Port Tobacco Players mourns the passing of Frederick (Fred) Mower, a wonderful actor who has graced our stage, on May 22 2021 in La Plata, Maryland.
Written by the Mower Family.
Fred was born September 14, 1937 in Washington, DC, the second child of the late Richard Webb Mower and Mary Elizabeth Hager Mower. Fred attended Anacostia High School where he spent many happy summers playing ball at the Anacostia flats. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1956 and was honorably discharged in 1959. While in the Marines, he served as part of the USMC detachment on naval ships, including the U.S.S. Boston and the U.S.S. Intrepid (now a museum in NYC). He visited 22 countries during his service. After attending the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Academy, he served as a DC Police Officer at Precinct No. 10, earning honors and awards, including the Police Officer of the Month. He obtained his Maryland Real Estate Broker’s License and managed St. Charles Realty, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Prudential Real Estate, and established and managed the Waldorf office of Home Towne Real Estate.
Devoting decades of service to the community, Fred was appointed by the Governor to the Great Oaks Advisory Council. He was Chairman of the Board of Public Safety, a member of the Board of Directors of Parks & Recreation, President of the Waldorf Little League, a member of the Board of Trustees of Physicians Memorial Hospital (now the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center), Chairman of the annual Charles County Chamber of Commerce Trade Fair (four years), and a member of the Charles County Board of Appeals for 10 years, serving the last three as Chairman. He was an outstanding athlete and volunteered at Leonard Hall Junior Naval Academy as the basketball coach. One of his favorite pastimes in recent decades was watching the CHASM (Charles and St. Mary’s County) Baseball League.
Fred had a beautiful voice and starred in several musical productions of the Port Tobacco Players. He shaved his head for the role of Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” starred as Beau in “Auntie Mame,” as Bill Sykes in “Oliver,” and Big Julie in “Guys and Dolls.” There is a plaque on the back of a chair at the theater with his name engraved.
Fred was known for his laughter, teasing, and affability. He was quite the character, whether playing Pitch with friends or sharing time with his wife’s Ohio family. He was devoted to his sisters-in-law, Nancy A. Johnson, Linda Johnson Dishon, and Beth Johnson Blauser, as well as to his many nieces, nephews, and two cousins. His many friends meant the world to him. Fred mourned the passing of his family members, sister Elizabeth June Mower White, and brother-in-law Ronald R. Johnson and James L. Dishon, as well as the recent passing of great friends, Norman Garrison and Larry R. Holtz.
Fred is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Scarlett Johnson Mower, his son J. Scott Mower (Suzanne), his daughter Tamara Elizabeth Mower, his granddaughter Katelyn Elizabeth Mower Drvar (Dan), his one-year old great-granddaughter, Riley Suzanne Drvar, and his lifetime friends since kindergarten, Steve Clarke and Jim Reesch. His daughter-in-law, Suzanne, gave him loving care and attention.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at Middleton’s Farm on Maryland Route 5 in Waldorf, Maryland from 2-5PM. All who knew and cared for him are invited to attend.
In lieu of flowers, those who choose may send donations to Holy Angels School, 10450 Ellerbe Road, Shreveport, LA 71106, where Scarlett and Fred’s daughter, Tammy, is in residence. Holy Angels provides programs for the disabled, mentally and physically challenged and was established by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrow.
Port Tobacco Players mourns the passing of Norma Stone Neergaard, a wonderful actor who has graced our stage, on August 2, 2021, after a slow decline.
Written by the Elliott and Thompson families.
She was born on June 23, 1933, to Charles and Minnie Stone in Winchester, Kentucky where she lived until after she met and married Charles Neergaard (died 1990).
Her early days on Boone Avenue in Winchester brought her to the 1st Presbyterian Church where she sang in the choir. There in the back row was her soon to be husband, Charles. They didn’t know one another until they met at a party months later. Norma intentionally rode with a friend expecting to find someone to give her a ride home. Smart and sassy, Norma found Charles. They were married 8 months later.
