Monday, September 17, 2007

In Memoriam: Gary Douglas Wade

Posted by Bruce Miller

Gary Douglas Wade, 48, died of a heart attack this week. He was a respected theatre artist with CAT, Dogwood Dell, the Firehouse, Henley Street Theatre Company, Henrico County’s On-the-Air Radio Players, and the Jewish Family Theatre at the Weinstein JCC. I regret that I didn’t know Mr. Wade. Many of my friends thought highly of him. We will dim the lights of our theatres this week in his memory.

The following comments are pulled from this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Gary Douglas Wade's enthusiasm was at its British best as he coached and played soccer, designed theater sets and acted in area productions. The lean, 6-foot-plus athlete played soccer Sept. 9, but became winded as he hiked with a friend in the Blue Ridge Mountains the next day. He urged his friend to continue while he returned to their car to rest. Mr. Wade, 48, died of a heart attack before he could reach the vehicle, according to his longtime friend Anthony "Tony" Grebas.

A celebration of Mr. Wade's life will be held Sept. 23 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Art Works Inc., 320 Hull St.

Most recently, Mr. Wade had designed the set for the Henley Street Theatre Company's upcoming production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. He also co-designed the set for the 2004 Chamberlayne Actors Theatre run of Blithe Spirit and did the set, as well as performing a role, in the 2005 production of Fools at the Weinstein JCC.

This week, he would have begun rehearsing for his role as a college dean in the Firehouse Theatre Project's upcoming production of Spinning into Butter. He also had performed and directed for Henrico County's On-the-Air Radio Players.

'Not only was Gary a talented actor but also a great carpenter and craftsman, designing many of the sound effects used for the radio shows,' said Marc Follmer, a Radio Players board member.
'People were immediately drawn to him,' said his friend Kathryn Dipasqua. 'He was so funny, engaging and extremely outgoing. He was tremendous at physical humor.'

Theatergoers might remember Mr. Wade as the stripper in the 2002 Dogwood Dell production of Legends -- especially the night he peeled down to a thong emblazoned with the Union Jack. That year he also appeared as a grieving husband in the Dell's The Bad Seed and as a con man in the Chamberlayne Actors Theatre thriller Wait Until Dark.

In his spare time, he loved to bring together the diverse friends he made as he acted, played midfielder with Central Virginia Soccer Association's Metro Sting team, coached the Chesterfield Flames in the Midlothian Soccer Association and served as a TV commentator for high school soccer.

Survivors include his mother, Muriel Wade, and a brother, Brian Wade, both of Worcester Park in Surrey, England.”

To all those who were Gary's friends, we offer our deepest sympathies.

--Bruce Miller


Frank Creasy said...

Bruce - God Bless you for your kindness in posting this memorial to Gary. He was my dear friend for almost fifteen years.

Following a long absence from the stage, Gary was largely responsible for encouraging me to perform again. He was always the "straw that stirs the drink", the person bringing together disparate friends who had just two things in common: Friendship with Gary, and a desire to celebrate the good things in life.

For Gary, the good things in life included an appreciation and love of theatre. Like so many of us who are in (or come to enjoy) theatre regularly, Gary recognized theatre arts as a true celebration of life, something to be savored in all its' delicious varieties.

There are many great stories to tell about Gary, and space would not permit a good accounting of his impact. But like many of Gary's many, many friends and loved ones, my grief today is still heavy as I try to understand how someone so fully alive (and so young by our modern standards) could so suddenly be taken away. What I do know, though, is that Gary's kindness, generosity of spirit and love of life's simple blessings will stay with me the rest of my days.

Rest in peace, mate. Well done. Well done.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

Gary was a beautiful, effusive and wonderful man. He was props master for "Proposals" at CAT in 2002, the show that brought me and my husband together. He gave a wonderful toast at our wedding and even caught the garter!

The news of his passing was such a shock, and I cannot express deeply enough how much he will be missed. Those of us who were lucky enough to know him all feel the same way, I'm sure.

Thank you for posting this here.