company of San Antonio, serving as the Artistic Director of Zach Scott Theatre in Austin and a professor of drama and theatre arts at Austin Community College. Bob always demanded and received the best from his students and performers. Bob was predeceased by his daughter Debby Swain. He is survived by his wife Polly Coffin Swain, his son and daughter-in-law Robb and Lorrie Swain of San Antonio, grandsons Colby, Brandon and Dillon, and the mother of his children Doris Jane Swain of San Antonio. In addition, he is survived by his sisters-in-law Dr. Candi Coffin of Sioux City, Iowa, Michelle Umstattd and husband Dr. Robert Umstattd of Liberty Hill, and brother-in-law Rod Coffin and wife Elizabeth, nieces and nephews Renee, Laura (Bryan), Sarah (Dustin), Rod (Jennifer) and Chris. Bob was an avid reader, a sailor, and a supporter of the University of Texas Longhorns, Dallas Cowboys and Wake Forest Demon Deacons. He will be remembered for his love of family, the theatre, his students and his zest for life.
A memorial service to celebrate Bob’s life will be held on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11 a.m. at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 N. Lamar, Austin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of your choice, the American Cancer Society, a Hospice facility, or the Salvation Army are encouraged.
It is with a very heavy heart and with much sadness that we have to inform you that one of our Alamo Theatre Arts Council judges, David Ferguson lost his battle with cancer this past Saturday, July 3, 2010. David was an excellent judge and served in that capacity for many years. The obituary will be in Friday’s San Antonio Express News, but the details of the service are as follows.
A memorial service was scheduled for Saturday, July 10 at 1:30 P.M. at the Episcopal Church of Reconciliation, 8900 Starcrest, San Antonio Tx. 78217, with a reception afterward at the church to celebrate David’s journey through life.
Noel Noblitt passed away on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Years ago, before travelling to NYC to make her living as a costume designer, Noel designed elaborate and beautiful costumes for many shows here in San Antonio. ~Amy LaPresto
I remember Noel. She did excellent costumes for the Army’s production of “1776” at the Fort Sam Houston Playhouse in July of 1976. My condolences to Noel’s family. I am happy to have known her. ~Florence Bunten
Eugene “Big Gene” Rey has gone to serve the Lord on January 23, 2010 at the age of 49. He is preceded in death by his father Jose L. Rey. Gene passed away in Los Angeles, CA of a sudden heart attack. He was a graduate of Holmes High School and he performed at the Melodrama Theater.
He left to L.A. in hopes of following an acting career. He appeared in several commercials, music videos, comedy skits, and movies. He loved living in L.A. California. Gene is survived by his mother Frances Rey Ramirez, brothers Joe Rey (Gloria), Armando Rey (Sylvia), Adolph Flores Jr., as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will begin Monday, February 1, 2010 at 1 pm with a rosary to be recited at 7 pm. A funeral mass will be held Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 10 am at San Juan de Los Lagos Catholic Church with interment to follow at San Jose Burial Park. Services courtesy of Castillo Mission Funeral Home.
“Big Gene” Rey who lived in LA but was a part of this acting community for so long, passed away of a heart attack, he was 49. He was a great actor, mostly working at the Melodrama Theatre, and San Antonio Fine Arts Center and Fairytale Theatre. He was the sweetest man, a joy to work with, and a good friend. He will be missed. ~Pam Ramirez
Our beloved friend, Bruce Herbert Limpus passed away Saturday, August 29, 2009 from complications due to cancer. Bruce was a husband, father and grandfather; a prolific artist, author, producer, director and fabulous storyteller. He performed on many San Antonio stages and was a member of The University of The Incarnate Word’s Extended Run Players. Retired from the Air Force, Bruce taught school and with his wife of 50 years, Sheila, was a founder of The Shoestring Shakespeare Company.
Bruce received the Alamo Theater Arts Council Service Award and The San Antonio Theatre Coalition’s Living Legend Award.
~SATCO Board Member Marcie Larson & Ruth Lown
Funeral Services for Bruce H. Limpus were Tuesday September 8th at 10:15 a.m. at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. The family requests that no funeral black be worn.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to:
Christus VNA Hospice Inpatient Center, 9303 Cinnamon Hill #C, San Antonio, TX 78240
Funeral arrangements with Mission Park South, (210) 924-4242
Express News Obituary
Bruce Limpus, renaissance man, passed away August 29. Born May 14, 1928, Bruce enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in 1946 and served for 26 years. His career was spent as a linguist and crypto-analyst with the USAF Security Service. Upon retirement from the USAF, Bruce taught English, Drama, and GT Media classes in the Edgewood District for 21 years. These experiences led him to write a widely used guide to media education. In 1997, he began to work full time on his lifelong love, the arts. He was a visual artist, poet, novelist, playwright, actor, director, and scenic and costume designer, winning several awards for his work. In 2003, SATCO recognized him as a Living Legend.
If a man’s life is measured in the number of people whose lives he has touched, Bruce had a remarkable life. He nurtured numerous artists, actors, writers, teachers and students, all whom benefited from his knowledge, generosity, and humor.
Bruce is survived by Sheila, his wife of over 51 years, his daughter Teresa Zapp, her husband David, and their children Amanda and Jacob. He is also survived by innumerable friends who loved him deeply and will miss him.
Graveside Services will be held on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 10:15 A.M. at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Christus VNA Hospice, 9303 Cinnamon Hill Cottage C, San Antonio, Texas 78240. For personal acknowledgement you may sign the guest book at www.missionparks.com in the obituary section.
We offer our sincere and heartfelt sympathy to the family of Bruce Limpus. God Bless- ~Kathy Hornsby- Hornsby Entertainment Theatre Company
Gertrude Baker has passed away. I worked with her a number of times in a number of theatres, most recently at St. Philip’s College in early 2000…in Volpone with Jerry Watson and Bill Gundry. She was there to teach my students about being professional. She did her job well. They are better for knowing her. I will miss her, her talent and her professionalism. ~Charles Jeffries
The funeral service was held Friday the 17th at noon at Sunset Memorial Park on Austin Hwy. Burial followed at Ft. Sam. The viewing for friends was Thursday the 16th from 6-9 pm at Sunset.
Express News Obituary
LONG LIVE GERTRUDE!
LTC Gertrude E. Baker, Army Nurse Corps, (Ret) died after a long battle with Alzheimers on 8 July 2009. Gert was born in Brooklyn, New York on 11 July 1937. She was preceded in death by her father, Reginald H. Baker and mother Salome’ Baker, brother Roderick Baker and brother Reginald H. Baker Jr. She is survived by her brother Charles F. Baker, his wife Bonita and children Cornell Baker and Aliah Baker-Holman. She is also survived by numerous nephews and nieces. She is also survived by special friends Victoria Bennett, Lars Hundere, Grace and Maris, Laurie Aust and Marian Walls [and numerous friends and colleagues too numerous to list here. Suffice it say, everyone knew Gertrude!]
Gert graduated from Bellevue and Mills School of Nursing, New York City, in 1958. She joined the Army Nurse Corps and began her career at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Her travels in the Army took her to many places in the US to include Brooke Army Medical Center. She served in the Republic of Vietnam at the 36th Evacuation Hospital. LTC Bakers’ awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, First Class. Following her retirement from the Army in 1977, Gert pursued another goal that she was passionate about. She attended the University of Incarnate Word and obtained her degree in Theatre Arts. She is well known in San Antonio as a performer, organizer and director. She served on many boards and panels with Jump-Start Performance Company, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, The Alamo Theatre Arts Council, Carver Community Cultural Center to name but a few.
Gert collected many pieces of local and Mexican art. She was an active member of the Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, and the Witte Museum. She was actively involved in fund raising and most notably with the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, the Carver and University of the Incarnate Word Scholarship Program. She was an outstanding performer and was in many plays such as “A my name is Alice”, “High Yellow Rose” and “Night Mother”. She enjoyed reading stories and poems for audiences and was very active in this venue. Gert loved to begin her day with a long luncheon with friends and maybe do some shopping and the evening would include a theatre arts production, a fund raiser, attending a showing of new artworks followed by a breakfast at Earl Abels, the original one on Broadway. Gert was an avid sports fan and followed the Spurs and Silver Stars Basketball games closely. Gert was also an active member of The Army Nurse Corps Association and the 36th Evacuation Hospital Reunion Group. She supported the AMEDD Museum, Fort Sam Houston, TX and was a frequent shopper in the Gift Shop. My, how Gert loved to shop!! Gertrude will be missed by all.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Army Nurse Corps Association, The AMEDD Museum, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. The family would like to thank the care providers at the Audie Murphy VA GEM/Memory Clinic, Esplanade Gardens Assisted Living Facility and Odyssey Hospice for the care and compassion provided to Gertrude and family.
To leave a message for the family, go to www.mem.com
Betty Caffey ( April 25, 1921 – June 27, 2009)
Former San Pedro Playhouse Properties Mistress, Betty Caffey, died Saturday morning, June 27, 2009. Born April 25, 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio, Betty was a fixture in the San Antonio Theater world since the late 1950s. She performed on stage, worked in stage crews and numerous volunteer positions for almost every theater in town before becoming San Pedro Playhouse’s Properties Mistress in 1971, where she served until 2001. Betty’s son, James Caffey, is the Building Superintendent at the Playhouse. She is also survived by son, Gregory Schlundt, his wife Lynn and grandson, Dale.
Betty moved to San Antonio in the early 1950’s after serving as a U.S. Army nurse during World War II. She worked at the Nix Hospital in pediatrics and as a Supervisor for the Bexar County Health Department. Betty was a licensed airplane pilot, an active Scout leader and a champion bowler. Betty will be greatly missed by everyone in the theater community.
Our prayers will extend to Jimmy Caffey and family. ~Tray Brown
Please add my condolences to the Caffey Family. They should be sooo proud of Betty and what she contributed to San Antonio’s world of Theatre. ~ Georgia.
Donnie Neubauer (July 28, 1950 to April 15, 2009)
Donnie Neubauer, a gifted actor who had been ill for a while, died Tuesday. Plans are afoot for a memorial service at the San Pedro Playhouse. At this point, it’s tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday (April 20). His sister, Linda Humphreys, says that the service will include performances and a slide show capturing him in action. One of his final performances was a funny turn in “Divorce, Southern Style” at the Steven Stoli Playhouse in 2007, playing the object of an ex-wife’s scheme. Other memorable credits from the past few years include directing a solid “House of Yes;” a turn as Rudolph’s dad in “The Reindeer Monologues,” one of the last shows by Actors’ Theatre of San Antonio during its stint at the Woodlawn Theatre; the jokester uncle in a sparkling staging of “Ah, Wilderness!” at the San Pedro Playhouse; and a particularly strong Peck in ATSA’s” How I Learned to Drive.” He also wrote one of the strongest pieces of 2005’s edition of TheatreASAP.
I am very sorry to hear that, He is in better place. ~Harvette Ellington
Express News Obituary
Donnie Neubauer – 07/28/1950 ~ 04/14/2009
If there were a season, occasion or event, Donnie always had a joke on hand. Growing up in the entertainment world, Donnie emerged as a gifted actor, singer, writer, director, producer, and clown. As a child Donnie was a national roller-skating champion and continued to be an avid sports enthusiast his entire life. After attending Edison, A&M and SAC, Donnie entered the professional world of advertising. He starred in countless TV and radio commercials as well as some film, but he always stayed true to his roots in live theatre. Donnie was preceded in death by his parents CJ and Hazel Neubauer and is survived by his son, Benjamin; grandson, Greg; fiancé, Shelly Chance; brother, John; sister, Linda, numerous nieces and nephews and a treasure trove of life long friends.
A celebration of Donnie’s life was held Monday, April 20th at 7:00 p.m. at the San Pedro Playhouse. Contributions can be made to the Extended Run Players at UIW and the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.
Larry Schwartz (June 26, 1947 – February 14, 2009)
Director – Writer – Actor
It is with much sadness that I report the passing of Larry Schwartz. Sandy called to say Larry passed away yesterday morning around 9:33 am. He went very peacefully and was surrounded by his family.
There will be a viewing this coming Tuesday, February 17th from 6 – 8 p.m. at Mission Park Funeral Home on Cherry Ridge. And service will be held there on Wednesday, February 18 at 9 a.m. An obituary with any other details will appear in the San Antonio Express-News tomorrow.
San Antonio actors, techies and audiences have lost a great talent.
God bless you Larry Schwartz,
When Larry Schwartz wanted to bring “His Girl Friday” to the stage, he spent, by his own account, 45 hours transcribing the dialogue of the movie in order to adapt it.
As an actor, writer, director, sound manager and in other behind-the-scenes roles, he devoted many more hours to local theater.
Schwartz died Saturday, shortly after suffering a massive stroke. He was 61.
“San Antonio actors, techies and audiences have lost a great talent,” said theater owner Steven Stoli.
At age 11, Schwartz won a talent contest at the Woodlawn Theatre by playing “Malagueña”on the harmonica. He learned how to play from his father, who had played in a harmonica group in New York that later became The Harmonicats.
The following year, he directed a play for his sixth-grade class that his father wrote, a parody of “Cinderella.”
Years later, after attending St. Mary’s University for a couple of years, he began his first career working as a software developer and doing accounting.
Then in 1992, his wife, Sandy, joined the local theater company Steven Stoli Productions. It didn’t take much to rekindle Schwartz’s interest in performing.
“It was always there,” she said. “I’m so grateful that we were able to spend so many years doing something we loved.”
He filled in as a sound designer on a production, and quickly moved to engineering the sound for more of the company’s productions.
He also started the company’s website.
“When I see people leaving our Theatre with smiles on their faces or joyful tears in their eyes, I know that in some small way I’ve entertained them,” he was quoted in a theater company bio. “I’ve made a difference.”
He directed his first show for Stoli in 1997, and over the following years directed more than 40 productions. Many of those featured his wife.
“In a way, it was really good because we were able to talk on two different levels,” Sandy Schwartz said. “We were able to communicate as director and actress and also as husband and wife.”
In recent years, Schwartz moved away from the theater as it began to wind down its operation. It closed at the end of January and is reopening later this month under new ownership as the Rose Theater Company.
originally posted by Edmund Tijerina- Express-News
Founder and Executive Director of Circle Arts Theatre, Elizabeth Elliott, took her final bow on life’s stage on November 8, 2008 at the age of 76. She is survived by daughter, Roberta D. Elliot; two brothers, Charles Ducibella and wife, Phyllis, and John Ducibella; and a theatrefull of relatives, friends and extended family members. She was preceded in death by daughter, Lynne Marie Elliott.
As a divorced mother of two handicapped daughters, Elizabeth took the ultimate leap of faith by quitting her job as a registered nurse to devote her life to Circle Arts Theatre. This lead role resulted in forty years of artistic achievements including the founding of the Greater New Braunfels Arts Council and the establishment of several on-going annual arts events including Dinner with the Arts, Caroling on the Plaza and the county-wide poetry contest.
Elizabeth was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater New Braunfels Arts Council and was named Woman of the Year in the Arts by the San Antonio Express-News. For five years, she also wrote a weekly column, “The Art of the Matter,” for The Herald-Zeitung.
Of her many accomplishments, Elizabeth was extremely proud of being a published poet and an award-winning director. Her talents also extended beyond the arts, and she cherished her role as a nurse to help to bring newborns into the world and assist the elderly in their final days.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 11th at Zoeller Funeral Home with interment to follow at Comal Cemetery. Visitation hours will be from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday, November 10th. Memorials may be made to the Circle Arts Theatre Building Improvement Fund at 124 Elizabeth Avenue, New Braunfels, TX 78130.
I do so apologize for my being unable to attend to this both; “special, as well as unique individual”. Having just lost someone at least as special…my thoughts, prayers, and hope’s go with her, as well as those she left behind in this audience. I know that she most surely plays to a far; “larger and grander house”…. May the Lord go with all of whom she touched….Now…CURTAIN……..
With all regret…and respect… ~Jessie James Blakkhartt
My Condolences and My Prayers Go Out To Her Family. ~robloko78
Maureen Halligan Ibbs (May 5, 1914 – October 19, 2008)
It is with deep sadness that I share with you this news: Maureen Halligan died early this morning, October 19th, 2008. She had been suffering from a hacking cough but was quite clear mentally and as talkative as ever when I visited her yesterday afternoon.
