In Memoriam



Jim Batten


James Batten

Died June 10, 2001

One of the best bosses I ever had.

A caring, compassionate man.

Several years after I left his employ at Advertising Associates, he opened a photography studio and took portraits of my family.

We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, but the main question on his mind was, "Jerry, are you happy?"
I don't recall what I said.


Benjy


Benjy

Died April, 2012 under mysterious circumstances.

A very funny dog, with a special personality.

Absolutely hated thunderstorms. At the first rumble, he would go and hide under the bed.

His favorite activity was riding. Anywhere, in a car, in a golf cart. Anywhere, anytime. He would get very upset if he thought you were going somewhere without him!


Jill 'Pony' Burge


Jill "Pony" Burge

Died July, 2005.

Pony and I worked together at Pegasus Theatre. She was the Stage Manager, I was the Assistant.

Her favorite expression was, "Have a good time or go home!"

And so we did. About 100 people, none of whom I ever met before, got together at her home in Okoee, Oklahoma on August 9, 2005. Even though I didn't know anyone, people came up to me anyway and introduced themselves. At the end of the evening, we all held hands in a huge circle and sang.

Then we shot off fireworks. Pony always loved fireworks.

She was cremated, her ashes spread over her land.

Most everyone agreed if you have to go, this would be a good way to do it, with a party.


Joe Dickinson


Joe Dickinson

Died April, 2010 from emphysema.

I was Joe’s “bookie.”

I did three shows at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, which he formed in 1980.

During the time I did the shows, I organized several Lotto pools between Pocket and Pegasus Theatre. Joe was one of my main contributors.

Sorry we didn’t win, Joe. I promise to do better!


Brett Finley


Brett Finley

Died March 4, 2013 of cancer.

I never saw him after high school in 1977, but he had an effect on me anyway.

Helped me record some funny tapes satirizing our high school’s drama productions. Appeared in one of my films.

The improv scene he did with Rick Bearden in Drama class was one of the funniest things I ever saw. He played a farmer who sees a UFO crash, and tries to communicate with an alien.

I wish I’d stayed in touch. Seldom do we realize the opportunities we have in front of us, until it’s too late and the person is gone.

Hopefully Brett and I will meet again, on some unknown day in the distant future.


Mother


Eddie Ruth Fitzgerald

My mother. Died April, 2011 of heart & kidney failure -- 1 week before her 86th birthday.

One of my best friends, we talked about almost everything. I called her usually once a week.
Even today, I have to resist the temptation to call her whenever something happens to me.

I can still hear what she always said every time I would call: “Well, I’m glad you called …”

Several years ago, I bought a Haier television set from a man in North Dallas. Mom liked to watch television. She would spend hours watching "Cops" and "Main Event Wrestling." When she was on her deathbed, I got her to promise me she'd pay me a visit after she crossed over. In late 2012, the set started turning itself on and off. I took it as a sign. I bought a "Cops" DVD and plugged it into the player.

More recently, my answering machine has been coming on without the phone ringing or anything on the Caller-ID. I love it.


Peggy Fitzgerald


Peggy Jo Fitzgerald

My Aunt Peggy. Died May 7, 2012 from complications when a doctor prescribed a medicine she was allergic to.

She loved a good joke, loved to laugh, and did it every chance she got.

After Dad passed, she helped our family take care of the house.

A wonderful lady.

A few days before she passed, she lay in bed in a coma. I told her a joke. I think she must have heard me. I just hope it was a joke she hadn't heard before.


Blue Fitzgerald


Truman D. "Blue" Fitzgerald

My father. Died March, 2006 of congestive heart failure.

One of the hardest workers I ever knew.

An excellent provider, which was a role he had to take on at an early age. He originally wanted to play basketball, but had to give it up when his father died and he had to support his family.

Many years later, he still followed the sport.

He sacrificed much for others. Taught me almost everything I know about money.

He helped me pay off my student loan and did what he could to keep me afloat.

For that, I am grateful.


Fred HoundDog


Fred (Hound Dog)

Died July, 2013 when hit by a truck.

My walking buddy.

In September, 2011, I had spinal surgery on my neck, and spent two weeks recuperating at my cousin Judy's house on Lake Fork.

On September 14, I started walking again, on the gravel road leading from the main highway.

Every day. And Fred went with me.

I don't know what Fred got out of it. There are a lot of things a dog can do out in the country like that. Fred decided to walk with me.

