Robert E. Gard Award

Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer
Presented to volunteers over 65 who have faithfully served community theatre for over 25 years

2015 Honoree
Ruth Behrend
Hartland, WI

Ruth BehrendRuth starred in the Lake Country Players June 1959 debut production, Sabrina Fair, and for over 54 years she has continued to volunteer her time and talents. She has worn many hats during her time with Lake Country Playhouse including actress, director, treasurer, board member, box office chairperson, and marketing and event coordinator. In 2000 Ruth initiated Lake Country Playhouse's summer children’s program fostering the talent of area youth and nurturing a pathway for the current educational programs offered through the theatre. Ruth's on-going commitment and dedication to Lake Country Playhouse has helped to create a solid foundation for what is now a vibrant and thriving community theatre.

2015 Honoree
Guy Dillaway
Weston, MA

Guy DillawayIn 1965 the Weston Friendly Society (Weston, Massachusetts) needed an actor to fill a vacated role due to an emergency. Guy Dillaway stepped into that role and has never left! Guy has actively and selflessly promoted the art of community theatre on a volunteer basis for a half century. He has worked back stage, catalogued donated items, organized props and storage, built cafe tables and a Shakespearean stage to allow the group to perform in the round, designed and helped build sets, and served several terms as president. Guy is the keeper of the keys to the Weston Town Hall where the group performs and is there, come sunshine, rain, hail, or snow, to open the hall for every rehearsal and performance. Community theatre service has become a family affair with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter all joining in to help.

2015 Honoree
Jean Endrizzi
Duluth, MN

Jean EndrizziJean has volunteered for the Duluth Playhouse for more than half of its 100 years. She has documented much of Duluth Playhouse's centennial history in over 25 years of her Back in Time newsletter articles - which she continues today. Jean has held every volunteer position at the Playhouse except director and treasurer. That covers a lot of ground over hundreds of shows. Jean served on the statewide Minnesota Association of Community Theatre (MACT) Board for many years and is currently an Emeritus Director for MACT. Her many honors have included being named Miss Twin Ports, which recognizes outstanding community contributions from Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. Jean taught English and speech for thirty years and is renowned for her theatre parties and wonderful collection of theatre masks and books.

2015 Honorees
Richard and Elaine Albright
Aurora, IL

Richard and Elaine AlbrightRichard and Elaine have been active members in Grove Players (Downers Grove, Illinois) for over six decades, beginning in 1966 when both auditioned for Grove Players’ first musical, Pajama Game. During this journey, they have become the two most respected and beloved company members Grove Players has ever known. Dick, an accomplished actor and vocalist has appeared on stage more than 45 times, most recently as an ensemble member in The Dining Room. Behind the scenes he has produced, directed, been a tireless set construction warrior, and paired up with Elaine on the costume committee. Dick has served on the board for six terms and on Grove Player's Play Selection Committee, including numerous stints as chairperson. Elaine's resume certainly does not pale against that of her spouse. A superb vocalist and actor she has many stage credits, has served as assistant director, worked on set, set dressing, costumes, and properties committees. She is a fixture as house manager, has served on the Grove Payers' Board eight times, and won Grove Players' all-time Most Valuable Volunteer for her work as costume designer and builder. For a number of years Richard and Elaine provided and served lunch for Grove Players’ crews working on SIS (Set Install Saturday)! Could it be they know and appreciate that the best way to reach an artist's heart is through his/her stomach?

2015 Honoree
Libby Kafka
Sharon, MA

Libby KafkaLibby has volunteered 32 years at the various community theatres in southern Massachusetts; and she's not done yet! Had her hours not been cut, she would still be at every performance of every show. Libby has volunteered for Actors Collaborative, Foxboro Orpheum, and the Sharon Community Center before her current volunteer work at Mansfield Music and Arts Society. In the past fourteen years alone, Libby volunteered her time for 1,232 performances (4,928 hours); not counting concerts. Her volunteer efforts have included concessions, handing out programs, taking tickets, making coffee, and making sure the theatre lobby and restrooms are presentable for patrons. She also provides coffee, soda, milk, and baked goods at her own expense. Libby is the ultimate of all volunteers who enjoys greeting patrons and making sure they leave with a smile and a friendly "come again." Well known in the southern Massachusetts theatre scene, Libby is known to many of the actors simply as Grand Ma.

