Even on nights when theatergoers pack the Lakewood Playhouse, its actors, musicians and staff members will still wish just one more person could be present: their beloved Marcus Walker.
The theater's managing artistic director the past decade lost his battle with metastatic melanoma and died at his home March 11. He was 54.
His absence leaves a painful void in many lives, friends and family say. He was so much more than a title.
"The Lakewood Playhouse lost a mentor, a guide, a hero, a confidant, a wonderful laugh in the room and, above all, a friend," said John Munn, who became the temporary managing artistic director so that the Walker family could spend precious time together.
During the final weeks of his life, Walker reached a meaningful personal goal: The Lakewood Playhouse presented the Northwest premier of "My Name is Asher Lev" to sold-out audiences that gave standing ovations.
Walker's life, distinguished by faith, compassion, service and a love of the arts, began on October 29, 1954, and took shape during a happy childhood spent in the small communities of Ashland, New Hampshire and Laurel, Washington. His years with Lauren Walker, his wife of more than three decades, and sons Reuben and Henry, included travel, adventures, and a lot of good times.
"Marcus Walker was a husband, a father, a minister, an actor, an auctioneer, a director and a peerless inspirational artistic director of the Lakewood Playhouse and one of life's greatest adventurers," Munn added, "and we will miss him more than words can say."
A memorial service will be conducted at Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 North Madison Street in Tacoma on Sunday, March 20, at 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Partners in Health or to the Burton Community Church, P.O. Box 13134, Burton, WA 98013.