In Memory: Mary Huggins

Daughter, wife, mother, friend, actor, director, visionary. Mary Huggins touched the lives of thousands during her remarkable 95 years. Most notably, she left a beautiful legacy of three children, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren – each one, blessed by her passion, and her love.

Mary Paula Richard was born in Sittingbourne, Kent, in June of 1923. She and two older sisters – Agnes (Humphrey) and Peggy (Levett) – were raised in southern England. During World War II, Mary joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, where she was part of the tactical team that helped to fight the air war during 1941 and 1942. After the war ended, Mary met Douglas Huggins, a dashing soldier who had returned from service in Burma. In storybook fashion, the two were married in 1947.

After the birth of their oldest child Michael, the family emigrated to Vancouver where Douglas began working as an architect. Soon after, their second child Susan was born. Hoping to settle in a growing town, the Huggins’ moved to Vernon in 1958 where they would contribute to the community for over 50 years. Their third child, Peter, was born in 1961 to complete the family.

It was during this time that Mary and Douglas – along with a few dedicated others – founded the Powerhouse Theatre. The pursuit of excellence in theatre led Mary to act in over 25 productions, and direct some 20 more. She also became the organization’s artistic director for several years, where she was responsible for developing the season playbill and procuring guest directors, costume designers, and others to raise the bar even higher.

Through her mentorship, she influenced generations of young actors, technicians, and administrators – many who have continued in theatre at all levels. They remember Mary as an inspiration, and someone who had a profound impact on their lives.

Her career stands at the pinnacle of community and professional theatre. In 1965, Mary was honoured with the Nella Jefferis Trophy for Best Actress, at the Dominion Drama Festival in Brockville, Ontario. Additionally, she is a five-time winner of the Best Actress award at the Okanagan and British Columbia regional festivals. Between 1970 and 1975, Mary also performed at the Vancouver Playhouse and Vancouver East Cultural Center in professional productions of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg”, “Relatively Speaking”, and “Heartbreak House”.

In 2006, Mary was awarded the Eric Hamber Award, presented annually to a person, group or institution having made an outstanding contribution to community theatre in British Columbia over a long period.

Amongst all of this, Mary and Doug travelled extensively, seeing five continents and holidaying yearly in Maui. In 2009, they moved to Maple Ridge, where they could be close to their children and growing extended families. Even as her cognitive abilities faded, Mary never lost her wry sense of humour – joking, singing, and loving everyone until the end.

Mary passed peacefully, surrounded by family, and blessed by a priest as she had wished for. As she lay, Mary left one lasting impression that would have sealed the academy award in any decade. She let one tear fall down her cheek, took her last breath, and left this world.

She rejoins Douglas, her closest friend Paddy Malcolm English, her parents, sisters, and in-laws, where they now dance the night away, and quite possibly are producing the latest version of a Shakespearian classic. If you close your eyes and listen carefully, perhaps you can hear Mary, as Juliet: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”

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In Memory: Dave Carroll

Dave Carroll, December 27, 1957 – December 13, 2018.

Dave was born in England and immigrated to Canada in 1971, he was an adoring father, skilled craftsman and devoted volunteer at the White Rock Players Club.  Most sets built had his name on them and if you needed a piece of furniture built he’d gladly do that for you too. Dave was also seen on stage but mostly worked behind the stage. A longtime board member with the White Rock Players Club he was also involved in many Theatre BC festival shows and loved learning “new tricks”.  He had a very dry sense of humour that was appreciated by all. Dave’s presence at White Rock Players Club is deeply missed.
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In Memory: Randy Holmes

Randy Holmes, September 23, 1956 – September 29, 2018.
Randy was a gentle soul and well loved by all who encountered this gentle giant. He was a past Vice President with Theatre BC and enjoyed all things theatrical. Randy was an actor, director and general all around great friend. He believed in the values of community theatre and always strived for excellence. Langley Players, Surrey Little Theatre, Vagabond Players were some of his homes away from home. He moved to Mission with Jane Hyslop and they joined Opening Nite Theatre Society (ONTS) where Jane helped with costumes and of course acting, and Randy both directed and acted. After Jane passed away Randy retired to Comox.
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In Memory: Mike Busswood

Michael Donald Busswood – or “Busswood” as he was lovingly know as by friends and family passed away on July 28, 2018 after a long battle with heart disease. Mike’s towering presence and dry wit always added to the conversation. He included his whole family in community theatre, his wife Cathe, and daughters Samantha and Kaitlyn. Mike had received many awards and accolades for his acting, producing and directing.  He was president of Surrey Little Theatre for a number of years. A real supporter of Theatre BC, Busswood was frequently involved in festivals shows with the Fraser Valley Zone.

