Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Memoriam: Patty Noonan

Posted by Bruce Miller
I was heartsick to read this weekend in the Times-Dispatch of the death of Patty Noonan, pictured to the right and below in recent photos from her work in NYC. Twenty-six years ago, Patty played Isabel, one of the Major General’s daughters, in Barksdale’s 1982 production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. She also returned to Hanover Tavern the following year to appear as a Rapturous Maiden in Patience, the next production in our ‘80s string of Gilbert and Sullivan hits.
The photo shown above is from that 1982 production of Pirates. The actresses, from left to right, are Bridget Gethins, Patty Noonan, Lauren Leinhaas-Cook, Dianne Graham, Betsy Paugh, Nancy McMahon and Ruth Travis.

Patty was a student at Marymount High School during those two Barksdale productions, which made her the youngest member of our cast. She was wildly enthusiastic about theatre—particularly musical theatre. When she died of non-smoking related lung cancer last month in New York City, Patty was only 41. She is survived by her husband and 15-month old daughter, Chris and Lily Malone, both of Verona NJ; her mother, Beth Noonan of Bloomfield NJ; her father, Jack Noonan of NYC; and her sister, Kathleen Farrow of Highland Mills NY.

Prior to her death, Patty worked as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Economic Development at Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit membership organization comprised of CEOs from NYC’s top corporate, investment and entrepreneurial firms. This was a very important and prestigious position. The Partnership works closely with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to enhance the economy and maintain New York City’s position as the global center of commerce, culture and innovation.

A loving tribute to Patty has been written by her friends and colleagues in NYC, and can be found at

In 1981, Patty was in the first class at SPARC, back in the days when SPARC worked mostly with high school students. In numerous ways and without charge, Theatre IV assisted SPARC administratively for its first three years. In 1984, Jeri Cutler, SPARC’s founder, felt she had enough students to make it worth her while to incorporate SPARC independently as its own nonprofit company.

The “stars” of those first few years were Ruth Heltzer, Patty Noonan and Emily Skinner (although I’m sure there were also others). Because of the close association at that time between SPARC and Theatre IV, we got to know all three of those vibrant and talented young women pretty well. Of the three, Emily was the showbiz wonder, as one might imagine, and Ruth and Patty made up the bright and energetic supporting cast. Always smiling, always thinking, always ready to go to work, Patty seemed almost omnipresent in those days. Her well trained, surprisingly mature singing voice won her the roles at Barksdale, and she embraced the experience.

I confess I’d not kept up with Patty over the years, but I wasn’t surprised to read in the paper of her tremendous professional success. Even as a teenager, her intelligence and drive—her clear determination to make a difference—always made her stand out as someone to watch. It’s heartbreaking that someone so genuine and accomplished left us so soon.

SPARC is accepting contributions to a scholarship fund they have established in Patty’s name. To help Patty's daughter understand the important contributions she made to NYC, her family is helping to establish a fellowship in Patty's name for young women pursuing a degree in public policy at her alma mater, the Wagner School at NYU. Contributions may be sent to NYU Wagner Noonan Fund, attn Lisa Taylor, Puck Building, 295 Lafayette St., New York 10012.

In keeping with our longstanding custom, we at Barksdale will be dedicating our upcoming production of The Little Dog Laughed to Patty’s memory.

With her many friends and family, we cherish that memory and mourn her passing.

--Bruce Miller


Anonymous said...

Patty was a bright and shining light from her childhood on. She was my friend at Marymount, and the star voice pupil of Mrs. Grant (now Amy Hruska). When Patty was cast at Barksdale, she was SO excited--there was lots of jumping up and down and screaming involved. This was a real accomplishment for a high school student. She LOVED being part of the Barksdale family. Thanks for writing this nice piece. All of us who knew her feel the same way. What a terrible loss.

Anonymous said...

Patty was a colleague of mine at the New York City Partnership where I worked with her until 2000. Together we wrote "High Performance Building and Affordable Housing", an essay published in the Sustainable Architecture White Papers in 2001. She was without a doubt one of the most passionate, thoughtful, caring, energetic and optomistic people I have ever known. She was so very talented. Her enthusiasm for life and her commitment to being a part of policy solutions will certainly be sorely missed.

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