Their pens and their voices are at rest
But remain as a beacon for those who follow
Rosalind Cramer was Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts at Daemen College in Buffalo, NY, where she taught for 36 years. She was co-founder and former Artistic Director of Buffalo’s award-winning Theatre of Youth (TOY) Company, now in its 47th year. Roz, as she was known to her friends, helped found The Charles Street Playhouse in Boston, Massachusetts, together with her friend and colleague, Olympia Dukakis.
Roz received her BFA degree in Theatre from Boston University and an MA in Speech and Theatre Arts from Columbia University. She acted and directed at theatres throughout New York and performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts, as well as at Asolo Rep, The Backlot, Theatre Odyssey and the Players’ Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.
Roz was a passionate advocate for theatre as a humanizing influence and change agent for children and adults. During her long career, she directed or performed in more than 250 productions and, in her later years, focused on writing plays.
A vital and talented artist, Roz died of cancer on April 7, 2017.
Helen Knyvett Pell (née Durgin) was born in Scarsdale, New York on September 5, 1936 and died in Sarasota, Florida on November 4, 2017 with the love of her life, Dick Pell, by her side.
As a suburban housewife and mother, she was politically and philanthropically active. Helen fell in love with theatre in the sleepy bedroom town of Amityville, New York in the late 1960’s, when she was drawn into Amityville Community Theatre by another local actor, Brian Dennehy. Her passion for theatre led a friend to connect Helen with a fellow thespian, Richard Pell, with whom she immediately fell in love and embarked upon the adventure of her life.
Helen and Dick traveled extensively, often on their sailboat, Comfy, and made friends wherever they went. She loved to entertain and frequently hosted dinner parties, at times as fundraisers for favorite charities, in her adopted hometown of Sarasota, Florida.
Helen was a fun and engaging mother, a hard worker and a voracious reader. She inherited her mother’s delicious British wit, wielding puns and saucy double entendres with a skilled delivery, even in her last years, leaving behind delightful memories. As she declined into memory loss, she often said, with a wry grin, “of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”
Verna Safran, who passed away on November 5, 2017, taught English and History in middle-school and high-school. She also worked as a freelance journalist, writing articles on health, civil liberties and women’s issues, which have been published in national magazines. She served on the board of the Sarasota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was active in the Unitarian/Universalist Church of Sarasota.
Verna was also an actress, director and playwright with the Asolo Play Readers. She wrote three musical shows for children, which were professionally produced – The Prince and the Pauper, Hiawatha and The Legend of Paul Bunyan. She also had stories and poems published in Highlights, Ladybug and The Readers Digest Educational Series. Her most recently published children’s book was Justin and the First Amendment.
Dick Pell, died on October 15, 2018, at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, surrounded by family. Born on February 5, 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dick grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Choate School and Cornell University, where he studied electrical engineering. During the course of his life, he travelled across six continents with his razor sharp mind always fully engaged.
Dick’s business activities were diverse and successful, with a major focus in the telecommunications industry and he had been awarded several patents.
Dick was a sailor and, together with his wife, Helen, lived aboard their sailboat a great deal of time. In the early 1990s, what was planned as an overnight mooring for them in Sarasota harbor, turned into a house purchase and more then twenty-year love affair with all of the natural beauty and cultural richness that their new favorite city had to offer.
Dick and Helen had both been very active in local theatre productions in the 1960s and those interests were rekindled in Sarasota. Between attending many hundreds of theatrical productions and concerts and constantly performing on stage at numerous venues, Dick took advantage of everything Sarasota had to offer. He and Helen were passionate about enriching the lives of local children, supporting programs that exposed them to live theatre performances and planting the seeds for the arts to be sustained for generations to come.
Those who knew Dick remember a vital man, whose typical daily schedule was never mundane. He vigorously pursued whatever was on his daily calendar with unbridled enthusiasm. When offered any opportunity to perform, Dick lived by one credo – never say no.