Then about 2:30 this morning the nurse on duty at Chandler called to tell Dick McCracken that when she went to check on Maureen she found she had died. Apparently, Maureen was awake at the midnight check, but then died before the next one. Dick and I drove over there and waited until the funeral directors came to remove the body.
Details for Maureen’s funeral are pending due to decisions that have to be made by her family in Ireland. I am sure the newspapers will have those details, but I will also try to reach you with them.
God grant our precious Maureen the rest she has certainly earned! She is now reunited with her beloved Ronnie! ~Sr. Germaine
Maureen Halligan Ibbs
May 5, 1914 – October 19, 2008
Professor Emerita of Theatre, University of the Incarnate Word
Interestingly enough, before theatre claimed her, she was University College Dublin-educated as a cellist and music was her first love. It was the Earl of Longford who enticed her out of University College and into the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. Her interest in music continues today with her support of public radio and television. Indeed, when she traveled to Europe for long periods of time, she left her radio on tuned to classical music.” If someone is going to rob me, “ she says, “They might as well hear the best.”
During those intervening years she also performed on the stages of the Abbey and Gate Theatres in Dublin, at the Theatre Royal, in films including Disney productions [the last was Darby O’Gill and the Little People], on television [including Playhouse 90 and Ed Sullivan], radio [Peer Gynt], and theatrical tours to the Mideast. Among those she worked with are the late Carroll O’Connor, Siobhan O’Casey, Dan O’Herlihy, Josie MacAvin and Sir Tyrone Guthrie, and to this day is known for having rejected actor Sean Connery for the Dublin Players as being “too young and inexperienced” to tour America.
In 1964 Ms. Halligan returned to San Antonio, shortly joined by her husband actor Ronald Ibbs, and together they developed the theatre program at then Incarnate Word College, established a resident company, and helped Incarnate Word not only build a program but a handsome new theatre facility serving the campus and the community. All this while she was responsible for the regional auditions for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Among the non-theatrical hats she wore during the following years was the directorship of WENCOE, a program dedicated to encouraging women to return to or begin studies in higher education. As a producer, for years she rounded up campus and San Antonio talent for her every Friday at noon Cafe; Ole free entertainment series on campus. One of those groups, The Small World, has continued performing in San Antonio for over thirty years.
For the three decades after the 1960s, Ms. Halligan and her husband richly deserved the title of First Couple of San Antonio Theatre. They shared their talent and years of professional experience with other theatres in San Antonio, and to this day it would be a rare San Antonio theatre which does not have in their company someone who studied or performed onstage with Ms. Halligan. It would be easy to list the Incarnate Word theatre graduates and the contributions they have made in San Antonio and beyond. It may be more impressive to mention those who never attended, or at least never graduated. Like young high school student Bruce McGill, who came for a professional challenge and is now a major Hollywood actor, or a very talented Jesse Borrego who needed determined Halligan encouragement to “give California a chance,” or a Joe Sears and Jason Williams she gently urged to get out of town.
Dedicated to Irish theatre and playwrights, Ms. Halligan from the 1950s forward gave them a showcase in San Antonio and introduced generations of young people to the challenges and wit of this ancient tradition. All this she did by performing as well as teaching. She remembers, fondly, of directing in the early 1960s young Hispanic women of the Little Flower Academy in scenes from Riders to the Sea. These were young women who never even saw the sea, or experienced anything Irish, but knew how to imagine and how to feel poetry. She introduced San Antonio to a theatrical James Joyce, the tragedy of Juno and the Paycock, the hypocrisy of Shadow and Substance, and the humanity of Da.
The very last expression one ever used in connection with Maureen Halligan and 2008 San Antonio Women’s Hall of Famer is “declining years.” She was a founding board member and performer with the innovative Extended Run Players of UIW, made up completely of senior “retired” performers. She also visited college classes, local radio programs, went on student recruiting trips, rarely misses a theatrical, symphony, chamber music, opera or ballet performance in San Antonio, followed international news with a passion, and very likely could have been a sports consultant on the latest in tennis or golf which she followed with a passion. And the SPURS!
Born Mary Josephine Teresa Halligan to Michael and Mary MacAvin Halligan in Dublin, she and her sisters were orphaned at an early age. She is predeceased by her parents, her husband Ronald Ibbs Smith-Millard, her sisters Sunniva Clarke and Deirdre O’Connor, and her devoted cousin and co-worker, Josie MacAvin. She is survived by her nieces Sunniva and Oliver Sheridan, Ann and Robin Simmons and nephew Michael Clarke all of Ireland, plus great and great great nieces and nephews in Ireland, England, India and the USA, not to mention legions of other relatives and fans cross the world. Special thanks to Dr. Charles Briseno, Dr. Mario Gutierrez, Dr. Sabas Abuabara and the doctors and staff of the Nix, Baptist Hospital and the staff at the Chandler Assisted Living Center, Sister Germaine Corbin, CCVI, and her POA Dick McCracken.
Services: Friday, October, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. Rosary at the Angelus Funeral Home; Saturday, October 25 at 2:00 p.m. Funeral Mass at Our Lady’s Chapel, University of the Incarnate Word Administration Building. Rev John Edward Kelly, UIW BA ‘76. Interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. Pallbearers and honorary pallbearers: Jerry Watson, Mendell D. Morgan Jr, Basil Aivailotis, Bob Connolly, Tony Ciaravino, Ron Spana and Ricardo Chavira.
In lieu of flowers donations are requested for the Halligan-Ibbs Scholarship Endowment at the University of the Incarnate Word.
The stars are more numerous above our heads. Bless her. ~Charles Jeffries, SATCO President
Now Ronnie can stop doing one man shows. She’ll keep him honest. ~William Christopher Champlin
Maureen, I’m so fortunate to have known you and Ronnie. I have so many happy memories. God bless you. ~Joe Libby
She was a great lady and will be missed. ~Stephen Weser
End of an era … She was such a gracious lady. ~Laurie Dietrich
My love and prayers go out to a precious person. You are truly missed and I am deeply sadden. The arts are losing a rare talent. My family grieves and if I can help with anything Please let me know. ~Love, Adam E. Salyer
Maureen and Ronnie taught me so many lessons. Not the least of which was how to honor the art in your life partner. She was (and always will be) an inspiration to me. I will miss her wit and grace most of all. ~Tony Ciaravino
Stanislaus “Stan” Bohenek (April 18, 2008)
It is with sadness that I relay that Stanislaus “Stan” Bohenek passed away suddenly on the morning of 18 April 2008 in Dallas, Texas. Stan made frequent appearances at the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse, Great Productions, Colonies Theater, Harlequin Dinner Theatre, S.A.L.T., San Antonio Fine Arts Center, and others. Stan will be remembered for his ready smile and his quick wit.
~Chris Champlin, Vice President, SATCO
A “Celebration for Stanley” Bohenek was held from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on the evening of Tuesday June 10 on the main stage of the San Pedro Playhouse.
I would just like to say that I was floored to hear about Stan. I worked with him at “Fiesta” and have been trying to reconnect with him since I moved back to SA last year. My life is better having known him. He will be missed, but never forgotten. ~John “Bocchoy” McGowan
Louise Bunten-Champlin passed away Friday the fifth of April two-thousand eight after a brief illness. Louise was a longtime associate of the Harlequin Dinner Theatre on Ft. Sam Houston where she specialized in security and clean up duties. Louise is survived by her best friends Florence Bunten and Chris Champlin and by her many admirers. She will be missed.
I am very sorry for your loss. I remember how she would always come say hello very softly. I will miss seeing her sweet face. ~Diana
I think my favorite is of Louise attending every Christmas open house we had. She was so very gracious! She would immediately sit in a chair and survey the crowd with a kindly and benevolent eye. It was nice to have her there. We will miss her so very much! ~Alexis Lukens
Louise was such a gentle, loving dog. I always looked for her behind the ticket window. Now I will miss her very much.
Flo and Chris, you were the best for Louise. ~Virginia Clingan
So sorry to learn of Louise’s passing. She was one of the gentlest, most gracious souls to be associated with the theatre community. She’ll be missed. ~Alan Godin
Louise was a precious, gentle dog. She will always be with you in spirit and will be waiting for you on the other side. ~John and Tina
I was out of town at a conference when a colleague related a story about losing a long-time pet. I thought of Louise. How sad to come home to this news. Chris and Florence, I am so sorry. I remember her attending a party at our house with you. She was a Great Lady and we will all miss her terribly. I know there is a doggie heaven, though, and she is undoubtedly on a lovely couch, holding court. ~Christine Godin
Glynn Turner (January 24, 1941 – February 12, 2008)
Glynn Turner’s love for theatre was the spark that founded S.T.A.G.E., Inc. A graduate of Trinity University, she was knowledgeable about all aspects of theatre. Her enthusiasm ignited the passion for theatre in others who continued her work to make S.T.A.G.E., Inc. the organization that it is today. At Glynn’s urging, S.T.A.G.E., Inc. became a member of Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc. The information provided by this statewide networking organization has made the difference between success or failure for S.T.A.G.E. Memorial gifts may be made to the S.T.A.G.E., Inc. Endowment Fund or the General Fund. Acknowledgement of all gifts will be sent to the family.
Dan Laurence (March 28, 1920 – February 5, 2008)
A landmark member of our theatre community…and the world, has passed away
How remarkable that a lad born in the Bronx on March 28th, 1920 should one day become one of the world’s most respected scholars and researchers of the life and writings of the famous playwright GB Shaw. Dan Laurence certainly came to his love of theatre naturally enough. Both of his parents were theatre professionals, even at one time including him in their vaudeville act when he was 12. He was a child actor for a number of years and then became stage manager for “Brighton Beach.” He later worked with well-known stage performers such as Ethel Barrymore, Francis Lederer and Jane Cowl. He was the star of “Captain Brass Band’s Conversation”, which gave Dan his first role in a play written by George Bernard Shaw. Others he worked with were Florence Reed, Estelle Winwood, Buster Keaton, Canada Lee.
The next phase of his life, which lasted 41 months, was in the USAAF; 36 of those months took him out of the US, serving as a writer and performer for Armed Services Radio. His first assignment was in Australia where he met and fell in love with Fran. For several years thereafter he was assigned to a number of bases in the Pacific Islands and continued to serve as a writer and performer for the Armed Services Radio. He was shipped back to the US when the war ended, preventing him from returning to marry his sweetheart. His father promised him money to return to Australia if he would first finish the one semester, he needed to graduate with a degree in English from Hoffstra University. With that accomplished, he returned to wed his love. She continued to live with her parents while they both worked to save money, so that they could set up a place of their own. The premature birth of their child occurred and both mother and child died before he could reach them.
Then NYU became his focus, as he worked on his Master’s degree serving as a graduate assistant, and later an associate professor of English. Other universities he taught included Indiana University, U of Texas, Penn State, Andrew Mellon, Dartmouth, and Tulane, and in Canada, Guelph and UBC. His passion for the writings of Shaw, through many years of study, became so well known that he was appointed literary and dramatic advisor for the estate of G B Shaw, a position he held from 1973-1990. His association with the Shaw Festival Ontario began in 1982 as literary advisor and member of the acting ensemble. He served as associate director from 1987-2000. He was elected president of the International Shaw Society in 2004, which held a special tribute to him that same year.
Throughout his academic life he wrote prodigiously, and the works were of true merit. Most acclaimed are his bibliographies of the works of Shaw, and Henry James, four volumes of “Collected Letters of Bernard Shaw”, 7 volumes of “Bernard Shaw’s Collected Plays with their Prefaces”.
Admiration for Maureen Halligan and Ronnie Ibbs, who headed the drama department at Incarnate Word College, drew him to San Antonio. He was a co-founder of OffStage, Inc. and appeared in productions with them and other theatres. His final performance was a play he wrote “G B S in Love”.
He died this morning Feb. 5th, at The Village at Incarnate Word Retirement Center .
The family would like any donations in Dan’s memory to go to the Humane Society SPCA at 4804 Fredericksburg Rd. 78229 or San Antonio Public Library at 600 Soledad 78205 or the charity of the giver’s choice.
A memorial will be planned for a later time.
New York Times Article
Dan H. Laurence, 87, Bibliographer and George Bernard Shaw Scholar, Is Dead
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: February 10, 2008
Dan H. Laurence, a noted scholar, editor and bibliographer who devoted nearly every waking moment of his professional life to compiling the voluminous works of George Bernard Shaw, died on Tuesday at his home in San Antonio. He was 87.
Mr. Laurence died of natural causes, his niece, Jo Fielder, said.
For many years the official literary adviser to Shaw’s estate, Mr. Laurence was considered one of this country’s leading authorities on Shaw (1856-1950), the distinguished Irish playwright, critic, wit, dyspeptic, professional scold, Nobel laureate and holder of oddly variegated enthusiasms. (Among them: creating a new alphabet; wearing only woolen clothing; and, to varying degrees, Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.)
A former New York University faculty member, Mr. Laurence devoted half a century to hunting down, amassing, editing and annotating millions upon millions of Shaw’s words. In 1970, he left his tenured professorship in the N.Y.U. English department and moved to Texas so he could be near a major Shaw archive at the University of Texas, Austin. Shaw has that effect on people.
Mr. Laurence was known in particular for his massive edition of Shaw’s correspondence, published in four volumes from 1965 to 1988. Volumes 1 and 2 were published by Dodd, Mead; Volumes 3 and 4 by Viking.
The four volumes comprised 2,500 letters, whose recipients ranged from Paul Robeson to attractive young actresses (there were many) to amateur theater groups. For example, the Akron Little Theater, about to stage one of Shaw’s plays, wired him this bizarre query about the text: “Akron Ohio police refuse to consider knocking out two teeth sufficient justification for jailing.” Shaw wired back, “Ascertain how many teeth will suffice and alter text accordingly.”
Among Mr. Laurence’s other books are “Bernard Shaw: A Bibliography” (Oxford University, 1983), a two-volume work that is widely considered definitive; “Shaw’s Music: The Complete Musical Criticism in Three Volumes” (Dodd, Mead, 1981); and “Collected Plays With Their Prefaces” (Dodd, Mead, 1975), which in seven volumes collects famous works like “Pygmalion” and “Major Barbara” with lesser-known entries like “Fanny’s First Play,” the source of the criminal dental scene.
Mr. Laurence also assembled several volumes of Shaw’s previously unpublished writings, a task that amounted to scouring the world for buried treasure. Much of Shaw’s early work was unsigned, or published under pseudonyms like Shendar Brwa (rearrange the letters), William Watkins Smith and the Rev. C. W. Stiggins Jr. of Box Hill.
These volumes include “How to Become a Musical Critic” (1961), “Platform and Pulpit” (1961) and “The Matter with Ireland” (1962, compiled with David H. Greene), all published by Hill & Wang. Mr. Laurence’s non-Shaw books include “A Bibliography of Henry James” (R. Hart-Davis, 1957), done in collaboration with Leon Edel.
The one book Mr. Laurence was not able to write was a Shaw biography, a fact that by all accounts stung him deeply. In the late 1960s, the Society of Authors, a British organization, commissioned Michael Holroyd to write a new authorized life of Shaw. Mr. Holroyd is a noted English biographer but not an academic.
As was widely reported afterward, the selection of Mr. Holroyd awakened in Mr. Laurence a certain natural combustibility. In 1976 he resigned for a time both as the editor of Shaw’s letters and as the literary adviser to the estate, a post he had held since 1973. (Mr. Laurence was later reinstated, serving until his retirement in 1990.)
At the height of the fracas, Mr. Laurence publicly called Mr. Holroyd “a horse’s rear end,” “a spiv” and “an incorrigible fool,” as The New Statesman reported in 2002. It was all very un-Shavian, or perhaps not. (“Spiv,” n., slang, chiefly British: Someone who lives by his wits without being gainfully employed; a wheeler-dealer.)
“He was more gifted in vituperation and anger than he was in generosity,” Mr. Holroyd said of Mr. Laurence in a telephone interview on Friday. “But even in anger, there was someone inside trying to get out. And a number of people, when he left the room — even if he’d been angry in that room — they would feel a strange sympathy for him, as if they were feeling for a better self locked inside him that he couldn’t release very easily.”
