- by Jacob Coakley
Frank Willard, vice president of Syracuse Scenery and Stage Lighting, died January 8 of a heart attack. Willard was VP of Syracuse Scenery and Stage Lighting, a position he had held since 1984. He was among the first to become an ETCP Certified rigger, and worked tirelessly to share his technical expertise in rigging, lighting, curtains and track to engineers, architects and the entire theatre community. He was a founding member of TDA - Theatrical Dealers Association (then ESTA, now PLASA). He also served on the J.R. Clancy, Inc. dealer advisory committee. Donations in Frank's name can be made to ESTA Foundation Behind the Scenes, Ducks Unlimited or the YMCA. A full statement from Syracuse Scenery and Stage Lighting after the jump.
The statement announcing Willard’s death, from Syracuse Scenery and Stage Lighting:
With heavy hearts and already missing our friend and our trusted co-leader, we report the unexpected passing of Frank Willard.
Frank was born and raised in Watertown, NY, graduated from Immaculate Heart Central High School and attended Jefferson Community College. In August 1975 Frank took a job as an installer at Syracuse Scenery & Stage Lighting Co., Inc., and 9 years later Frank became the Vice President of the company, a position he held at the time of his death.
Frank was indeed one of the good guys. He was among the first group of folk to become an ETCP Certified Rigger and was very proud of those credentials. He worked with architects and engineers to provide theatrical technical expertise in rigging, lighting, curtains and tracks; performed rigging inspections; worked with the company's project managers and installation staff and always showed up with a smile and helping hands when the page went out for all employees to report to the sewing room to fold an unusually large curtain.
Frank was an avid outdoorsman and spent any time possible hunting. He also reveled in visiting as many brew pubs as he could and was especially fond of USITT Conference meetings in Long Beach so he could visit the Yard House. Frank provided untold hours for many years assisting his wife Helen, then USITT Stage Expo Manager, with Stage Expo layouts, load-ins and load-outs.
Frank was the company's representative as a founding member of TDA - Theatrical Dealers Association (then ESTA, now PLASA). He also served on the J.R. Clancy, Inc. dealer advisory committee.
Frank had been hospitalized on January 7 with a gallstone problem. He was scheduled for surgery later in the week to remove his gall bladder. During the evening of January 8 Frank had a heart attack from which he did not survive.
Our company, Helen and Frank's family will greatly miss this vital personality and we will all continue to be glad that he was a part of our lives, even though he was taken from us far too early.
A celebration of Frank's life will be held 12 noon, Saturday, January 12th at the Watertown Elks Lodge 496, 728 Bradley St., Watertown, NY.
Helen Willard can be contacted at 8251 Middle Road, Dexter, NY 13634. Donations in Frank's name can be made to ESTA Foundation Behind the Scenes (http://www.estafoundation.org/bts/contribution.htm ), Ducks Unlimited or the YMCA.