Saturday, July 28, 2007

In Memoriam: Paul R. Cramer Sr.

We are saddened to note the passing this week of Paul R. Cramer, namesake of the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts at Steward School, home of our current production of Disney’s High School Musical. The crew dimmed the lights on Friday evening in Mr. Cramer’s honor, and we will be dedicating The Member of the Wedding, our fall production at Barksdale Willow Lawn, to his memory.

We didn’t know Mr. Cramer well; we met him only once. When Barksdale Theatre and Steward School first revived the Greater Richmond High School All Star Musical last summer, Mr. Cramer attended our co-production of Grease. He told us how proud he was to see talented students from all over metro Richmond coming together to create a citywide musical in the theatre that bore his name.

Mr. Cramer came to Richmond and Steward School in 1975, leaving his Massachusetts home to dedicate the rest of his life to building and enriching the Steward School family and campus. When he arrived, Steward had one building and 203 students K – 10. After 19 years of Mr. Cramer’s exemplary leadership, Steward School is today a cornerstone of metro Richmond’s educational community, boasting an enrollment of 615 in grades K – 12, five academic buildings, a thriving athletic campus, and one of Virginia’s most impressive theatre facilities.
The first thing Mr. Cramer did when he came to Steward was to invigorate the curriculum by placing a new emphasis on the arts, music and theatre. It was in recognition of this visionary commitment that the magnificent theatre at the Cramer Center was built and named in Mr. Cramer’s honor.

Mr. Cramer’s legacy will live on at Steward for decades to come. Each summer, 30 to 50 high school theatre students from throughout Central Virginia will come together and benefit greatly from the arts programs that he fostered and sustained.

The student participants in the 2007 production of the Greater Richmond High School All Star Musical come from 20 different high schools and home school programs, and live in 18 different zip codes. Virtually all of them come from schools without theatre facilities that approach the Cramer Center’s level of professionalism. Mr. Cramer’s legacy will continue to benefit not only students like these, but also tens of thousands of cheering theatre fans, young and old, who come to see them perform.

With his family and friends, we at Barksdale Theatre mourn Mr. Cramer’s passing. We also celebrate with them the many great things that have been brought into being by Mr. Cramer’s dedication and hard work. His life has made, and will continue making, an undying contribution to the entire student body of all of Greater Richmond.

--Bruce Miller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An appreciation for the value of arts in education! What a legacy to leave behind. Mr. Cramer's vision and accomplishments will change the lives of students from all over town for decades to come. His family must be so proud.