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In Memory: Sharon Lynch

It is with heavy hearts that after a brief and unexpected illness, Terrace Little Theatre says goodbye to Sharon Lynch, who left this world and our theatre community September 9th, 2018, with her husband Jim by her side.

Sharon Diane Lynch (nee Cone) was born in 1941 in Rosetown, Saskatchewan. After she married Jim Lynch they moved to Terrace to raise their four children. She joined the Terrace Little Theatre in the 1960s. There was no looking back, because from that time forward Sharon was involved in almost every TLT production in one way or another.

A talented actress, Sharon beguiled audiences in innumerable productions including “Bus Stop”, “A Streetcar Named Desire” (Best Supporting Actress at Mainstage), “Father of the Bride”, “Waiting for the Parade”, “Harvey”, “The Watering Place” (Best Actress SKZ), “Ravenscroft”, “Vigil” (Best Supporting Actress SKZ and HM Mainstage), “Murder is a Game” and “Maggie’s Getting Married”.

Sharon loved to act, but she also had a keen eye for design. From the tiniest makeup detail to the broad strokes of colour scheme or set design, Sharon had something to contribute. Not just in words. At times she was found crawling around the concrete auditorium floor, painting it to look like a vintage attic, decorating a glossily lacquered rickshaw, or repainting the TLT resident fixture – a wingback chair – to look like weathered leather. Her opinions on costume were not for the faint of heart,  and it paid to listen because her eye knew what was needed. Her backstage quick-change costume lessons were legendary, if not a bit frightening to the uncooperative actor. Should TLT be in need of a piece of furniture, all you had to do was ring up Sharon and explain the problem. Usually this resulted in Sharon arriving at the McColl Playhouse, single-handedly staggering towards the building, hauling various pieces of furniture apparently lurking in her home to the auditorium.

In later years Sharon became a constant, supporting actors who needed to learn lines, and as Mother Lynch, then renamed Mumsie, in the dressing room calming nerves, fixing eyeliner, and supplying lemon drops, individual carefully labeled makeup packets, tissues and wet ones. And yes, sometimes The Wrath of Sharon reared up; never pretty at the time, always forgiven and funny afterwards.

Sharon was intensely loyal to the Skeena Zone and Theatre BC, tirelessly promoting the value of being part of the incredible kinship between Clubs, Zones and the provincial office. She served on the TLT Board, and as Club Rep and Zone Chair. She received Skeena Zone’s coveted Tom Rooney Award in 1999 for her service to the Skeena Zone.  In 2008 she received the prestigious Theatre BC Eric Hamber Award for her contributions to the theatre community.

When we lose one of our greats, the hole in our hearts is big. Filling Sharon’s  (stylish) boots is not possible. But we can learn from her example of commitment, loyalty and utter love for community theatre.

So long, Sharon Lynch. Give notes at the Pearly Gates; we know you want to. Fly with the angels. Look after the TLT.

~ Submitted by Terrace Little Theatre

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In Memory: Gordon Mantle

Gordon Mantle passed away after a short battle with cancer on April 23 in Peace Arch Hospital.

He was a long time Theatre BC member and board member, and cheerleader extraordinare for the Greater Vancouver Zone. He was also a long time board member for the Community Theatre Coalition and the White Rock Players Club. He was an actor, sound designer and well-loved stage manager. Gord inspired all newbies that joined the community theatre fold. An avid photographer, he often posted his morning photos of his beloved White Rock Pier.

A message from Fred Partridge, President White Rock Players’ Club:

“The White Rock Players’ Club is sad to announce the passing of Gord Mantle; one of our longest-serving Board members. Gord passed away peacefully on Monday April 23rd after a brief stay in hospital. Gord was a dedicated lover of theatre and was involved with many other theatre clubs and organizations in addition to the WRPC. He maintained a busy schedule, attending countless productions all over the lower mainland, and of course, his trips to see Broadway shows in New York City. Gord’s history with the Players’ Club goes back to the 1970s, and he was a amazing resource when it came to Club history. At one time or another, Gord was involved with every facet of the production of a play and he was the go-to person for people new to theatrical productions. His knowledge was only over-shadowed by his kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness – he was a rare gift to our Club and to all that knew him. We will all miss him.”

The community theatre world has lost another great soul.

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