Mr. Holroyd’s detailed account of the fracas can be found in his essay collection “Works on Paper” (Counterpoint, 2002). His biography, “Bernard Shaw,” was published in four volumes by Random House starting in 1988.
Daniel Hyman Goldstein was born in the Bronx on March 28, 1920. (In 1946, his niece said, he changed his surname for professional reasons; the fact that it made him D. H. Laurence was a fringe benefit.) He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in 1946 and a master’s from N.Y.U. in 1950.
In World War II Mr. Laurence served with the Army Air Forces in New Guinea, the Philippines and Australia. He taught English at Hofstra before joining the N.Y.U. faculty in 1962.
During the war Mr. Laurence met and married a woman in Australia; she died soon after. Mr. Laurence never spoke of his wife until a few years ago. Only then did his family learn that he had ever been married, his niece, Ms. Fielder, said.
Mr. Laurence leaves no immediate survivors.
In the interview on Friday, Mr. Holroyd praised the commanding depth of Mr. Laurence’s scholarship.
“What I must say is — and I’m not just saying this because he’s dead — he was a pre-eminent bibliographer and a superlative editor of Shaw’s letters,” he said.
“I always felt that if I had said to him, ‘Dan, what was Shaw doing on the 30th of January, 1932?’ he would have said, ‘You mean in the morning or the afternoon?’ And then he would have told me.”
Memorial Celebration: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 from 7-9 pm at the Assembly Room at Incarnate Word Retirement Facilities at 4707 Broadway next to HEB Central market. Trey Cunningham will be doing a video about Dan and it is possible we will have some live performance. For sure, we will also have time for informal reminiscences.
It is with great sadness and profound respect for Dan Laurence that I remember him today. He was truly a gentleman of theatre filled with a passionate vitality for scholarship in literature and theatre. I worked with him on two occasions, namely in ReJoyce, a production of his creation with Maureen Halligan celebrating the genius and craftsmanship of James Joyce and when he was kind enough to lecture on George Bernard Shaw after our performance of Dear Liar at St. Mary’s University. This was a production in which Ian McCord and I acted in Jerome Kilty’s play of the relationship between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. As Literary Editor of the Shaw Estate, Dan graciously fielded questions from the audience and contributed much to the academic dialogue of that evening.
One could obviously note the realm of Dan’s intellect and yet he possessed an endearing sense of humility. As I was the stage manager, he always asked me to critique his stage performance. “Am I too loud, Bodie?”. He knew well enough his exuberance could be overpowering. I always assured him that he was just fine. The audience would welcome such personal care and commitment to his performance. One night’s performance of ReJoyce brought him to the aid of his fellow actor, she had a bit of “dizzy spell” onstage and Dan immediately rescued her by guiding he gently back into the performance. These two had tremendous love and respect for each other as artists and friends.
The San Antonio community has lost an astounding figure…one whose pursuit of poetic knowledge will always remain with those he touched. May God rest and embrace Dan with His everlasting peace.
~Assoc. Prof. Bernadette Hamilton-Brady
I wonder if San Antonio knows how lucky and blessed we were to have Dan Laurence with us to share his intellect and talent for so many years.
I think UT would have given up at least one of their horns to have had him at the Ransom Center as a resident scholar.
But he loved San Antonio.
Dan never had an earned PhD and turned down all offers for honorary degrees. For him it was philosophical; he did not think it was right to accept a degree you did not earn.
Indeed. Dan was more humble than the late Chaucer scholar George Lyman Kitteridge who also never earned a doctorate. When asked why he never went for the doctorate his answer was to the point: “And who would ask me questions?”
Dan’s last words to the late Ronnie Ibbs were “It has been a good run, Ronnie.”
Ditto, Dan. Ditto.
It was a life well spent in the service of Thespis!
I would like to add to Dick’s eulogy by describing Dan’s interest on entertaining (rather educating!) his fellow residents at the Incarnate Word Retirement Center.
I believe he had initiated some kind of a literary club, because he would come to the library to retrieve specific poems to recite or share with members in his Retirement Literary Circle. It was an honor to get to know Dan as a literary researcher. Mendell Morgan and I held him in high esteem and assisted with his research questions. Even though weak, he would make a serious effort to walk the distance from the Retirement Center to the Library to do research. I remember how lucid his mind was: He would very readily recall titles of poems and first lines. He knew exactly what he was looking for, even where the poems were published! A brilliant and committed researcher to the very end!
~Basil A. Aivaliotis
I had the honor of meeting Mr. Laurence. He had a wonderful sense of humor. I loved hearing him read, he had a wonderful voice. He is certainly with our Lord now, entertaining the angels with his laughter and joie de vive.
~Sidney Ann Spencer
Dan Laurence loved the theater. He loved the plays and players. He loved to act. He was eager to mentor young artists and reminisce with older ones.
His performance as a conservative judge in my production of THE TRIAL OF THE CATONSVILLE NINE contributed substantially to the success of the production and was the beginning of our long friendship.
When I directed HEARTBREAK HOUSE he gave me a reading list and photocopies of Shaw’s postcards to the original cast. When he called my staging of act three “sensitive” I felt I had arrived.
Through Dan’s influence I was allowed to be an assistant director at the Shaw Festival although the artistic director was very reluctant to give an American an opportunity in a festival subsidized by the Canadian government.
Throughout the ups and downs of my career, Dan was always available with a helpful suggestion, an encouraging word, or a perceptive criticism. I am only one of the many artists who have benefited from Dan’s generosity.
Dan’s mind was a theatrical encyclopedia. His meticulous scholarship graces Shaw’s collected plays, collected letters, and collected music criticism. As the Literary Editor of the Shaw Estate, he was fiercely protective of the texts. Like Shaw, Dan believed the theater could change the world. He spent his life dedicated to that noble proposition.
Professor of Theater
University of the Arts
Memories are strong and thanks to Dan and Judy Jay of OffStage for opportunities in the theatre
I worked with Dan on the Extended Run production of GBS In Love… one summer, for Practicum. I still have a copy of the script…which I tried to retype (It had some typos) but Mr. Laurence would not let me…he was fun to work with … despite his habitual grumpiness. It was an honor to know him.
Ernie Baumann (January 28, 2008)
It is my unhappy responsibility to inform our SATCO membership that Ernie Baumann passed away peacefully last night (January 28, 2008). Many will remember Ernie for his wonderful sense of humor, deep voice and hardy laugh which he brought into everything that he was involved in. He was selected for our prestigious level of involvement – The Living Legend in 2003. He will always be that to those who knew him — A Legend. Arrangements are pending, we will let you know as soon as we have more information. We will miss you Ernie! ~Charles Jeffries SATCO President
Published in the Express-News on 2/3/2008.
Ernest G. Baumann, Major USAF(Retired) (a.k.a. Dirty Ernie) died January 29, 2008. His ambition was to live to be 100, but he did not make it. In Ernies’ own words, “I was born in Buffalo, New York on November 3, 1920, to Ernest D. Baumann and Susan K. Baumann. For The good of mankind, I was an only child. I graduated from the U.S. Army Air Corps flight school as a Second Lt. in March 1944. Flew 35 missions over Europe in WWII as an aircraft commander of a B-17 with the 8th Air Force.” He retired from the Air Force in 1964 as a commander pilot with over 6000 hours in the air. He was proud of the fact that he started flying in Piper Cubs and progressed to flying jet bombers. After retirement, he was very active in the local theatrical community. In 2003 he received the prestigious Living Legend Of Theater award from Theater Arts Coalition Of San Antonio. He performed at all of the major area theaters. His roles extended from Old McDonald in children’s theatre, the Pope in “The Day They Kidnapped The Pope”, to starring as the Lone Ranger in dozens of Old Time Radio Productions. He performed with Death by Design Murder Mystery Troupe, The Extended Run Players, and was a featured soloist with The Cadenza Singers for the University of the Incarnate Word. He appeared as the singing bus driver in the 1980’s Via commercials. He co-hosted the “Adopt a Pet” segment on the KENS TV Morning Show for over 20 years. In his final stage appearance, he was a featured performer in the University of the Incarnate Word 2007 production: “Memories on Review: Tales of WWII” sharing his wartime experiences. Following this, he was selected to appear in the KLRN film production “World War II: In Our Words,” which aired locally in August 2007. He was President of the Board of Speech Arts Association of San Antonio, and past President of the Auxiliary at Warm Springs Hospital where he did volunteer work for many years. He was preceded in death by his eldest son, Robert E. Baumann who died in 1991. He is survived by his loving wife of over 63 years, Lois (Chips) P. Baumann, his step-mother, Inez Baumann of Buffalo, New York, his brother-in-law, Robert Schroeder and wife Betty Schroeder of Buffalo, New York, sons, James R. (Mie) Baumann and John E. Baumann of Austin, Texas, grandchildren, Heather C. Baumann and Nathan C. (Susan) Baumann of Austin, Texas, great grandchildren, Christian Robert Baumann, Lux Louise Baumann and Nicole Baumann of Austin, Texas as well as a multitude of friends.
Friends are invited to join in a joyous celebration of his life at Harlequin Dinner Theater at Fort Sam Houston on Monday, February 4, 2008 from 2 pm till 5 pm.
Sunset Funeral Home.
A Memorial will be held for Ernie at the Harlequin Dinner Theatre on Monday, February 4, at 2:00pm. In keeping with his wishes, this will be something akin to an Irish wake where he will be remembered with laughter and dirty jokes, where everyone toasts the departed and tells wonderful stories about him. Bruce Shirky at Harlequin Dinner Theatre will be coordinating the memorial. If you have stories and/or pictures to share, could you please forward to him? (please contact email@example.com if you do not have his contact information, I will forward information to him.) The Memorial will be a Pot Luck affair. Thank you.
Ernie was one of the first actors I met here in 1975 when I took this job at Harlequin. We miss him. ~Florence Bunten
I did my first play with him at the Harlequin. I was Nurse Preen to his Mr. Whiteside. He was wonderful to me. I will very much miss him and will always remember his laugh. ~Kathleen Lovejoy
Ernie, I salute you for all the great characters you brought to the San Antonio stages. And I salute you and want to say “thank you” for your service to our country, for stepping up as a young man to face the perils of a World War, and for you and your generation who literally saved the world for us some 65 years ago. If it wasn’t for you and others like you, we would not be living in a free society and practicing our art the way we can today. I know God has opened up his gates widely for you and that all of the San Antonio theatre greats who have past on are welcoming you. There will be one great cast party in heaven tonight! I truly thank you and salute you Ernie, ~Steven Stoli
Being on stage with Ernie (& Alice Finney) in “A Curious Savage” in 1997 gave me a wealth of memories that still make me smile! Ernie’s distinctive deep voice, his glorious laugh, his spot-on characterization of a respected, slightly befuddled doctor gave such warmth to the production. He will live on in my heart, & I’m sure in numerous other members of the San Antonio theatre family. He will be missed; he will not be forgotten. ~Ayn Phillips
You were a charming Dad! ~Suellen
Thanks for all your years of devotion to your country, your family, your friends and to Theatre. Your joyous nature will be missed. ~Bobbie Laughter
I was lucky enough to meet Ernie as my “Sherry” in my first show at the Harlequin, “The Man Who Came to Dinner”. And I was lucky, honored, and blessed to have known him as a fellow actor and incredible friend ever since. His sense of humor, sense of respect, and sense of being for himself and those around him was wonderfully infectious. Miss you Ernie. ~Sherri Small Truitt
I had the pleasure of working with Ernie in an improv murder mystery group called Death by Design. When I first met him, I wondered how a man in his eighties could do this type of audience interactive improvisation. I learned during the first show to keep an eye out for Ernie…he had lightening quick reflexes and an incredible sense of comic timing. He blew me away and taught me more than a few things about improv. I was honored to have known him. May God bless his family in this sad time. ~Renee Garvens
Chips and Ernie and I have been friends since the earth cooled down………..they have become my family. Playing Mrs. MacDonald to Ernie’s Old MacDonald was an adventure in itself; having him sing with Cadenza Singers was a never ending, delightful surprise. I’ve taught music for many years and directed many choirs, but he’s the first singer I ever had who sang in the key of LOUD. He’d do any song that was handed to him…….”I’m GittinNuttinFerChristmas,” to “Would You Rather be a Colonel With An Eagle On Your Shoulder Or a Private With a Chicken On Your Knee?” His voice boomed out to the delight of hundreds of listeners. With all the roles he played, the most perfect was that of the Lone Ranger in the radio shows. This was absolute type casting…….for if there ever was a Lone Ranger, he must have been just like Ernie Baumann. He will always be a light in our dark world, and he will always be with us…….he loved us and we loved him…….and love never dies. ~BJ
I first met Ernie in ‘The Day They Kidnapped The Pope’ and Ernie was the Pope. A wonderfully talented and gregarious person who brought an entirely new perspective to that role. His one minute nap during one portion of the show, one nite, was typical of how relaxed he was on stage. He never missed a beat when he awoke. His warm smile and quick wit made him a pleasure to be around. I don’t believe he ever met a person that he didn’t like. I will miss him. ~Frank Williams
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Ernie. I remember my first thought of Ernie was “Who is the crazy man”. He was big, I do not mean of size, I mean of his spirit and his presence. He would consume any space that he occupied. It was like his spirit could not be contained within his body. Every night while doing Arsenic and Old Lace I would look forward to the blare of a trumpet and Teddies charge. My ears still ring with it this 30 something years later. Many have played that part throughout the years but I doubt any had the fire and energy of Ernie. Looking back at that time in my life I was so young and I am now Ernie’s age. Somehow, I never considered what his age was, he was just one of the wonderful group of my dear friends. I am sorry to have heard of the passing but I’m sure Ernie, wherever he is, is charging thru the after life with as much enthusiasm as he charged thru life. ~Rick Harrison
A sad day for the San Antonio Theatre community. Ernie was such a sweet and funny man. He was always there with a good hearty laugh and probably some of the ‘dirtiest” jokes I have ever heard. Thank you for support, and the memories Ernie; and behave yourself in that great theatre in the sky! You will be missed. ~Jerry Pilato
Ernie and Chips lived across the street from me when I lived on Brook Hollow. And every time Ernie would see me in my yard, he would always yell some rowdy greeting and wave. One morning very early, I was out chasing “Bubba”, a stray dog I had found near my mother’s house. Fortunately, Bubba was not very fast, so I caught up to him easily. But as I bent over to grab his collar, the seat of my seersucker pajamas ripped right out. So there I was “mooning” all of the traffic on Brook Hollow. Ernie was one of many who got “mooned” that morning. He simply broke out into a loud rendition of “BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON” and crossed the street to save “the damsel in distress” and help capture the dog, laughing loudly all the way. That’s just the kind of man he was…laughing and joking and singing songs at the top of his lungs. I never saw Ernie that he didn’t have a smile on his face or a great twinkle in his eye!!! He was “a darlin’ dear”, a great loving bear of a man, whose laughing and singing and showmanship I will sorely miss. He would so love that we are doing a proper “Irish Wake” to celebrate his life and good times. Looking forward to seeing lots of theatre folks there. ~Amy LaPresto
Whether it was his “Harumph!” or his “Scrabble Clause” or the twinkle in his eyes or the way he jumped into everything with both feet doesn’t really matter. What truly mattered with Ernie was (and is) his soul and how much he enjoyed life. I first met Ernie in 1989 at SALT and remained impressed with how much of a wonderful person he was. He had arms big enough for everyone, whether in a two-person or huge cast. Ernie became an integral part of my company, Death by Design, and for 16 years kept us in stitches both in rehearsal and in performance. He also set a very high bar for everyone else to try and attain. Ernie might be gone, but he’ll be with me in my heart forever. ~David Jackson
Many memories…..Chips I hope you got our message from Mexico…I know the celebration will be moving…I repeat Ernie will direct and not have to learn lines…his ad libs were always the best….Always ~Joyce and Bill Lambrecht
My first recollection of Ernie was being in a production of “The Three Cuckolds” with him at the old Fort Sam Playhouse. He played the Devil and was a mighty presence to behold emerging from a trapdoor! After that he really worked his way up, so to speak, to give many wonderful performances. RIP Ernie. ~John Eubanks
I met Ernie when I was 13 years old. I knew him as “Dirty Ernie” and I thought he was cool because he was on TV. Back then he was a regular on the news for adopt a pet. I never missed a show. It wasn’t until I was much older that I solidified a real relationship with Ernie. He wasn’t really a dirty old man as he liked to be perceived as. I liken Ernie to George Burns. Recently I was reading Wisdom of the Nineties by Mr. Burns and I made the connection between Ernie Baumann and George Burns. In George Burns’ book he speaks about Gracie and how his persona with women and dirty jokes was just his MO, he was totally devoted to Gracie who was truly the only woman for him. When I got to know Chips I knew immediately that she was Ernie’s Gracie. His “Dirty Ernie persona” was just that — a persona. It was just an act, just for fun. I had a new found respect for Ernie through his relationship with Chips. Then he presented me with a business card with the title of “noted authority” and I thought what could this guy possibly be an authority on???? As it turns out, quite a lot. Ernie gave me a historical frame of reference that I couldn’t have paid for in any school. From his personal experiences I learned about life during the depression, I had first had knowledge of the war from a soldier’s point of view. Ernie was a patriot, a humanitarian, a teacher and an artist. He was also a lot of fun to be around. I will forever treasure the life lessons Ernie gave me. I cannot remember a time in the San Antonio Theatre Community without Ernie Bauman. I have a 20 year history with Ernie but I will treasure my memories with Ernie for my entire life. There is a hole in my soul which can never be replaced. When I think of Ernie, I will always smile and then smirk. God bless Ernie and please take care of my good friend who deserves a special seat in heaven. Sincerely, ~Shelly Chance
Ernie, Ernie, Ernie … Where do I begin? I have shared the boards with Ernie many times and each was pleasure. I have heard so many stories and relived his life so many times … at my prompting … and each time walked away with knowledge only someone who was there could have given. I learned about the war, the depression and the deep devotion a man could have for a woman. I have been in dressing rooms where everyone was complaining about his significant other … except Ernie. I remember thinking how wonderful it must be to truly love his wife. Chips was his strength, his passion and his reason for living. How happy his life must have been. When Allan and Teri Ross were kind enough to throw Shelly and me an engagement party, he gave us a toast wherein he wished us the happiness he had shared with Chips for 60 years. I hope that comes true. Then there were his sons whom he thought the world of. He spoke of them often. Add them to Chips and he was a happy man who lead a happy life. There was one show we did when he told me he considered me a son as well. I have had no greater honor. My fondest memory of working with Ernie was when we were doing Finnian’s Rainbow. Ernie was playing Senator Billboard Rawkins. He was costumed like Colonel Saunders. So naturally, on closing night, he descended the flowing staircase carrying two buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I loved him from that moment on. Our last show together was Defying Gravity. When we weren’t messing with each other on stage we certainly were off stage. It was nothing but fun. Oh Ernie, I’ll miss you so much. You were my tutor, my confidant and my friend. Good bye, noted authority. God bless you forever. ~Donnie Neubauer
The first time I met Ernie I had gone backstage at the Harlequin to see some friends in their show. When I walked in Ernie was delivering the punchline to a joke that left everyone in stitches. Now, deprived of Ernie’s talent and wit, I wish I had walked in a little earlier and shared one more of his jokes. We will miss you Ernie. ~Paul Lydston, Jr.
