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
David Zacharias, Merced, CA.
In December, the Merced Center with the Performing Arts Merced Playhouse lost an important friend in David Zacharias. His support and leadership has ensured that this theatre has 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 this community theatre for every year since it began. It is through his work, leadership and kindness that Playhouse Merced weathered the ebbs and has grown stronger with a broad base of community support. Says David: “Now, every day 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
Joseph Connor, Sandy Spring, MD
For 45 years Joe has served as the lighting director for every single production at the Sandy Spring Theatre Group–125 shows and counting. He not only does the lighting design, but also hangs and often runs the light board for the shows. He has also helped other theatre groups–mention his name to anyone active in community theatre in Montgomery County, Maryland, and they will know Joe, his work (including a lighting design award 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. From his nomination papers: “Dr. Joe Connor, now 81 years of age, a physicist by day before he retired, and our lighting director extraordinaire, has captured the hearts of all who have known and done theatre with him. He is our treasure.”

2018 Honoree
Pat Heiss, Charlotte, NC
Pat has provided outstanding service to The Little Theatre of Charlotte and the local theatre community for 55 years. She has served on the Board of Directors, several times as President, as chair of many committees and Director of Special Events. She is currently in her third year as a member of the Broadway Ball gala committee. Pat has appeared on stage many times, and has served as stage manager and usher for countless productions. She hosts and performs in the theatre’s cabaret series, and is the curtain speaker for opening night of all Main Stage productions. Whatever the job, Pat handles her duties with unmatched flair. From her nomination papers: “After 55 years, Pat is still our most dependable and loyal volunteer. We couldn’t do without her.”

2018 Honoree
Kathleen Davis, Evergreen, CO, 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 stage manager, choreographer, sound designer, light board operator, grant writer and in various board positions. Presently, Kathleen is the President of the Board for the Evergreen Players, guiding the organization into a new era, with a new educational facility for both children and adults. In recognition of her service to community theatre, Kathleen received the Distinguished Merit Award from the Colorado Community Theater Coalition. She has also participated in the Colorado Theater Festival, winning several awards, and was part of the Evergreen Players journey to the national AACTFest with the production of All in the Timing. Kathleen continues to ask the questions: From her nomination papers: “Her 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