Hundreds gather to remember drama professor Lee Salisbury

  • Sunday, August 9, 2015 11:14pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Hundreds of people gathered on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus Saturday to remember professor and theater director Lee Harvey Salisbury.

The more-than-two-hour memorial service drew friends, family, musicians, colleagues, even politicians. The group met in the theater named after Salisbury, who pushed for its construction in the 1960s.

Salisbury, who launched the school’s drama program in the 1950s, died in March. He was 87.

During his time at the university, Salisbury taught speech and radio, acted in or directed more than 100 plays, was instrumental in getting the theater built and helped establish KUAC public radio.

He was “funny, witty, provocative, outrageous and a master raconteur,” said musician Nick Bosek.

In one of the day’s several performances, Bosek joined two other musicians to play “The Girl from Ipanema.” Salisbury often requested the song when Bosek performed at a Fairbanks bar in the 1980s, he said.

Eulogist Merritt Helfferich started the evening on a lighthearted note when he took the podium in costume and introduced himself as an “old trapper.”

He spoke affectionately about Salisbury, calling him a “supportive and kind” director.

State Rep. Adam Wool also took the stage, presenting a commendation honoring the director on behalf of the Alaska Legislature.

When Wool met Salisbury, he felt like he “knew him well, all of a sudden.”

Salisbury’s daughter Kate Egowa and long-time friends Ronan Short and Paul Quist remembered the man fondly, describing him as kind, warm-hearted and fun.

He was “an equal opportunity iconoclast” who loved “clean jokes, dirty jokes, religious jokes,” said Short, who delighted the audience with a selection of them.

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