To my dear darlin’ Dirty Ernie,
One of the very 1st shows I did in San Antonio was lo these many years. You were Teddy, I was Aunt Martha, and Alice Finney was Aunt Abby in the Harlequin Dinner Theatre production of “Arsenic & Old Lace”. Along with Chris Champlin, Harry Huff, Rick Harrison, and several other fortunate ones, we shared with you what theatre is all about. I will cherish that memory as well as the more recent appearance on stage with you in “Twigs”. I thank you for being the “one who got it” when we wrote in our 20th wedding anniversary 12 years ago: “dress appropriately”—you showed up in that tuxedo, red cummerbund & red bowtie, with no shirt—what a hoot! I will rejoice in the laughter, joy, and magic moments of your presence; and that will help me not to miss you so much. Bruce & I send our love, prayers, & best thoughts to Chips & your family. ~Love, Sherrie Shirky
I had the pleasure of meeting Ernie through the Extended Run Players. Ernie was a unique personality with a wonderful laugh and sense of humor. I am so glad to have known him and to have played “Silver” to his Lone Ranger. My prayers are with the Baumann family. ~Jillian Villejo
It is with great sorrow that I announce that Ron Bretz has passed away. Ron was a musical director for several shows at San Antonio Fine Arts Center and at the San Pedro Playhouse. He was a extremely kind and giving person who helped many performers all over the state of Texas.
His wake was Tuesday at 1pm at: All Saints Anglican Church, 11122 Link Dr., San Antonio, Texas
~Charles Jeffries, SATCO President
Ronald Paul Bretz, 72, of San Antonio, Texas died on January 16, 2008. He was born in Harlingen, Texas to L. Paul and Lucy Bretz on January 25, 1935 and grew up in Brownsville. A graduate of Trinity University and North Texas State University, he was a lifelong music educator in Duncanville, Texas and throughout the San Antonio area. He also lent his musical talents to many local church choirs and theatrical productions. He was an active member of All Saints Anglican Church. He is survived by his wife Gayle, his sons Theron, Laird, and Reagan, and five grandchildren, Sarah, Max, Clark, Cleo, and Gordon. He will be greatly missed by his family. A memorial service is pending, contact the family for later date and time.
To leave a note for the family, go to www.meadowlawn.net and select Obituaries.
Arrangements by: Meadowlawn & American Mortuary.
Published in the Express-News on 1/20/2008
Terence James “Terry” Loughrey, age 63, of Austin, danced into heaven on July 13, 2007. Born in Linden, NJ, July 28, 1943, his loving guidance and gentle wit influenced many. His joyful life included a NJ state track record while at St. Benedict’s Prep School in Newark, BA in English Lit. Upsala College, NJ, and serving as Army News Director for Special Forces Vietnam Network. Terence was a poet, writer, public speaker, an actor: including at Austin’s Zachary Scott Theater and the San Antonio Reparatory Theater, KLRU’s ”Art Beat”, and director of Austin Circle of Theaters. With Austin PARD, he helped establish the O. Henry Pun-Off, Shakespeare in the Park, the Dougherty Arts Center, and managed the Zilker Hillside Theater. He met lifelong goals as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor with the Addiction Response Institute, Westlake, as a Benedictine Oblate at St. Scholastica Monastery, Boerne, and as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was most proud of his relationship with his amazing daughters. He is survived by daughters Brennan and Marianna Loughrey and their mother Kate Loughrey, Austin; daughter Hilary Tipps, Los Angeles; sister Barbara Shannon, BelAir, MD; and life partner Jeanne Henry, Austin. He is preceded in death by parents James and Dorothy Loughrey, BelAir, MD; and sister Karen Wilson, Edinburgh, Texas. Celebration of his life will occur on his 64th birthday, Saturday, July 28, 2007, at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 4800 Convict Hill Rd, Austin, TX 78749. Memorial Service at 12:00 p.m., and Funeral Mass at 7:00 p.m., with Monsignor Oliver Johnson officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials for the college education of daughters Marianna and Brennan. Please send to: Loughrey Family, 7631 Hwy. 290, #925, Austin TX 78736. Terry is in heaven, dancing with the Deity, while reminding us to “Be at peace.”
Published in Austin American-Statesman on July 22, 2007
Bob Jolly (December 3, 1936 – February 10, 2007)
I am sorry to inform you that another of our theatre family has died. Bob Jolly a long-time actor and writer passed away this week. He was a perennial favorite on many stages and a strong force in the early development and success of such theatres as Billboard Theatre and First Repertory Theatre. He has also appeared on most of the theatre stages in the city. He will be most recently remembered as the writer and Master of Ceremonies for Cornyation one of the most unique events of Fiesta. Bob’s talent will be missed by theatre audiences and his many friends. His friends will also miss his great Christmas parties, his needlepoint, and his wacky sense of humor. We will send more information when it becomes available.
~Allan S. Ross, President – SATCO
Robert Cothem Jolly (December 3, 1936 – February 10, 2007)
Robert Cothem Jolly went to be with the Lord February 10, 2007 at the age of 70. Robert graduated from St. Mary’s University. He retired from teaching math at St. Philips College after many years of dedicated service. He enjoyed acting in various dinner theaters and in the San Antonio Little Theater. He wrote the notations for Cornyval during Fiesta. He was very active in many KLRN Fund Raisers. He loved to communicate with everyone via e-mail. He is preceded in death by his parents Robert and Eleanor Jolly. He is survived by his brother Carl and Rosemary Jolly; nephew Robert Carl Jolly; niece Sherri Renee Grant; numerous great-nieces and nephews. Services Visitation will be Wednesday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the funeral Home. Funeral services will be Thursday, February 15, 2007 at 3:00 pm at Mission Park Funeral Chapels South. Interment to follow at Mission Burial Park South. For personal acknowledgment you may sign the guest book at www.missionparks.com. Arrangements with: Mission Park Funeral Chapels South.
Don Breitbach (September 19, 1925 – January 25, 2007)
I am very sad to report that our dear Don passed away January 25, 2007 in his home with family by his side. Funeral Services were held on Monday, January 29, 12 Noon at Mission Park Funeral Chapels North, 3401 Cherry Ridge, 349-1414. Interment followed at Mission Park North Cemetery, of IH-10 and Camp Bullis.
Donald C. Breitbach, born in Balltown, Iowa, a town he loved, on September 19, 1925, went to be with his Lord and Heavenly Family, mother, Susan Pasbach Breitbach, brother, Robert J. Breitbach, and father, Ray C. Breitbach on January 25, 2007. He leaves behind his beloved and greatly loved wife, Corinne Delavan Breitbach. He also leaves daughters, Teri LaBove (Eugene), Shelley Belden (Charles); son, John Rogers and grand and great grandchildren. Don was proud of his service to his country, the Navy during WWII and 28 years with the Air Force. He always said “I don’t wear a uniform, but I wear Air Force Blue”. He managed major world-wide and classified programs. He was awarded the Air Force medal for Meritorious Civilian Service and a Distinguished Presidential Unit Medal. His outside activities involved the theatre, athletics, aviation, Corinne and an occasional poem. He was proud to be a member of the Dubuque High School Class of 1942 whom he said were depression and WWII kids “who didn’t know they couldn’t do it but did it”. The family requests in lieu of flowers, please send a donation to Holy Ghost School, Dubuque, Iowa 52001.
Funeral service to begin at 12:00 Noon, Monday, January 29, 2007 at Mission Park Funeral Chapels North. Interment will follow at Mission Burial Park North with Military Honors. A reception will follow at University United Methodist Church, 5084 DeZavala, 78249. A memorial service will be held at Holy Ghost Church, Dubuque, Iowa at a later date.
David Villarreal (September 19, 1974 – December 28, 2006)
David Villarreal died today (December 28, 2006) following an illness. He appeared in several San Pedro Playhouse productions including ONCE UPON A MATTRESS in which he appeared as Sir Studley and the spirit of the Jester’s father. He was unable to appear the final weekend due to illness. He also played the Captain and the Principal in CAROUSEL and was an Aggie, Angelette and Cameraman in THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS. He performed various roles in GYPSY. David sang with Dallas’ Turtle Creek Chorale and the Alamo City Men’s Chorale. He was also a company dancer for the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet and the Denton Civic Ballet. While studying theater and music at the University of North Texas, he performed in Denton Community Theater’s production of GYPSY as Tulsa, ANNIE as Rooster and appeared in a number of other shows.
~Di Ann Sneed, San Pedro Playhouse
Final services for David Villarreal will take place Saturday, December 30, 2006 at Ortiz Mortuary, 3114 Culebra Road (across from Holy Rosary High School and St. Mary’s University). Viewing will be from 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. The service will be from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The Alamo City Men’s Chorale will sing. Friends will be invited to share memories of David. The family has stated that in lieu of flowers contributions may be made to a memorial fund in David’s name at Security Service Federal Credit Union, P. O. Box 691510, San Antonio, TX 78269-1510. In accordance with David’s request, proceeds of the fund will be donated to the Alamo City Men’s Chorale and San Pedro Playhouse.
David Villarreal, born September 19, 1974, was called Home by our Lord Jesus on December 28, 2006. He was a kind soul who saw the would thru love filled eyes. He was a performance artist at the San Pedro Playhouse and filled the world with song with the Alamo City Men’s Chorale Choir. He graduated from Holmes High School and attended North Texas State in Denton, Texas. His most joyous activity was spending quality “Tio” time with his nieces and nephew, Alexus, Mercedes, and Layla Salazar, and Jakob Villarreal. He is survived by his mother, Ana Laura Resendez, and his father, Carlos Villarreal Jr. and wife Esther, and his paternal grandmother, Mary J. Villarreal: sister, Monica Salazar and husband Mark, brother, Daniel Villarreal and wife Jennifer. Numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. He has left a huge void in our lives and will be missed by his large family and countless friends and coworkers. We are sure he is singing and dancing for our Father in heaven now and rejoicing at seeing his Guelo and Guela, Grandpa Carlos Sr. and step-dad, Bobby again. Thank you, Jesus for the wonderful gift of David. WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU OR STOP LOVING YOU. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 7:00 pm at the Ortiz Mortuary Chapel, 3114 Culebra Rd. San Antonio, TX. No Flowers Please. Donations may be made to the Security Service Federal Credit Union Memorial Fund for David Villarreal. Arrangements with Ortiz Mortuary.
from Express News, 12/30/2006
Dale Novak (October 31, 1958 – December 6, 2006)
We are very sad to report the loss of another performer with ties to San Antonio. Dale Novak performed with the Improvarama and Playroom Players here in the 70’s and 80’s.
Dale Edgar Novak was born on October 31, 1958 at Perrin Air Force Base, Denison, Texas to Marvin and Bertha Novak and left this world on December 6, 2006 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Dale graduated from John Jay High School, San Antonio, TX in 1977. That same year he entered the US Army, serving six years as a Tactical Transportation Helicopter Repairer. He served with the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. While Assigned he earned the Driver’s Badge and Air Assault Badge. In 2001 he joined the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1107th Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD), Springfield, MO. He served on Task Force Noble Escort from September through November 2002. He was deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Enduring Freedom from January through December 2004. He was commended for his dedication, technical competence, work ethic and attention to safety. Staff Sgt. Dale Novak received numerous awards during his military career, including several Army Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Dale never met a stranger. He was kind, compassionate, and had a zest for life. He was selfless with his time and energies. The Soldiers that worked side by side with him described him as being the one person that could always be counted on. He gave his best. He continued to better himself, always eager to learn. He was thorough and always did the right thing. He was witty, continuously possessing a smile and positive attitude. Dale was a son, brother, husband, father and friend. He will be greatly missed by all. He is survived by his wife, Jo Novak, of Everton; sons, Anthony and James of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas; a stepson, Sam Stella, of Clever; a stepdaughter, Katie and Judd Zembsch of Stafford; a step-grandson, Garret; his parents, Marvin Novak and Bertha McCarthy, both of San Antonio Texas; his brother, Dean Novak and wife Ruth of Republic; three sisters: Charlotte Plaia and husband John of Big Springs, Texas, JaLinda Borumand husband Steve of San Antonio, Texas, and LaCinda Lee and husband Allen of San Antonio, Texas. A funeral service will be at 12:00 noon Friday December 15, 2006 at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church 460 W. Aldersgate, Nixa, Missouri. Burial with Military Honors will be at 2:00 p.m. Friday in the Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri. Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Thursday in Adams Funeral Home 109 N. Truman Blvd. Nixa, Missouri. Memorial donations requested to American Cancer Society or donor’s choice.
Micah J B Eckman (July 1, 1976 – December 5, 2006)
Once again, our San Antonio theatre family has suffered a great loss. Micah Eckman, one of the most talented actors of our community, very recently passed away. There will be a private ceremony for the family, and there will be a memorial service for Micah at The Church Theatre in January. He will be missed by us all, but possibly most by the hundreds of young people he taught and directed. We had hoped to have his talent, wit and charm with us for a long time. We are saddened by the thought that it will not be so.
