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In Memoriam: Glenn Becker, 70

Stage Directions • Industry News • June 22, 2020

Industry visionary Glenn Becker passed away on Friday, June 19th at the age of 70. Most people associate the words “industry visionary” with someone who has developed new technology or new ways of doing something, but Becker’s vision was about bringing the industry together to make it a better industry. He thought that competitors could come together and share ideas and solutions to make business easier and more successful for everyone. Because of that vision and Becker’s hard work, the Theatrical Dealers Association (TDA) was born.

Becker organized its founding meeting in the fall of 1987 and served as the first president from 1987 to 1991. In 1994, when the decision was made to transform into ESTA (the Entertainment Services and Technology Association), the TDA Board turned to Becker to chair the committee that rewrote the bylaws and set up the new organizational structure. The Board would continue to turn to Becker over the years to take on special projects that required his unique mix of association wisdom, diplomacy, tenacity, and willingness to do the hard work.

Becker became involved in theatre in high school. In 1968 he took a job delivering newspapers for the Chicago Sun Times and on his first day he read the paper and saw an ad for a job at Grand Stage Company which had been founded by Paul Tyler in 1947. Glenn was hired and one of his first jobs was to assist in the company’s move to its new building on Lake Street – in the midst of the infamous Democratic National Convention. Becker started off coiling cable and helping in the rental department and within a year had worked his way up to become General Manager. He also worked as a theatre electrician and stage manager across Chicago area theatres.

In 1977, Becker and his wife, Janel, took over the full running of the company from Paul. The passing years saw offices opened in Detroit (which eventually merged with a Vincent Lighting office) and St. Louis (in partnership with Associated Theatrical Contractors), as well as the acquisition of New York Costume Company, Northwest Theatre Associates, Tech Theatre, Art Drapery Studios, MidWest Scenic, and Chicago Spotlight.

Becker was well known for his wry sense of humor, and at the same time, his ability to get straight to the point and keep us focused. Most people know that he loved penguins and “The Mouse.” He was also fascinated by trains and travel and had a passion for antique cars. But his love and loyalty for his family was his highest priority.

Becker is survived by his wife Janel (nee Tyler), children Greg (Amy) and Brittany (Eric), and four grandchildren. Notes of condolence should be sent c/o Grand Stage Company, 3418 North Knox Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641. The family requests donations in Becker’s memory be made to Behind the Scenes at www.behindthescenescharity.org/donate.

 

Editor’s Note: When I was the Midwest Regional Sales Manager for Electronic Theatre Controls in the early 90s, Grand Stage was one of my dealers in Chicago and I worked closely with Glenn and his staff. This was around the time that Glenn, and other dealers were getting started with the Theatrical Dealers Association (TDA). Glenn was a very good business person and he knew theater and Chicago like the back of his hand. He surrounded himself with great, hardworking people at Grand Stage. I miss my conversations with Glenn and never quite knew when he was being serious or if he was pulling my leg. If he had a bone to pick with me, I knew then and there that we would work together to solve it. He will be missed! Requiescat in Pace, Glenn Becker. – Michael S. Eddy

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