Previous Recipients
1982  L. K. Boutin (Des Moines, IA)
1983  Ruth Kenyon Tate
          (North White Plains, NY)
1984  Emma & Alan Bowlsby
          (Indianapolis, IN)
1985  Roberta Kendrick (Minneapolis, MN)
1987  Peggy Greene (Topeka, KS)
1988  Alice B. Rogers (Memphis, TN)
          Hilda Greenquist (Racine, WI)
1989  Mary Peckham (Omaha, NE)
          Lil Williams (Ardmore, OK)
1990  Dick Brown (Des Moines, IA)
1991  Mary Dwyer (Sheyboygan, WI)
1993  Firth Chew (Spokane, WA)
1994  John Edmands (Racine, WI)
1995  Ruth Cole (Midland, TX)
1996  Holley R. Webster (Wallingford, PA)
1997  Jean Mitchell (Grand Rapids, MI)
1998  Dottie Griffith (St. Joseph, MI)
1999  Betsey Reeder (Memphis, TN)
2000  Jane Margison (Riverside, CA)
           Robert Montgomery (Bremerton, WA)
2001  Heddie Kent (Concord, MA)
2002  Paul Sturner (Tonawanda, NY)
           Isabella Ward (Dover, DE)
2003  Charlotte Hall (Fort Thomas, KY)
          Fred Normand (Rome, NY)
2004  Tom Cowley (Ponca City, OK)
          Jo Pruden (Fort Shafter, HI)
2005  Hal Robinson (Royal Oak, MI)
          Sherman C. Ward, Jr. (Haddenfield, NJ)
2006  Marge and Ted Ressler (Dover, DE)
2007  Rosemary Green & Louise Carpenter
          (Ocala, FL)
2008  James N. Alexander, III (Haddon
         Heights, NJ)
         Peg Brandon (Winter Haven, FL)
         Henry Pope (Walla Walla, WA)
2009  Rae Cohan (Newport Beach, CA)
         Max Polley (Davidson, NC)
         Willa Wye Rockett (Belmont, MA)
2010  Arthur Delo, Jr. (Jersey City, NJ)
          Martha Kovacsi (Bay City, MI)
          Madge Levinson (Toldeo, OH)
2011  Geri Becker (Venice, FL)
           Wayne Pressnall (North Platte, NE)
           Bennett Wood (Memphis, TN)
2012  Don Mansfield (Jackson, MI)
           Judi Schweppe Johnson (Eugene, OR)
           Richard C. Whaley (Annapolis, MD)
2013  John Lynn (Mundelein, IL)
           Charla Rowe (Fort Washington, MD)
           Richard Sherwin (Tallahasee, FL)
2014 Alvin Blasco (Streator, IL)
         Ron McDaniel (Danville, IL)
         Barbara Tarlin (Wellesley, MA)



Robert E. Gard

This award is named in honor of Robert E. Gard, because of his lifetime commitment to theatre at the grassroots level. He taught playwriting at the University of Kansas and at Cornell, became a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, Humanities Division, and remained a fellow, and held numerous Rockefeller Foundation grants for many years. He later helped to found, with Professor Alexander M. Drummond, the New York State Playwriting Project, and helped to establish a statewide training program for New York State playwrights. In 1945 he received an offer to join the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he established the Wisconsin Idea Theatre Conference. He remained as director of Arts Development until, at age 70, he retired from all administrative duties. Gard founded the National Community Theatre Center in 1958 and conducted a national survey of the American Community Theatre in 1957-1958 for the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1967 Gard led a team, which surveyed the American Theatre for the National Theatre Conference. In 1967 he received the first large grant made by the National Endowment for the Arts for work with smaller communities.

Gard's list of citations is long: Kansas Theatre Hall of Honor; Pabst award for service to nationality groups; Distinguished Citizen Award from the Governor of Wisconsin; Member of the Finnish national Academy of Sciences and Letters; National Chairman of Fulbright Theatre Committee; Distinguished Service Award, Wisconsin Theatre Association; and many other awards and citations. The Robert E. Gard award was established in 1982, following Gard's offer to fund a "superior volunteer award" to be given annually to one or more persons who have served their theatres faithfully for many years in an unpaid capacity.  ACTA (later AACT) decided to name the award in Professor Gard's honor.



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