~Allan S. Ross, SATCO President
Memorial service was held Sunday, December 10th at 1:15 pm., St. Francis Episcopal Church, 4242 Bluemel Rd (Near I-10 and Wurzbach), San Antonio, TX 78240
Award-winning Eckman, 30, got early start in drama
Drama was an all-consuming passion for Micah J B Eckman, the San Antonio Jewish Community Center’s cultural affairs director for the past two years.
Eckman, 30, died in his sleep Sunday morning.
Born in Houston, Eckman moved to San Antonio with his family at age 4, said his mother, Trina Major. He attended Alamo Heights public schools, graduating from Alamo Heights High School in 1993. After studying drama at Abilene Christian University for three years, he moved to San Francisco for about a year before returning to San Antonio.
The drama bug bit Eckman at age 4 when he sang solos in a number of children’s programs at the Sunset Ridge Church of Christ, his mother said.
“He’d sing lead solo in front of a congregation of 500 people,” Major said. “I’ll never forget the time he sang ‘Tomorrow’ and had everyone in the church in tears. He got a standing ovation, and I think that’s when he was hooked.”
Even before starting school, she said, he would make up plays and get his playmates in the neighborhood to rehearse and act the parts, then sell tickets to their parents.
His acting ability won him popularity in middle school and high school, she said.
While in San Francisco, he acted in plays. And when he returned to San Antonio, he acted in and directed plays at the San Pedro Playhouse, the Church Bistro & Theater and various other venues before joining the Jewish Community Center about three years ago, his mother said.
Frank Latson, artistic director of the San Pedro Playhouse, remembered Eckman as “a very talented young man” and said he had looked forward to seeing his acting and directing work for years to come.
Eckman won numerous Globe awards from the San Antonio Theater Arts Council in both lead and supporting roles.
“He loved the children he worked with and directed at the JCC,” his mother said. “He’d help them get into certain colleges and into plays. He brought out their dramatic and musical abilities, and he often took children from nothing to stardom.”
Jewish Community Center chief executive officer Sol Levenshus said Eckmanhad worked in the agency’s camping, children’s and youth programs before becoming cultural affairs director in 2004.
“Micah was an important member of our team. We love him, and we’ll miss him,” Levenshus said.
~J. Michael Parker EXPRESS-NEWS STAFF WRITER
Publication Date: December 6, 2006
Micah J B Eckman
Born: July 1, 1976, in Houston
Died: Dec. 3, 2006, in San Antonio
Survived by: His mother, Trina Major, and his stepfather, Jim Major, both of San Antonio; a sister, Selah Major of San Antonio; and his grandparents, J B and Evelyn Cox of Columbus.
Service: Private graveside service for the family today.
Memorial: 1:15 p.m. Sunday at St. Francis Episcopal Church. No reception.
Sterling Houston (November 8, 2006)
Once again, the San Antonio theatre community has suffered a great loss. Sterling Houston, one of the founding members of SATCO, passed away this morning (November 8, 2006) after a long illness. We will all miss his talent, intelligence, wit and passion. He was a fearless supporter of good and innovative theatre. We knew him as one of San Antonio’s finest playwrights and actors, but also as a kind and giving friend. He will be greatly missed.
~Allan S. Ross
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 18 at Holy Redeemer Church at 1819 Nevada.
In lieu of flowers, Jump-Start Performance Co. will be accepting donations towards a fund for the preservation/production of his amazing body of work.
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share on this page, please contacts us (link below).
Biography / Jump-Start
I first remember meeting Sterling at the 1982 revival of the Cornyation. He was wearing a studded collar that was attached by a chain to a dominatrix who demanded “powder me” and presented her butt to be powdered. (I meekly powdered her). Sterling said that we had met before but didn’t elaborate.
I next met Sterling when he was in the 1985 production of “A Member of the Wedding” at the Harlequin Dinner Theatre. This production featured Gert Baker and Debbie Basham and Sterling as Honey Boy. In my estimation, a truly remarkable show.
I am glad to have known Sterling and considered him to be my friend. He was an original and singular personality who met the world on his own terms. I will remember him not with tears but with laughter and poetry.
My first memory of Sterling was the fine performance he gave in the role of Honey Boy in MEMBER OF THE WEDDING. That was at Harlequin Dinner Theatre in the winter of 1985, and it was always a pleasure to work with him, and also to see him out in the world. ~Florence Bunten
Sterling Houston was a dear, kind, talented gentleman who will be missed by The Renaissance Guild. We had the pleasure to co-produce his premiere of The Living Graves which was our opening play for the 2005 – 2006 season and we also proudly produced one of his one act plays Miz Johnson & Mr. Jones for our ActOneSeries.
Sterling was a positive person and a wealth of knowledge, the San Antonio community will be lacking without his presence.
We extend our prayers to his family.
~Sincerely, Paul Riddle, Jr.
Sterling Houston — legendary experimental playwright, editor of PlayWorks, and Artistic Director of Jump-Start. Photo by Joan Fredericks.
About Sterling Houston:
Sterling Houston is a prolific and innovative African-American writer living in San Antonio. During a long career in professional theater as performer and writer in San Antonio, New York and San Francisco, he has worked with some of the greatest practitioners of modern American theater, including Charles Ludlum, Sam Shepard, and George C. Wolfe. Houston’s plays are known for biting social commentary, combined with burlesque humor and for his mastery of genres. A winner of numerous awards and honors, Houston has premiered twenty-one plays since 1988. He is currently artistic director and writer-in-residence for Jump-Start Performance Co.
At left, Ruby Nelda Perez as Rosita in “Rosita’s Day of the Dead,” by Rodrigo Duarte Clark. In center, Brigette Williams as Governor Kinkaid and LeBron Benton as Saffronia in “Womandingo,” by Sterling Houston. At right, Paul Bonin-Rodriguez in “Memory’s Caretaker,” by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez.
borrowed from: WingsPress
Alice Finney, one of SATCO’s Living Legends and a San Antonio theatre treasure, died on October 21. She was a great lady and a wonderful talent. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. She acted into her 90s and died at age 97. Her memorial service will be held on Wednesday October 25th St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 11 St. Luke’s Lane. You can find more details of her remarkable life in her obituary in the Express News, Oct. 24th.
The SATCO board wishes to express our sympathy to her family for their great loss and ours. She was a friend and an inspiration for us all.
~Allan S. Ross
Alice Thorn Finney, age 97, passed away Saturday, October 21, 2006. She is preceded in death by her husband, Frank H. Finney and her sister, Jane Thorn Campbell, her brothers, Wray Thompson Thorn, Jr., and James Read Thorn. Alice is survived by her sons: Frederick T. Finney, Frank H. Finney, Jr. and wife, Pam; grandchildren: Kevin, Michael, Mark Finney and Tara Finney Klein and Ryan Finney; great grandchildren: Taylor Klein and Genevieve Klein and many loving nieces and nephews. She attended Indiana University where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority where she maintained an active lifetime membership. Alice was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and taught English for a number of years in Michigan and Texas. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a beloved member of the San Antonio theater community where she was recognized by being awarded an Alamo Theater Arts Council Globe Award; Lifetime Achievement Award, and 1997 Actress of the Year Award. She will be greatly missed. Memorial Service Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:30 am, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 11 St. Luke’s Lane. The Rev. Dr. Walter ‘Chip’ Prehn III will officiate. Alice loved teaching and she was involved with Reading for the Blind. Those desiring may send memorial contributions to Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic National Headquarters 20 Roszel Road Princeton, NJ 08540, or www.rfbd.org. You are invited to sign the guest book at www.porterloring.com. Arrangements with Porter Loring Mortuary.
originally posted Express News, 10/23/06
What a huge loss. Alice was my inspiration for writing Chasing the Blues which will have a public reading at San Pedro Playhouse on December 9th. I saw her years ago in her brilliant performance of Horton Foote’s Trip to Bountiful at the Cellar (San Pedro Playhouse). She was magical and I told her then that I wanted to write a play that had feature roles for senior actors. She came to my house a few times to help me with the role of Cora and of Maude. ~Sincere sympathy, Sheila Rinear
We have lost a truly “Great One” a Great performer and even more than that , A Great and Classy Woman. She will be missed. ~Lou Garza, President: Stage Bulverde
Blase, 81, ‘made our Goodwill one of the best in the country’
Arno J. “Bob” Blase, who guided Goodwill Industries during a period when it experienced the greatest growth in its 60 years in San Antonio, died of cancer at his home early Friday morning. He was 81. The longest-serving president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio, Blase headed the organization for 36 years. Goodwill, which prides itself on providing the disadvantaged and the disabled “a hand up, not a handout,” offers education, training and career services so people can find and keep a job. Blase joined in 1959 and retired twice — in 1991, but returned a short time later, and finally in 1995. For many years, he was the organization, said Charles O. Kilpatrick, former publisher and editor of the San Antonio Express-News and former chairman of the board of Goodwill Industries. “Bob was a very talented man and he could have been a successful businessman but he was with Goodwill because he liked the humanitarian aspect of helping other people,” Kilpatrick said. William R. “Bill” Sinkin, a co-founder of the local Goodwill, said Blase gave the agency an image and acceptance it previously hadn’t had. “What he did is one of the greatest contributions of any citizen in this city,” Sinkin said. “He built the base and made our Goodwill one of the best in the country. It’s a remarkable achievement and his legacy.” When Blase started with Goodwill, the offices were in a former chicken hatchery and annual revenues hovered at nearly $200,000. By 1990, the agency had grown from one program: the used goods and sheltered employment program with an annual budget of $197,000, to one of the city’s largest providers of vocational rehabilitation services with an operating budget of $9million. Thousands of clients were being served and new avenues of employment were opening to those previously overlooked in the workplace. Today, it serves more than 26,000 people and has revenues of $38 million. During Blase’s tenure, Goodwill became the first organization to obtain a federal contract refinishing office furniture for area military bases under a new program that provided jobs for employees with severe disabilities. Clients just want to work and be productive, Blase said in a 1978 interview with the Express-News. “We do nuisance jobs for businesses, jobs that won’t last forever,” he said. “It may be a nuisance for the company who has to set it up, but it’s bread and butter and training to us.” Once, asked for his contribution to Goodwill, Blase answered, “People say I made a difference in some people’s lives, yes. But I didn’t make the difference. I made it possible for them to make the difference.” His commitment to people with disabilities earned Blase one of Goodwill’s most prestigious awards, the J.D. Robins Jr. Distinguished Career Award, in 1997. In 2002, he was inducted into the Goodwill Industries International Hall of Fame. A Korean War veteran, the Rosenberg-born Blase served as a communications specialist at 4th Army — now 5th Army — headquarters at Fort Sam Houston. He was program director at a Belo-owned television station before switching careers to the nonprofit sector. Blase was a member of Goodwill’s national board of directors and chairman of the Goodwill Council of Executives for Goodwill Industries of America.
His wife, Marianna, a legend on community theater stages, died in 2002. Blase is survived by two daughters, Emily Blase of San Antonio and Julie Blase of Alton, Ill.; a son, David Blase, also of San Antonio; and three grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for May 13 at 2 p.m. at the SAMMinistries Community Center at 5254 Blanco Road. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Goodwill Industries of San Antonio, 406 W. Commerce St., San Antonio, 78207-3102, or to the San Pedro Playhouse Bob Blase Fund, P.O. Box 12356, San Antonio, 78218.
~Carmina Danini, Express-News Staff Writer
Rodolfo G. Garcia (January 7, 1917 – March 19, 2006)
San Antonio has lost a Legend.
Rodolfo G. Garcia Sr. “DON FITO”, died peacefully surround by family this past Sunday, March 19, 2006 in his Westside home of San Antonio at the age of 89. He was born into a family of carperos to Manuel and Teresa Garcia on January 7, 1917 right after his mother finished performing at the Teatro Morelos in downtown San Antonio. He was known as el gran comico DON FITO El Bato Suave of La Carpa Garcia. Together with his brothers and sisters he traveled throughout Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona bringing dance, music, satire monologues, burlesque, magic, acrobatics, high-wire acts, and comedic sketches to the poor and working class Mexican-American communities. In these teatro de carpas or circus-like family-own traveling tent shows the whole family shared in the responsibilities of all aspects of carpa life— From sewing costumes and performing to tent construction and tutoring.
Even after La Carpa Garcia closed in 1947, my grandfather ‘s life and the life of other carperos continue to engage, inspire and motivate generations of artistas. Las Carpas were truly pioneers in Mexican-American Teatro and bring arte to the people. It is fitting that my grandfather died on March 19 2006 seventeen years to the date that “Los Actores de San Antonio” closed the run of the play “Las Tandas de San Cuilmas-Los Carperos” by José Manuel Galván at the Guadalupe Theater. In addition to being an inspired artist, Don Fito was a hardworking, dedicated, single father. He raised 5 children on a janitors salary in a strict household and brought them up to understand responsibility, work ethic, and to be proud of the many ways that Mexicans in the U.S. contribute to the arts.
Please join the Garcia family in honoring Don Fito by visiting our memorial at http://www.mem.com. Visitation will begin on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at 3pm with a Rosary to follow at 7 pm at Roy Akers Funeral Home. On Thursday, March 23, 2006, the funeral procession will depart the funeral home at 12:30 pm for a 1:00 pm mass celebrating his life at San Juan de los Lagos Catholic Church, 3231 El Paso St., San Antonio, Texas. Interment will follow at San Fernando Cemetery #2. In lieu of flowers, we encourage memorial contributions be made to an arts organization of your choice.
“Nuestra herencia mantiene nuestra cultura y el arte fortalece nuestro espiritu.”
Deloris Littlejohn (October 3, 1933 – March 2, 2006)
It is our sad duty to inform you that Deloris Littlejohn passed away this afternoon (03/02/06). She had a heart attack as a complication of her surgery last week, which had gone well. This afternoon she exhibited symptoms of a stroke, and then just a little while later was gone.
It is with great sadness we say good-bye to our beautiful Mother. Deloris Ford Littlejohn was born in Navarro County on October 3, 1933, the daughter of Ola Lee and Willie Mae Ford. She married Charles Elmer Littlejohn in 1951 and moved to Boerne in 1964 where she resided until her passing on March 2, 2006. During her 42 years in Boerne she came to know and love many dear friends and in return she was loved. In 1991 Deloris founded the Boerne Community Theatre (BACC-Door Theatre) where she volunteered her precious time and shared her love for the theatre with all who participated in and attended shows. She is preceded in death by her husband of 46 years Charles Elmer Littlejohn and her sister Jetty Marie Berlin. She is survived by sisters Frances Tinsley and Gerri Theis, brother Roy M. Ford, children Jerry & Charlotte Littlejohn, Tracy & Kandy Littlejohn, Kelly & Charles Talbert, and five adored grandchildren Dayna, Ryan, Lauren, Kristy and Nathan Littlejohn as well as numerous treasured nieces and nephews.Mom, Memaw, Aunt Dee Dee, Deloris, Dee and Mrs. Littlejohn ” there is a hole in all of our lives that can never again be filled. Your memory and spirit will remain strong in all the lives you have touched. We love and miss you.If you wish, in lieu of flowers donations can be made in Deloris’ name to the Boerne Community Theatre ” P.O. Box 891, Boerne, Texas 78006.The family received friends for visitation at Vaughan’s Funeral Home located at 319 E. San Antonio St., Boerne, Texas 78006 on Monday, March 6, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Funeral services were held at Vaughan’s Funeral Home at 11 a.m. on Tuesday March 7. Burial followed in the Boerne Cemetery.
Jerry Winslow (December 12, 1933 – August 30, 2005)
SATCO regretfully announces the recent passing of Jerry Winslow, August 30, 2005. There will be a memorial service at the Fort Sam Houston Main Chapel on Friday, 9 September at 10:00 a.m.
Although I never had the opportunity to see Jerry Winslow perform or get to know him, I know that many members of the San Antonio Theatre Coalition are deeply affected by his loss. He was very involved many years ago in the San Antonio theater community as an actor and will certainly be missed. Our condolences to the members of his family.
