Robert E. Gard Award

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

2018 Honoree
Photo of David ZachariasDavid Zacharias, Merced, CA
In December 2017, the Merced Center with the Performing Arts Merced Playhouse lost an important friend in David Zacharias. His support and leadership over the years ensured that the theatre remained open for the past 24 seasons. Whether it was as a board member, patron, donor, actor, or many of the other hats he wore, David was a fixture of his community theatre for every year since it began. It was through his work, leadership, and kindness that Playhouse Merced weathered many changing tides and has grown stronger with a broad base of community support.

Robert Hypes, Artistic Director of the Performing Arts Merced Playhouse comments, “Now, every day as I walk through the double doors in the Playhouse, I am reminded of the tens of thousands of lives that have been made better because one person took an interest in community theatre so many years ago."

2018 Honoree
Photo of Joseph ConnorJoseph Connor, Sandy Spring, MD
Joseph has served as the lighting director for every single production at the Sandy Spring Theatre Group (SSTG) for 45 years—125 shows and counting. He not only does the lighting designs, but also hangs fixtures and often runs the light board for shows. He has also helped other theatre groups. Mention Joe’s name to anyone active in community theatre in Montgomery County, Maryland, and they will know him, his work (including a lighting design award presented at Maryland’s One-Act Festival), and his dedication. In addition to his primary job as lighting director, Joe has also served as Executive Producer of SSTG for the last 32 years.

Dr. Joe Connor, a physicist by day before he retired and SSTG lighting director extraordinaire, has captured the hearts of all who have known and done theatre with him. He is a theatre treasure. He is always impressed by the caterpillar to butterfly transformation that occurs when someone passes from the darkness of the wings into the lights of the stage.

2018 Honoree
Photo of Pat HeissPat Heiss, Charlotte, NC
Pat is a “triple threat” actor, dancer, and singer, who has performed and volunteered at Theatre Charlotte for 56 years, and she proclaims, as in Follies, “I’m still here!” Over a span of 20 years, she served as a Board Member and then President of the Board. Pat is a “hands-on” event planner for the theatre’s annual fundraising ball, and continuously works to raise interest and community theatre participation in the Charlotte region. She has received numerous theatre performance awards and wide recognition for her volunteering efforts. Pat has a passion for Theatre Charlotte and strives to ensure it continues as a welcoming venue and community resource for actors and volunteers for generations to come.

After 55 years, Pat is still a most dependable and loyal volunteer. Theatre Charlotte couldn’t do without her.

2018 Honoree
Photo of Kathleen DavisKathleen Davis, Evergreen, CO
Kathleen has served the Evergreen Players for 51 years. From the start, she has taken on every role that community theatre has to offer, from cleaning the toilets to serving as actor, director, stage manager, choreographer, sound designer, light board operator, grant writer, and in various board positions. Kathleen is currently President of the Board for the Evergreen Players, guiding the organization into a new era with a new educational facility to serve both children and adults. In recognition of her service to community theatre, Kathleen received the Distinguished Merit Award from the Colorado Community Theatre Coalition. She has participated in the Colorado Theatre Festival, winning several awards, and was part of the Evergreen Players journey to the 2001 AACTFest National Festival with their production of All in the Timing.

Kathleen’s guiding principles: “What can we do for the community?” and “What does the community need from the Evergreen Players?”

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 (Toledo, 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)
2015 Ruth Behrend* (Hartland, WI)
2015 Guy Dillaway (Weston, MA)
2015 Jean Endrizzi (Duluth, MN)
2015 Richard and Elaine Albright (Aurora, IL)
2015 Libby Kafka (Sharon, MA)
2016 Beverly Allen (Helena, MT)
         Barbara Christensen (Hartland, WI)
         Margi Ritscher (Ansbach, Germany)
         Susan Tucker (Concord, MA)
         Dr. Charles "Bud" Vear (Hillsdale, MI)
2017 Sally Barnes (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma)
         Gloria Filean (Des Moines, Iowa)
         Barry Fuller (Memphis, Tennessee)
         Rita Heizer (Billings, Montana)
         Gerri Nichols (Troy, Ohio)

20152015 2015


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.


Authorize.Net Merchant - Click to Verify Credit Card Merchant Services