When I get to Heaven, I hope to find Fred waiting for me, ready to walk.


Barry Jones


Barry Jones

Died July 5, 1981.

Voted “Class Clown” at Robert E. Lee High School in 1977.
Known for his outstanding sense of humor, I consider him my “muse.” Had a great effect on me.

One of my biggest problems growing up was taking myself too seriously, with little talent to back it up. Barry taught me to loosen up and see the humor in most situations, which gave him the key to popularity. I believe he helped me write my best work. Whatever sense of humor I have today, I owe to him.

Not a single day goes by when I don't use some lesson Barry taught me.

He died in a hit-and-run car accident one night in San Antonio. The other driver was never caught.


Jan Jones


Jan Jones (Alston)

Died September 6, 2011.

My high school Drama teacher.

I was always causing trouble, always finding things wrong. And she was always threatening to kick me out of the department.

I took Drama very seriously – I was a real perfectionist, selfish and narcissistic, which rubbed her the wrong way.

Part of the reason I got into professional theatre in Dallas was to show her, “Look at me, see what I’ve done!”

I had no idea she had gotten her Masters at Stephen F. Austin, where I got my degree in 1986.

I always remember what she said to us before every show -- "God loves you, I love you. Break a leg."
If I ever teach a theatre class, I'm going to use that line.


Marjorie Jones


Marjorie Jones

Died September, 2011.

Barry’s mother, a very sweet lady who touched many lives.

I visited with her the year before her death, and she told me things about Barry that I never knew.
I like it that Barry had such a loving family environment.

Barry was a lucky fellow to have Marjorie for a mom.


Steve Lovett


Steve Lovett

Died 2009

Talented writer & actor, popular author of “Babes In Outer Space,” “Drac in the Saddle” and “Unrequited Love’s a Bore.”
The Column Award for Outstanding New Work by a Local Playwright was named the "Steve Lovett Award." I hope someday I might win one, so I can thank Steve publicly.

One night outside Pegasus Theatre during the run of “Unrequited Love,” I changed a tire on Steve’s car.

I always enjoyed going to Steve’s Christmas parties. I went to half a dozen of them. One year I got there really early and Steve let me mix the secret punch!
Steve had this incredible video collection of weird dance numbers from dozens of Hollywood movies.

Every year, a group of theatre people who knew Steve get together at a Chinese restaurant for dim sum, which Steve liked. We always leave a chair open for him.


Trent Meaders


Trent Meaders

Died March 2012.

He was my Uncle Trent.

I knew him my whole life. He and his family visited my family a number of times in Tyler, and some of my most memorable childhood trips were when we visited them in Houston and New Orleans.

He worked for Exxon, and one time we visited his office in Humble Tower. It was my first ride in an elevator, and to a 4-year-old child, that's a big deal!

In later years, Trent showed his wonderful generosity by donating to a number of schools and civic groups. He also made it possible for my cousins Judy and Norman to adopt several children.


Spencer Prokop


Spencer Prokop

Died 2009.

Actor and Director on many stages, including Pegasus Theatre.
Played Lt. Foster in several black&white shows before me.
Sometimes if I knew he was in the audience, I would do something unusual with my makeup, such as a broken nose.

Spencer was really sharp, very funny. Always smiling.

We both worked on “RoboCop” – him as an actor and me as a grip. When we worked together later, we sometimes made RoboCop jokes, quoting funny lines, etc. I'm sure others on the crew had no idea what we were talking about.


Scooter


Scooter

1980s-1990s

Border Collie, most amazing dog we ever had.

Would literally fetch anything.
If you threw something into the pond, he would swim out after it and bring it back.

In one of my films in 1984, he drove a car. I could "pose" him in the driver's seat, and he would stay there while I got the shot.

He earned his keep by helping my dad herd cows. It was awe-inspiring to watch him work.
Dad always said this one dog could do the work of three men.


Tuffy and Friend, Late 70s


Tuffy

August 16, 1969 - October 1982

One of two surviving puppies in a litter of nine.
The rest were killed by hookworms.

For many years, he was my best friend.

Very protective, he would sometimes bite other people, but never me.

He had a running feud with Sandy, the dog next door. One day he got out while our neighbor was taking Sandy for a walk. He jumped on Sandy, big fight. I ran out & picked him up by the hair on his back & carried him back to our yard. No way he'd let anybody do that but me.

He finally succumbed to heartworms at the age of 13.

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