~Di Ann Sneed, President, SATCO
Jerry Walker Winslow (U.S. Army Retired) passed away 30 August 2005. He was born on 12 December 1933 to Henry (Ike) and Juanita Winslow in Eastland, Texas. He moved to San Antonio with his mother and stepfather, Jack Truskett. He married the former Iva Van Pelt on Valentines Day 1953 and they had two sons. Mr. Winslow worked in various fields including sales, management and as published author. He was a life-long actor, singer and public speaker. Jerry Winslow was preceded in death by his parents and grandson, Walker. His wife, his one true love, his two sons; Kevin, Van and his wife Pamela, two granddaughters; Vanessa and Amy and sister Judy Benton and her husband Jim of Granbury, Texas, survive him. A Memorial service will be held Friday, September 9th at 10:00 a.m. at Fort Sam Houston Main Post Chapel.
From Express News
I remember Jerry Winslow from when he played the starring role in a production of “THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH” at the Harlequin Dinner Theatre back in May and June of 1978. ~Florence Bunten
Patt “Vee” Vitella (June 10, 2005)
SATCO regretfully announces the recent passing of Patt Vee Vitella, local Stage, Film and Commercial Actress, who passed away this week
A Memorial will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2005 from 1-4 pm at Victoria’s Black Swan. Any memorials may be sent to: Hospice of SA or the Cancer Research Center
Patt Vee, her professional name, was not only beautiful and talented, she was a dear friend. Patt was the first actress I worked with in any production. It was my first endeavor, a short film. I was so green but had possibilities. The one scene we had together where she played my Mother, was so easy to do because we attached the minute I met her. The next role I got, my very first stage character was a direct result of Patt’s all encompassing friendship. I auditioned for that role only one month after we did the short film. Better as an actress, but still green, she told me to wear something so distinctive that I couldn’t be overlooked. If I could look the part and get cast, I would be taught even more about theatre. She had this beautiful big, bold red, Audrey Hepburn style hat, that she loaned to me for the audition. Boy did I stand out! Everybody there was in blue jeans and I was dressed to the nines with that hat. I wasn’t cast at first, but had a call back one week later saying that the actress cast just couldn’t exude the personality of the role. Would I come do it and would I wear the red hat! Patt, thank you! We did some murder mysteries together and I was always blown away by her versatility. She was such an absolute witch in one part, against my goodie two shoes role, that I almost believed she was mad at Barbara, not my character (still a little green, but learning). Until I was advised of her loss, I didn’t realize the impact she had on my future in this love we call performing. It all BEGAN with her and our good friends, the Reeds. She was such a thoughtful person that when I talked with her in February about a difficulty I was having, she never mentioned her illness. Knowing Patt, she must have felt I didn’t need a double dose of problems right then. If I had only known. What a loss to have someone in your life who can teach, console, befriend, counsel and be so beautiful of face and stature. My heart goes out to Fred and her family as I think of Patt Vee. ~Barbara Lewis-Harris
I am both shocked and saddened by this news. As I no longer live in San Antonio I had no idea Patt was ill. I will always remember Patt’s no nonsense approach to acting and life in general. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. San Antonio’s acting community has lost a great player but mankind has lost a great person. I am grateful that I had both the privilege to know Patt and the opportunity to work with her. ~With condolences, Keith Kaslow
Sid Trice (May 17, 2005)
I regret to inform our readers that we have lost another member of the San Antonio theater community. Sid Trice died May 17. Following cremation, his remains will be interred in West Texas near his family. A memorial service will be held at the Vexler in mid June. Sid was an outstanding actor, a gentleman, and a good man. He will be greatly missed.
~DiAnn Sneed, SATCO President
Such sad, sad news. He truly was one of the greatest actors. ~Ayn Phillips
Sid was an excellent actor and a fun guy. His loss will be felt personally and professionally throughout the community. Our thoughts are with James, his family, and his loved ones. We were so sorry to hear this sad news. ~Laurie Dietrich and John Poole
I enjoyed working with Sid in the production of Inherit the Wind. He was a very talented actor and a person I was proud to call my friend. He will be missed. ~Jerry Watson
I will really, really miss Sid, both working with him and watching him on stage. I worked with him on two shows and am so glad I had that privilege. He was a talent, a gentleman, and just nice. ~Kathleen Lovejoy
I met Sid doing What the Butler Saw, he was a phenomenal actor and person. Was always ready with a kind word or a smile. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts go out to James and his family. ~Desiree Johnson-Cortez
Sid was the best of all of us. Any actor fortunate enough to spend an hour on stage with Sid was treated to a master class in how it should be done. He was the most supportive, caring actor that I have ever worked with. We as a community are richer for having known Sid. ~Chris Champlin
I was very saddened to hear the news about Sid. I only worked with him once in The Day They Shot John Lennon and it was a privilege to work with such an accomplished actor. And what a treat to watch him on stage. Every director knows when he or she has worked with the best and Sid was just that. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers to his family and to James. ~Jerry Pilato
Sid and I performed together in a couple of local commercials…. then I auditioned for “Noises Off” at the Vexler and had the joy of spending so much more time with Sid. There was a line I always managed to ‘forget’ and Sid was always there for me – it became an in ‘joke’ for us. A treasured memory. He will be sadly missed. ~Jo (Grabow)
From Express News
Sidney Lee Trice, age 48, passed away at his San Antonio home on Tuesday, May 17, 2005. Sid was a native of Lorena, Texas, the sixth of seven children born to George and Ruth Elizabeth Starr Trice. As a self-employed computer graphics and website designer, he worked with many businesses and other organizations in the San Antonio area. Fine arts have always been at the core of Sid’s life. From early childhood, he wrote prose and poetry, composed and performed music, and created original artwork with oils, pastels and charcoal. Sid was deeply committed to the theater. During his years in San Antonio, he earned lead actor Globe Awards in drama, comedy and musical productions. His work with local theater companies, and the many friendships he formed there, were a source of great fulfillment and delight. Preceded in death by his parents. Sid is survived by his beloved partner, James Darren Collins; his sisters, Elizabeth Bartlett, Jan Nimmo, Treva Dayton and Jill Boeck; his brothers, Rex Trice and Keith Trice; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. Friends and family will celebrate Sid’s life at a memorial service in San Antonio at a date to be announced. There will be a graveside memorial service in June at the Starr family cemetery at Elkhart, Texas, where Sid’s cremated remains will be buried. In lieu of floral tributes, donations in Sid’s honor may be made to the Ruth Elizabeth Trice Scholarship Fund that he created at the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation (P.O. Box 8028, Austin, TX 78713-8028). To leave a note for the family, go to www.meadowlawn.net and Select Obituaries. Arrangements by Meadow Lawn Crematory and American Mortuary.
Bill Fagan (January 1, 2005)
WILLIAM JOSEPH FAGAN The brothers and sisters of Bill Fagan commended him to God, the source of his music, his humor, his writing, and his rich talent Saturday, January 1, 2005. Born in 1956, Bill was (as he always described himself) the fifth of seven children of James and Elise Fagan. After graduating from Central Catholic High School, Bill attended the University of Texas. He plied his comedic talents as a cast member of Esther’s Follies in Austin and at the Comedy Club in Houston, Texas. He was also a member of the Hilarions in Los Angeles. Upon his return to San Antonio, he became a much loved cast member of many of the recent productions at San Pedro Playhouse (Titanic, Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar, Big River, Cabaret, Jekyll and Hyde, and A Little Night Music). Bill will be remembered as a wordsmith and a musician whose life radiated character both on stage and off. He will be sorely missed by his siblings: Sister Mary Fagan, Martha Taylor, Tom Fagan, Marian Fagan, Margaret Jobst, and Patrick Fagan. His nieces and nephews (Michelle Taylor, Gregory Fagan, Amanda Fagan, Matthew Fagan, Will Jobst, Jack Jobst, and Grayson Jobst) will truly miss ‘Uncle Nacho’. ROSARY Angelus Funeral Home Monday, January 3, 2005 7:00 PM MASS: Our Lady of Grace Church, 223 E. Summit, Tuesday, January 4, 2005 10:00 AM INTERMENT: San Jose Burial Park. The Fagan Family wishes to thank the staff of Odyssey Hospice for their compassionate care of Bill during his last week. ‘Good Night, Sweet Prince’! Arrangements by The Angelus Funeral Home. (originally published in Express News)
Luis Lorenzo Martinez (August 10, 1926 – December 17, 2004)
Luis Lorenzo Martinez, born August 10, 1926 entered into the Hands of our Lord on December 17, 2004. He was preceded in death by his parents, Juan and Altagracia Martinez; brother, Juan Martinez and sister Maria Luisa Cuellar. Luis is survived by brother, Cipriano Martinez; sister, Maria J. Martinez; his beloved wife of 55 years, Raquel; sons, David, Luis Jr., Dennis, Daniel, Eddie (Georgia) Martinez; daughter, Melinda (Gene) Gordon; 10 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, three step-grandchildren, three step great-grandchildren, numerous nephews and nieces. Luis was a 1945 graduate of La Joya High School and 1953 graduate of the School of Pharmacy, University of Texas at Austin.
A WWII Veteran, Luis was serving in Italy, as the Armistice for peace was signed. As an honored Eagle Scout, Luis remained active in scouting and other youth activities as his family was growing. He was a Post and State Commander of the Catholic War Veterans, and was awarded the Saint Sebastian Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the C.W.V. Luis’s career as a Pharmacist spanned 50 years beginning at Klinck’s Pharmacy in McAllen, TX culminating at Brook Army Medical Center where he served as a pediatric oncology pharmacist. While at BAMC Luis was active with the Circle of Hope, a support group for families of children with cancer. Luis’s devotion to St. Mary Magdalen Church began in 1964. He was an original Eucharistic Minister and he founded the Actors of Clower and the Spanish Choir of St. Mary Magdalen.
SERVICES A Rosary will be recited at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at St. Mary Magdalen, 1710 Clower, San Antonio, TX with a Visitation One Hour prior to the Rosary. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, December 22, 2004 at SMM. Interment will follow at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery with Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Juan Martinez Scholarship Fund in remembrance of Luis Lorenzo Martinez. Mission Park Funeral Chapels North. (originally published in Express News)
Thomas Allen Rasmussen (November 3, 2003)
We have been informed by family members that Thomas Allen Rasmussen took his life on November 3, 2003.
SATCO regrets the loss of a talented, respected member of the San Antonio theater community. We extend our deepest condolences to his friends and family.
Thomas Allen Rasmussen
PIPE CREEK Services for Thomas Allen Rasmussen, 51, will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Lampasas with the Revs. Jack Shelton and Paul Kenley officiating.
Burial will be private.
Rasmussen died Nov. 3, 2003, at his residence.
He was born in Lampasas, the son of Howard Rasmussen and the former Nina Lee Jones. Rasmussen graduated in 1971 from Lampasas High School. He graduated in 1977 from Texas Tech University, where he played in the band.
After his military service, Rasmussen returned to Texas Tech Law School and majored in international corporate law. During his education, he was in the top 10 percent of his classes.
He read Chinese and spoke Spanish, German, Russian and French.
Rasmussen had the lead role in “The Foreigner,” for which he won a Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a musical last year in San Antonio.
He was employed at Lisa A. Vance Law Offices in San Antonio.
Survivors include his parents of Lampasas; and two sisters, Laura Lee Harrington and Karen Cambon, both of Lampasas.
The family will receive visitors from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Lampasas.
Dodson Funeral Home of Lampasas is in charge of arrangements.
The Killeen Daily Herald
Rasmussen – 11/07/2003
Thomas Allen Rasmussen, 51, of Pipe Creek in Bandera County, died November 3, 2003 at his residence. Allen was born in Lampasas, TX to Howard Rasmussen and the former Nina Lee Jones. He graduated from LampasasHigh School in 1971. He attended Texas Tech where he played in the band and graduated in 1977. After military service, he returned to Texas Tech Law School where he majored in international corporate law. During his education, he was in the top 10% of his classes. He read Chinese and spoke Spanish, German, Russian and French. Allen had the lead role in “The Foreigner”, for which he won a Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a musical last year in San Antonio. He was employed at Lisa A. Vance Law Offices in San Antonio. Allen also enjoyed reading, traveling, Broadway musicals, acting in local theatre productions, and carpentry work. He was also very physically active. He is survived by his parents, Howard and Nina Lee Rasmussen; sister, Laura Lee Harrington and husband Clay; sister, Karen Cambon and husband Ed; nieces, Shannon, Kellie and Carrie Harrington, all of Lampasas. The family will receive friends from 12:30-1:30 P.M. on Saturday, November 8, 2003 at First Baptist Church of Lampasas. Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 P.M., Saturday, November 8, 2003 at First Baptist Church of Lampasas with the Rev. Jack Shelton and Rev. Paul Kenley officiating. Burial will be private. All arrangements are under the direction of: Dodsen Funeral Home Lampasas, TX 76550 (512) 556-5401
originally posted on Express News website
Carla Silen (September 1, 2003)
BETH-EL PLAYERS MOURN LOSS OF PLAYWRIGHT-DIRECTOR CARLA SILEN
“Out, out brief candle.” Carla Silen, inaugural director and playwright for the Beth-El Players, succumbed to cancer on September 1, 2003, at age 52.
During the Players’ most active years, 1994 to 2001, Carla was prolific. In addition to being mother, spouse, and full-time employee outside of the home, she penned at least eight Jewish-flavored musical comedies. Carla authored all of the dialogue and most of the song lyrics for Hershel and the Chanukah Goblins, 1001 Chickens, Yousef’s Partner, Out of Ur, The Latke Revue, Latke Revue Too, The Pirate Princess and The Latke Rock. In the same time frame, she also wrote several thought-provoking one-act dramas showcased as part of Temple Beth-El’s High Holy Days activities, including a hard-hitting adaptation of Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich; Of Good Courage and A Time to Choose, relating ethical dilemmas posed by war; and From the Beginning, which offered a light-hearted, but not-so-serene scene of the Garden of Eden.
Artfully drawing from a rich Jewish tradition, Carla poked fun at the high and mighty, gender roles and the constellation of human foibles.
In degrees, her characters were imbued with her own well-developed cleverness, sensitivity, warmth and humor. Even the most profound and challenging of subjects were not off limits to her playful scrutiny–including God, whom she treated as a feminine presence in the Garden of Eden and for whom she scripted hilarious conversation with biblical Abraham.
The impact of Carla’s theatrical skill extended beyond the confines of Temple Beth-El. She figured prominently in yearly community-wide Chanukah entertainment held at the Jewish Community Center. In her position as Community Relations Director with Barnes & Noble, Carla innovatively supported all local theatre in San Antonio: she enabled companies to publicize their productions without charge by dramatizing a scene from their plays for the public at Barnes & Noble. In 2001, the San Antonio theatre community recognized her wordsmith talent, conferring upon her a Globe award for Best Original Script for The Pirate Princess.
Physically, Carla was slight, but her stature as a writer-director was immense, especially to her beloved cast members. At least 25 actors followed her from production to production, eagerly awaiting completion of her next work. She never turned away anyone who wanted a part in one of her plays. As she taught, Carla made theatre fun and, in the process, helped change lives for the better.
In her many key roles — coworker, writer-director, friend, wife, and mother–Carla loved well and was well loved. For those inclined, Carla’s family welcomes contributions in Carla’s honor to Temple Beth-El’s Levyson Memorial Dramatics Fund, 211 Belknap Place in San Antonio, Texas 78212. Another dramatist’s musing brings Carla to mind: “Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.”
Joe Leard (September 18, 1937 – June 26, 2002)
Joe Glenn Leard, 64, one of the finest character actors in San Antonio community theater, died at a local hospital Wednesday following surgery. All of us at SATCO were saddened to learn of his death. He was a respected member of the San Antonio theatre community for many years.
He spent years teaching at local schools by day and entertaining audiences at night. He’d lived in San Antonio since 1972 and had taught at Pease Middle School and Jay High School. From 1989 to 1999, Leard worked at Trinity University’s speech and drama department.
He was one of the founders of Players, a company that put on A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” and “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” by actor Steve Martin. “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” earned Leard recognition for best supporting actor in a comedy and for best scenic design.
One of Leard’s last roles, and his first in a movie, was as Harris the butler in the movie “Ravenswan.”
“Joe was a phenomenal actor and a very wise guy,” said Ross Ruediger, who wrote and directed the independent film.
Leard was born on Sept. 18, 1937, in Dallas. He earned a master’s degree from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s from Southwest Texas State University.
He was Sprules, the butler in Alan Ayckbourn’s ”Tons of Money”; the captain of the Arthur M. Anderson in “Ten November: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”; and Nathan, the Jewish grandfather in “Year of the Duck.” Local audiences knew him as Grandfather Nathan, Polonius, the Rev. Hooker, and Greg, a financial trader adopted by a dog named Sylvia.
Leard, wrote theater critic Jasmina Wellinghoff in 1992, was a “wonderful actor not seen nearly enough on our stages.”
Besides acting, Leard was a director, stage manager and set designer.”
Leard, 64, celebrated for his many theatrical skills
By Carmina Danini San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted: 06/30/2002 12:00 AM
Local audiences knew him as Grandfather Nathan, Polonius, the Rev. Hooker and Greg, a financial trader adopted by a dog named Sylvia.
Joe Glenn Leard, 64, one of the finest character actors in San Antonio community theater, died at a local hospital Wednesday following surgery.
At one time, Leard had studied to be a minister and even worked as a church youth minister but was never ordained.
Instead, he spent years teaching at local schools by day and entertaining audiences at night.
He was Sprules, the butler in Alan Ayckbourn’s ”Tons of Money”; the captain of the Arthur M. Anderson in “Ten November: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”; and Nathan, the Jewish grandfather in “Year of the Duck.”
Leard, wrote theater critic Jasmina Wellinghoff in 1992, was a “wonderful actor not seen nearly enough on our stages.”
Besides acting, Leard was a director, stage manager and set designer.
He was one of the founders of Players, a company that put on A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” and “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” by actor Steve Martin.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” earned Leard Globe awards for best supporting actor in a comedy and for best scenic design.
The San Antonio equivalent of Broadway’s Tony awards, the Globes are given by the Alamo Theater Arts Council.
One of Leard’s last roles, and his first in a movie, was as Harris the butler in the movie “Ravenswan.”
“Joe was a phenomenal actor and a very wise guy,” said Ross Ruediger, who wrote and directed the independent film.
Leard was born on Sept. 18, 1937, in Dallas. He earned a master’s degree from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s from Southwest Texas State University.
He’d lived in San Antonio since 1972 and had taught at Pease Middle School and Jay High School.
From 1989 to 1999, Leard worked at Trinity University’s speech and drama department.
In a letter he wrote to his children in 1996, Leard said he did not want a funeral.
“He wanted a barbecue beer fest to celebrate his life and that’s what we plan to do,” said Alison Beaver of Seguin, one of Leard’s daughters.
The event is scheduled for July 13 at the home of Patricia Cummins, Leard’s life partner.
He also leaves two other daughters, Denise Leard and Heather Vasquez, both of San Antonio; two sons, Jack Leard of Corpus Christi and Joe Leard II of Austin; his children’s mother, Sherry Leard of San Antonio; 12 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a sister, Winema Maxwell of Lebanon, Mo.
Thank you to Mr. Ross Ruediger for the graphic above.
Thank you, kind sir, for the memories, camaraderie, and frequent dispersal of wisdom, poetry and wit. You are missed. ~Ross Ruediger
Could you mention something regarding the passing of the dear friend of many of us, Joe Glenn Leard? He died Wednesday night (June 26, 2002) at Methodist Hospital where had been operated on for a torn aorta. Joe had been a stanch supporter and talented contributor to San Antonio theatre and had been instrumental the development and success of many actors, young and old. Joe was in rehearsal for “Over the River and Through the Woods” in the Cellar at San Pedro Playhouse when he was hospitalized with heart trouble.
Joe is sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and loved ones. In a great many cases, they are one and the same. ~Anonymous
I first worked with Joe as my director in “God: A Play” by Woody Allen at Trinity University. It had been 12 years since I’d been on a stage. He made the reintroduction seem like coming home.
His humor, his understanding, his talent and ability to step aside and let someone else take the limelight were his gifts to everyone under his direction.
He opened his heart and his home to us all. His parting came much too soon. I would like to have laughed and worked with him longer.
~Sincerely, Martha Buchanan
The Memorial Service for Marianna Blase was held at 5 p.m., Sunday, April 7, 2002 at the San Pedro Playhouse.
It is my sad duty to report that Marianna Blase passed away Thursday afternoon, March 14, 2002 after a long battle with cancer.
Marianna was a true San Antonio theatre legend. Indeed, she was recognized a few years ago for her vast achievements at the SATCO Living Legends Gala. Her performances included major roles in THE GLASS MENAGERIE, MORNINGS AT SEVEN, ANASTASIA, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, and many, many others. She also worked extensively in television.
A memorial service will be held on April 7 at the San Pedro Playhouse, time to be announced. I will let you know of any additional details as they become available.
We at SATCO extend our deepest sympathies to Marianna’s husband Bob, her family, and her many close friends.~
~Joe Libby, President, SATCO
Memories of Marianna Blase, 72, local theater icon, rabid Spurs fan
By Sonja Garza (Express News)
Gifted actress Marianna Blase, described as “a queen of local theater” with an incredible stage presence, died Thursday at her San Antonio home. She was 72.
“She was one of the great ladies of San Antonio theater. She was an absolute joy to work with and was a true actress in every sense of the word,” said Vivienne Elborne, artistic director for the San Pedro Playhouse.
While gracious and giving on stage, Blase accepted no less than the best from her fellow performers, Elborne said.
“She really lifted them up by her own performance,” she said.
Blase, who started her career in New York City and moved to San Antonio in 1959, was honored two years ago along with theater veteran John Igo by the San Antonio Theater Coalition at its Living Legend Tribute Dinner.
At the time, playwright Sterling Houston was quoted in the Express-News as saying the two set the “standards for the rest of us for decades.”
“As for Marianna, we chose her because of her incredible stage presence, consistency in her work and dedication as a performer,” Houston said in the October 2000 article. “She stayed here in San Antonio and accepted to work for much less money than she could have made elsewhere.”
While Blase appeared in television and had feature roles in several movies, including Steven Spielberg’s 1974 “Sugarland Express,” the bulk of her work was in theater, appearing on most San Antonio stages.
The longtime thespian’s husband, Bob Blase, recalls that Spielberg told his wife, “If you ever get to California, look me up,” after they finished shooting “Sugarland Express,” which used San Antonio as one of the location sites.
“She had a big scene with Goldie Hawn near the end of the movie,” her husband said.
The recipient of four Globe Awards in the 1990s — including “Best Actress in a Play” and “Best Actress in a Comedy” — Blase appeared in more than 50 roles, some of them more than once.
Perhaps her most memorable role was that of Amanda in the Tennessee Williams’ play “The Glass Menagerie,” which she performed several times. But Elborne said she remembers Blase best as Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Described as a “huge personality” with a wonderful sense of humor, Blase was known to be a big Spurs fan who taped the games and took her radio to the theater.
“She was a fan of life — that’s what she was,” Elborne said.
In addition to her husband, Blase is survived by two daughters and a son.
A memorial service, “A Celebration of a Life: Memories of Marianna,” will be held on April 7 at 5 p.m. at the San Pedro Playhouse.
“All people who want (to) can participate in the service by sharing a memory,” Bob Blase said.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that tax-deductible donations be made to the Permanent Maintenance Fund of the San Pedro Playhouse, P.O. Box 12356, San Antonio 78212.
Local legend Blase full of fire when playing ‘Menagerie’ role
By Mike Greenberg
San Antonio Express-News
I had a pretty good idea what first-class acting was like. I’d seen Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in the glory years of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, in the late ‘60s. I’d seen a lot of theater in Chicago, at the time the nation’s hottest stage cauldron, when I worked there in the ‘70s.
But then, during a vacation visit back home in the spring of 1976, a column by Glenn Tucker in the San Antonio Light induced me to go to the Harlequin Dinner Theater to see Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.”
That production sticks in my memory to this day. I can still hear the slightly quavering voice of the son, Tom, in the prologue — he was played by Richard Jones, who would go on to have a distinguished run in San Antonio theater. I can still see the Gentleman Caller, Jim, played by Tom Parker, who would become a major figure in Austin theater.
Above all, I still feel a thrill recalling the Amanda of Marianna Blase. One little phrase from Amanda’s monologue — “Malaria fever and jonquils,” a line that Blase infused with worlds of nostalgia and regret — remains one of the most prized objects in my own mental menagerie of revelatory encounters in the arts.
That 1976 production was her second “Glass Menagerie” for Harlequin. Later, she revisited the role for a San Antonio Little Theater production directed by Wayne Elkins, a superb actor and director who died too young, and for a company in Austin. I saw her Amanda again in the 1980s, in Jerry Pilato’s storefront theater on Main Avenue, where the intimacy of the space redoubled the intensity of the experience.
Blase had a wide range, but she owned the role of Amanda like Guy Lombardo owned New Year’s Eve. There will be other Amandas, and wonderful Amandas, but Marianna Blase was the reference standard. Her Amanda wasn’t just a character; it was a whole person, a life.
“It was all acting,” her husband, Bob Blase, said of the role that had seemed so real.
“She said she modeled it after my grandmother, who was an old Southern lady, an old Southern widow.”
Bob and Marianna had met in Dallas before she, freshly graduated from the University of Texas, went off to New York to study with Martha Graham and others. She clearly had the talent to make a career in New York, but “she finally made the decision she could act anywhere, and we got married in Dallas in 1955.”
Four years later they moved to San Antonio, where Bob became director of Goodwill Industries. Marianna became a staple, and eventually a legend, on local community stages while maintaining her professional standing with appearances in Equity theaters across Texas and Louisiana.
Her dual career wasn’t entirely kosher. As a member of Actors Equity, she was forbidden to appear in nonunion theaters, and no San Antonio company paid actors enough — if anything at all — to qualify. (The lack of an Equity theater remains a shameful blot on San Antonio’s cultural landscape.)
“She wrote to Actors Equity, and they very obliquely told her not to use her real name,” Bob recalled.
So, it wasn’t a typo when her name appeared as “Blaze” on local cast lists.
A blaze indeed, still burning after her death on March 14, at age 72.
A memorial celebration of Marianna Blase’s life is to be held at 5 this afternoon in the San Pedro Playhouse.
Obituary – Express News
Marianna Clore Blase died on Thursday, March 14, 2002 at her home in San Antonio. Her lifelong love of and talent for the theatre was matched only by her devotion to her family. Marianna was born on August 17, 1929 in Evanston, IL, the first child of Rev. Gerald L. Clore and Anna Ridlen Clore. Marianna graduated from Vickery Hillcrest High School in Dallas in 1948 and the University of Texas at Austin in 1952 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Marianna studied theatre arts in New York City with Martha Graham, Herbert Burghoff, and Florence Kyte. She married A.J. Bob Blase in Dallas on May 1, 1955. They moved to San Antonio in 1959, where Bob was the Director of the Goodwill Industries and Marianna appeared on most San Antonio stages. Her performances earned her four Globe Awards in the 1990s, including “Best Actress in a Play” and “Best Actress in a Comedy” in the same season, 1991-1992. The San Antonio Theater Community designated her a “Living Legend” in 2000. She was a member of Actors Equity, Screen Actors Guild, and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Bob Blase; daughters, Emily Blase of San Antonio and Julie Blase of Austin; son, David Blase of San Antonio; sister, Burneta Clayton of Nashville, TN; brother and sister-in-law, Gerald Clore and Judy Deloache of Charlottesville, VA; grandson, Jason Feuerbacher and granddaughter, Aurora Blase of San Antonio; and four stage “sisters”, Mary Denman, Alice Finney, Helen Hogan Perkins and Andrea Sandifer. Memorial Service “A Celebration of a Life: Memories of Marianna” will be held on Sunday, April 7, 2002 at 5:00 pm at the San Pedro Playhouse. In lieu of perishable remembrances, the family requests tax-deductible donations be made to the Permanent Maintenance Fund of the San Pedro Playhouse, P.O. Box 12356, San Antonio, TX 78212.
Dan McLaughlin (October 16, 1953 – July 6, 2001)
The officers and membership of the San Antonio Theatre Coalition, wish to express our profound sadness at the death of our friend and colleague Dan McLaughlin. The loss of so talented and vital an artist, administrator, organizer and activist, leaves our community measurably diminished. As a founding member of SATCO, Dan worked tirelessly through the difficulties of our formative years, and shared in our triumphs. He served tirelessly as co-chair of the SATCO Living Legends Galas, and the Performance Sampler, at the same time he tackled a professional work-load as director, actor, teacher and publicist for his theater company that can only be described as awesome.
While Dan McLaughlin is irreplaceable, we are heartened by the legacy he left behind of bountiful creativity, good humor, and artistic integrity. No one who worked with him, no one who was touched by his work, and there are many, will ever forget him. We deeply regret his untimely passing, and we are deeply grateful that he lived.
DANIEL LEE McLAUGHLIN- 07/09/2001
Dan McLaughlin, a renowned local actor and director, died Friday at 2:30 pm in University Hospital from complications due to heart problems. Dan’s resume is so long, it can’t be listed, but he has appeared at almost every theatre in San Antonio during the last 31 years. He began his professional career as an intern at the Melodrama Theatre in 1971. He worked there until the company went on the road with the hit rock opera, ‘ALICE’. He later performed with Mister Moons Magic Theater, a touring group. Dan was a graduate of South San High School where he was a student of Charley McCauley. He got his BA from Incarnate Word College under Maureen and Ronnie Ibbs, and spent one year of Graduate School at Portland University. He later worked for The San Antonio Library Foundation, and in 1993, became one of the founders of The Commerce Street Stage which later became The Magik Children’s Theatre. Since that time, Dan appeared in over 70 productions and over 400 performances. He directed hit plays like Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Ramona Quimby, and was in charge of public relations for the theatre. Dan was also a teacher in the MCT Academy and summer camp, and his love for children touched and changed the lives of countless numbers of young people. Dan was honored with Globe Awards as well as the love and respect of the entire theatre community, most of whom worked with him at one time or another. He is survived by his sister, Dorothy from Wharton, TX, and the entire resident company of The Magik Children’s Theatre, who in the course of time became true family members. A Memorial Service will be held at The Magik Theatre at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, July 10, 2001. Anyone who has appeared in a play with Dan and has a picture they want to add+ to a collage of memories are asked to bring them. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be set up in Dan’s name to contribute a significant gift to the children who attend Theatre and classes in San Antonio
I am saddened to announce that Dan McLaughlin, most recently of the Magik Children’s Theatre but an actor, director, and personality who has been a fixture in the San Antonio theatre community for many, many years, died the afternoon of July 6, apparently of complications related to heart disease, in the hospital where he had been for a little over a week.
There will be a memorial service on Tuesday evening, July 10, beginning at 7pm at the Magik Children’s Theatre. Free parking is available next to Beethoven Hall and in the SAISD lot on the corner of Alamo and Durango.
Anyone who has worked with Dan in a show or elsewhere is urged to bring a photo if they have one. A collage will be built with photos from Dan’s life Richard Rosen will give a short talk about someone who started working with him as an intern when he was 16. Then, anyone who wants will be able to share a memory of Dan with all of us. The intent is to make this a joyous celebration. As Rosen says, “this theatre is filled with Dan and always will be.”
His Magik Theatre family are asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a fund that will be established in Dan’s name that will benefit the community he was so much a part of. The specific uses of the fund will be determined by three appointed trustees, as yet un-named.
Call the theatre at (210) 227-2751 for more information on donating to the fund, for directions or other details about the service.
I wish to extend, on behalf of SATCO and personally, my heartfelt condolences to Richard Rosen, the people at Magik, Dan’s friends and all those whose lives his touched. This is a great loss to our community.
~Laurie Dietrich, SATCO President
~Diana Brown, SATCO Playbill editor
~Ayn Philips, SATCO ”E-Auditions, Etc.” editor
Actor and College Professor Nuckles dies
Appeared locally on many stages
By Daryl Bell, Express-News Staff Writer
Rolla Nuckles, a member of San Antonio’s theater community, took his final curtain call Saturday.
He was 89.
Nuckles had performed in many productions and was well known in the San Antonio area, having appeared at the Harlequin Dinner Theater, the Josephine, Woodlawn, Steven Stoli’s playhouse and the S.T.A.G.E. in Bulverde.
Recently, Nuckles was in a one-man performance, interpreting the life of the late John Barrymore in “Good Night, Sweet Prince,” a production about Barrymore’s battle with alcoholism.
Before coming to San Antonio, Nuckles appeared in several off-Broadway productions. He once appeared with Eva LaGallienne in “Romeo and Juliet”
“He preferred the live stage to movies or television,” said his niece, Susan C. Brown.
“He had opportunities, but he just loved the live stage.”
Nuckles performed with June Lockhart at the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse in a production called “The Pleasure of his Company.”
He also played with the late Roddy McDowell in “Harvey.”
“They got along so well that Roddy McDowell asked him to accompany him to New Orleans, where the show was moving to,” Brown said.
Born in Creighton, Mo., on July 8, 1911, Nuckles held a bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in drama from Northwestern University.
He later became a professor of speech and director of drama at Kansas before taking posts at Old Dominion University, the University of New York and St. Mary’s University.
He is survived by two nieces, Susan Brown and her husband, the Rev. Kenneth Brown of San Antonio and Rebecca Johnson and her husband, Dr. Paul Johnson of Leavenworth, Kan; and a sister-in-law, Pat Nuckles.
Services will be held at 2 pm Wednesday at Sunset Northwest Funeral Home at 6321 Bandera Road, San Antonio.
~San Antonio Express News – October 4, 2000
David Bowen was a publisher, bookseller, teacher and an actor. He was born Joshua David Bauman in New York in 1930. He was a graduate of Harvard University and earned a Master of Arts degree from City College in New York in 1967. Bowen first came to San Antonio in 1966 to help prepare for HemisFair’ 68. He was manager of the Youth Pavilion in the early months of HemisFair and remained in San Antonio after resigning his position with the Fair. Among other jobs, he taught history at St. Mary’s University and sold books. In 1973, Bowen opened a rare bookshop, On Paper, on Broadway Avenue in Alamo Heights. The store operated for nine years and closed in 1982. In 1977, Bowen helped to settle the accounts of Naylor Publishing Company, a prominent San Antonio based publisher, which was declaring bankruptcy. After this experience, Bowen formed his own publishing company, Corona Publishing Company (Corona). Corona went into business in the latter half of 1977. Bowen called Corona “the world’s smallest general interest trade publisher”. It published a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books including short stories, poetry and children’s books. Corona was nationally recognized for its work with certain topics including open adoption. Dear Birth mother, a book concerning open adoption was published in 1983. It sold tens of thousands of copies and became an open adoption classic recommended by the Child Welfare League of America. Bowen was also co-manager of the King William Bookhouse in the 1990s and performed in several theatre productions. Bowen’s health slowly deteriorated in the middle of the 1990s and he died on January 23, 1998 at the age of 67. Bowen’s many contributions to the San Antonio community were eulogized in The San Antonio Express News by columnist Judyth Rigleron Sunday February 8, 1998.
Wes Carroll (April 6, 1916 to May 7, 1994)
San Antonio Express-News March 1990 Obituary
Wayne K. Elkins, Jr., 37, died Sunday morning, March 11, 1990 at his home after an extended illness. Most recently Wayne had been the managing artistic director of San Antonio Little Theatre and directed plays for Harlequin Dinner Theatre, Ft. Sam Playhouse and was a founder of Off-Stage, Inc. Wayne had been involved in theatre for most of his life and directed hundreds of plays. He also founded Texas Stage Company and designed settings and lighting for many productions. His influence on the theatre scene was innovative and unparalleled and will be felt for many years. Wayne is survived by his parents, Carol and Wayne Elkins, Sr., his partner Brad Van Langen, friends, and others touched by his life and work in the theatre. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, March 13, 1990 at 11:00 A.M. at Central Christian Church, 720 N. Main Ave. In lieu of flowers Wayne asked that friends make a contribution to the charity of their choice.
Below is an article written by Dan Goddard, with corrections by Carol Sowa:
Note from Ms. Sowa: So as not to perpetuate historical inaccuracies, I have taken the liberty of correcting several factual errors in Dan Goddard’s moving tribute to Wayne’s life below, which I am sure others in theatre winced at as I did at the time of publication. As Goddard noted, he did not come on the scene here until later in Wayne’s career, so would not have been familiar with some of the earlier productions.
I was in Wayne’s memorable production of “Romeo & Juliet” for SALT’s Off-Stage, for which Judy Jay was the choreographer and whom Goddard mistakenly referred to as playing Juliet. (Juliet was played by Vana Tribbey.) He also referred to “Shenandoah,” directed by Wayne, as being the first play done at Harlequin Dinner Theatre. It was not. I know because I was in the play that opened Harlequin and it was “Goodbye, Charlie,” directed by Penny Cox Gray (also now deceased).
Lastly, he misspelled Marianna Blase’s name as “Blaze” throughout. I have corrected all these errors in the story below. (I did, however, leave in his spelling of “theater.”)
Also: The Fort Sam Houston Playhouse did not become the Harlequin Dinner Theater, they were separate entities within the army’s music and theater program. ~W. Chris Champlin
The Sunday Express-News, San Antonio, March 25, 1990
By Dan R. Goddard – Express-News Arts Writer
Wayne Elkins’ life, death touched so many
At age 19 and the veteran director of 20 plays, including a now legendary production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the Express-News declared Wayne Elkins the “boy genius of San Antonio theater.”
Years later, when the boy who grew up in the basement of the San Antonio Little Theater had become its managing artistic director, Elkins liked to wear a T-shirt with a line from “Peter Pan”: “I’ll never, never grow old.”
The words proved sadly prophetic. Elkins died March 11 at age 37 after a three-year battle with fungal meningitis. His death has forced his friends, family and community to confront the unspeakable.
At first, Elkins was reluctant to make public the fact that he suffered from AIDS. But in his final months, Elkins talked about his disease in a video that was shown at a benefit for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian and AIDS-patients political lobbying organization.
Identifying himself as a patient with AIDS, Elkins said, “The past two years have been what I can only call an enlightening journey. I’ve learned a lot about myself, people and the value of living. I can’t help but wonder what it costs to keep me alive each day; I imagine the figure would boggle my mind. But I have been fortunate because my insurance company has continued to pay.
He makes a plea of support for the HRCF, so that “we can finally get a grip on this terrible, terrible disease.” One source said that Elkins’ medical bills topped $2 million.
A good man
Elkins concludes with the words of a wise old man: “Tragedy in life is not what evil men do, but very often that good men do nothing.”
There’s no question Wayne Elkins was a good man. A much admired and generous man, who made many significant contributions to the community he served.
More than 600 people turned out for his memorial service March 13 at Central Christian Church, including many of the actors, technicians, singers, dancers, designers, costumers and others that Elkins worked with over the years. As a leading San Antonio director since his debut at age 16, Elkins touched the lives of almost everyone connected with theater in the city.
“I think he was better than anybody at finding the right people and getting them to work together and that’s what you need in community theater,” Bill Swinny, a member of the SALT board said. “He had a strong, vibrant personality and a wonderful enthusiasm that just seemed to bring out the best in people. And he could work with all ages, especially children. His loss is a great tragedy for SALT. We’ll never find another one like him.”
His mentor was Joe Salek, SALT’s longtime managing director. Elkins could have been SALT’s artistic director for as long as he wished.
He was also the protégé of Carol Lee Klose who introduced him to theater when he was a seventh-grade student at Krueger Junior High School. Klose also taught him for four years at Roosevelt High School, when Elkins became involved in children’s theater at SALT and began directing in the late 1960s.
“When I first saw him, he was a funny kid with braces on his teeth who had been sent down from the art department to help me paint some sets,” Klose recalled. “I think Wayne had a God-given talent to work with the written word. He had an innate sense for how words on paper could take form in theatrical expression.
“He did a tremendous amount of reading and research about theater. Many of the plays he did in the ‘60sand ‘70s, which so many people thought were wildly experimental, were really just a part of many things going on in theater across the country at the time.”
His “Romeo and Juliet” with a circus setting, which he directed at 19 on the SALT main stage, remains one of his most fondly remembered shows. Judy Jay, who now directs Off-Stage Inc. that Elkins helped found, choreographed the show and remembers Juliet as a member of a trapeze family swinging out over the orchestra pit.
“We went to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was in town at the time, and asked them to help us with the trapezes. We also spent a lot of time at the Hertzberg Museum,” Jay said. “He loved circuses. He even once considered seriously going to clown school. But he was an artist in every sense of the word.
“He had a wealth of talent and he shared it; he was very generous with it. He had the ability to take a lot of medium-talented people and make them look like a million bucks. But we were both known as the “kids in the basement,” and I think it was hard for him to shake that image. I don’t think he always got the consideration out-of-town directors would get. He was kind of taken for granted, but I think he had more talent than just about anyone who has directed in San Antonio.”
Elkins did not have any formal training beyond his high school years. He attended San Antonio College for a few months, but he never earned a college degree, something that probably kept him from leaving San Antonio for more lucrative markets. On the other hand, he began working professionally for the Fort Sam Houston Playhouse in his early 20s. As Jay put it, “He learned by doing.”
The Playhouse eventually became the Harlequin Dinner Theater*, and this is where Elkins did shows such as “Cyrano de Bergerac” with Burdette Parks, “Charley’s Aunt” with Ian McCord, and Steve Ware as Will Rogers. For the Harlequin, Elkins directed a memorable “Shenandoah” starring Frank Christian.
“When I read the script for ‘Shenandoah,’ I thought, oh no, they’re going to kill us. The critics will hate it,” said Bruce Shirky, who is the interim director of Harlequin. “But Wayne Elkins took that script and made it a glorious evening. He was the most talented and gentle person that I have ever known. He did some of the best theater seen in San Antonio. His other passion was art. He could draw anything, and he was a great collector of art.
Elkins designed and built sets, finally leaving Fort Sam with Bill Larsen as technical director for the now-defunct Church Theater in the King William Historic District. Elkins eventually directed several shows for the Church Theater, including “Carnival” with a Chagall motif, “A Streetcar Named Desire” starring Magda Porter and a much-respected “The Subject Was Roses” with Dan Laurence, Marianna Blasé and Ware.
“Sometimes I think Wayne’s shows sound better in retrospect than they actually were,” Blasé said. “But I’ve gone back and looked at the reviews and they were good reviews. He had his share of disasters, but he wasn’t afraid to take risks. And he could pull off amazing things.”
Elkins was also involved in forming a couple of theater companies in the ‘70s. In 1972, he and Laurence, who is well-known as the editor of George Bernard Shaw’s letters, formed Off-Stage Inc. as an offshoot of SALT that would take plays to where the people were: schools, jails, barges on the River Walk. In the mid-’70s he launched his Texas Stage Co. with his other most talked about, if not seen, Shakespearean production, “The Taming of the Shrew” performed on scaffolding in front of the Alamo.
After working as a free-lance director for many years, Elkins was finally hired as SALT’s managing director in June 1984. He took over SALT at a low point in the history of the community theater, which has gone through many highs and lows of public support over the years. But Elkins was instrumental in helping to stabilize SALT, reviving the Saltines, renovating the SALT Cellar Theater and, especially, attracting new people and money to the theater.
Elkins finally had the stage he most coveted. He opened SALT’s 58th season with “Guys and Dolls,” which introduced Mim Green to San Antonio audiences and had SALT’s current president Byrd Bonner as her grandfather with Andrea Sandifer playing a gum-smacking gun moll.
“No one had ever seen me. I had been in the chorus of one show, but Wayne was willing to take a chance,” Green said. “I think Wayne taught me how to feel childlike on stage and yet never feel stupid. He taught me how to hold my hands while I was singing, and it’s something that I still use.”
Sandifer recalled, “”Guys and Dolls” was the first show I ever did with Wayne. I remember about the third week of rehearsal seeing him sitting with some of the people in the chorus discussing their characters, giving them names and personal histories. He took time to take care of the little people. He always did a lot of background research before a production and had a clear vision of what he wanted on stage.”
And I believe that my stint as drama critic for the Express-News began with a generally favorable review of “Guys and Dolls.” Elkins’ shows always had a unique spark; he usually managed to come up with memorable images. He understood the importance of stage magic, from using a revolving stage in “Fiddler on the Roof” to using live plants as part of a summery set for my favorite production of his, Paul Osborn’s “Morning’s at Seven.”
Elkins handpicked the cast for this 1939 comic drama about four sisters dealing with small town gossip in the 1920s. The cast featured Helen Hogan, Mary Denman, Alice Finney, Rolla Nuckles, Blase, Swinny and Sandifer. You would have to understand something about the egos involved to fully appreciate the miracle of this show, but the women in the cast still get together and have lunch about once a month. Elkins simply had a way of getting the most unlikely people to work together.
“Morning’s at Seven” was a milestone for me,” Denman said. “Wayne took a lot of strong performers and built a real ensemble. He really knew how to match the person with the part. And he inspired great loyalty. His casting was innovative, and he knew how to take raw talent and mold it. I don’t think he was ever really satisfied with his shows. They were never as good as what he could imagine. But he was a creative, insightful director.”
Christmas shows, the bane of most critics’ existence, became something special with Elkins at the helm. Not many directors would think of casting two men, Robert Kislin and John Pollard, as the ugly stepsisters in “Cinderella,” or bringing in Peter Foy, who made Mary Martin fly on Broadway, to make Vivienne Elborne as “Peter Pan” soar at SALT.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that the last show Elkins staged was “Annie.” Holly Imper, the star of the 1987 Christmas show, sang a heartbreaking rendition of “Tomorrow” at Elkins’ memorial service.
Elkins finally took an indefinite leave of absence in May 1988. He tried to make a comeback the next fall by directing J.B. Priestley’s “Dangerous Corner,” but was unable to finish. He spent the next 2 and a half; years in and out of hospitals. At the end, he asked to be taken off life-support systems about two weeks before he died
One friend who talked to him during the last week said, “He was a courageous man. He fought this thing for three years. But he never let it beat him. When I last talked to him, I think he was trying to ask for permission to die, like so many terminal patients will. He said he was ready spiritually to die and I think he was able to make peace with many of the people around him before he died.”
But not everyone has been able to accept the fact that Elkins died of AIDS. In the video that he made, Elkins said that he had been asked to speak against discrimination toward people with AIDS. Elkins, however, said that he did not feel like he had been discriminated against, even though when he was first hospitalized no one would enter the room without wearing a mask and gloves.
Another friend noted: “Many AIDS patients die with no one around them. Wayne did not die alone. I think his story is an important lesson for San Antonio because AIDS is robbing us of many of the nation’s artists. Wayne’s death is a terrible thing, but to keep the cause of his death a secret would be an even greater tragedy because the silence only perpetuates the discrimination associated with the disease.”
Goddard’s story mentioned the “heartbreaking” vocal solo by Holly Imper of “Tomorrow” from “Annie” at Wayne’s memorial service on March 13. (“The sun will come out tomorrow…”) Could not help feeling Wayne had “directed” the following then:
Express-News, San Antonio, Texas, Thursday, March 15, 1990
Storm ends rainy spell for San Antonio, region
By Loydean Thomas – Express-News Staff Writer
A long rainy spell ended for the San Antonio area Wednesday when a cold front swept the moisture off to the east and cleared the skies for a rare bit of sunshine. …
In the early nineties, specifically November of 1992, there was some decent theater work happening in downtown San Antonio. Nestled deep in the heart of the King Williams neighborhood, was Bill Larson’s Alamo Street Theatre and Restaurant (now Casbeers), that was running Noel Cowards “Fallen Angels”as it’s inaugural play. It was directed by Danny Spear and the cast consisted of company members including Pammy who recalls it being a fun show and received a good review for comedic role as the “know-it-all” maid. The place is reputedly haunted and on the evening of the anniversary of Eddie Reffel’s death (a legendary San Antonio actor, theater mover/shaker and theatrical entrepreneur), Pam dedicated the evening’s performance to him and a split second later the lights went out. There were no storms or any other reasonable cause for the power outage except perhaps Eddie playing a prank as he often did in life. Nonetheless, the show went on. Pam entered the stage, in character, to explain that during her travels to Africa or Asia, such occurrences were not permitted to interfere with any theatrical presentation. With that, the show went on in candlelight until just minutes before the end of the play when the lights came back on. Life is so much more fun with theater.