While living in the Carriage House on Belmont Ave, the couple had two girls. Soon, job changes caused them to move to West Virginia, Marcellus, New York and then LaPlata, Maryland. Always, the first order was to find a church home and sing in the choir. Norma was always willing to lead the children’s choir or play piano. She always had a neighbor or two sending kids over for piano lessons too. Music always filled the house. Norma would say that the most fun was performing with the Marcellus Chorale….especially in the Spring Broadway Review. At every party there was always a group circled around Norma playing the piano singing in harmony.
Norma was an avid golfer. She always remembered fondly the trophy won with Debbie in the Mother-Daughter Tournament.
After her husband passed away, and both daughters married, Norma enjoyed grandparenting the babies that came. She also dusted off her “actress” hat and was cast in several productions of the Port Tobacco Players. With a goal of visiting all 50 states, Norma and friend made big driving trips across the country and met her goal. Eventually, she relocated near her girls in Texas. There she was busy with new friends and the social recreation offered where she lived.
Throughout her career, she was an exceptionally detailed asset to each company. Her earliest profession was as a proofreader for the Winchester Sun and later for the Marcellus Observer. The Law firm of Bryant, O’Dell and Basso in Syracuse, New York hired Norma as a legal secretary. After her move to Maryland, she began work at the Law Office of Merle Turner in LaPlata. Norma also had a side gig as a high school gymnastics judge – she had a detailed, discerning eye.
Norma always put others to shame with her skill at Scrabble and Banana-Grams. The daily crossword puzzles were her morning challenge. She couldn’t start the day without the newspaper and her coffee.
“Nana,” as she became known to the family, was the matriarch. Always at family gatherings, she enjoyed the finer things, like Blue Crab and cheap red wine. She was a fine cook who could make fried chicken and pinto bean soup like no other. In the kitchen, she was known however, for her homemade hot rolls affectionately renamed “Nana’s Buns.”
Having lived through lean times, Norma was a frugal shopper and a coupon-cutter extraordinaire! She enjoyed finding treasures at garage sales and refinishing furniture. Her treasures are now housed in the homes of her daughters….along with the back-stories of each. Additionally, she used her skill in sewing, crochet, and knitting to supplement the wardrobes of her girls. Ask Karin about the knitted pants and top….
Part of Norma and Charles’ household was Norma’s mom, Minnie. Confined to a wheelchair, they took her into their home early in their marriage. They selflessly and lovingly cared for her for nearly 20 years.
Although Norma didn’t want to be a burden, she reluctantly agreed and lived the last 5 years of her life under the loving roof of Karin and Ed. Their willingness and ability to have her there was a gift to her and the rest of the family. For the last year, Norma was cared-for by loving aides provided by “Granny Nannies, Inc”. Especially of note were those at the end.
Norma was preceded in death by her husband, Charles. She is survived by her daughters, Karin Elliott (husband Ed) and Deborah Thompson (husband Scott); grandsons, Ardi Elliott, Bradley Thompson (wife Jessica), Matthew Thompson and Michael Thompson.
An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease sent Norma’s daughters to a free course provided by the James L. West Alzheimer’s Center. This instruction provided a tremendous knowledge base from which to navigate through Norma’s decline. It is a recommended resource! Because of this, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Dementia and Caregiver Education program at www.JamesLWest.org
The Annual Summer Member Meeting is here!
August 22, 2021
Hilltop Pavilion at Gilbert Run Park
2pm - 7:30pm
Member Meeting 4pm
13140 Charles St. , Charlotte Hall
PTP will cover the cost of entrance to the park. Members attending must let the gate attendant know that you are with the Port Tobacco Players party, otherwise you will be charged $5 for admission to the park.
PTP will provide Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. Membership is invited to bring side dishes to share.
PTP will also provide all paper goods, condiments and buns.
We have a beer permit, so membership can bring beer and wine. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.
Can't wait to see you all there!
Recently, one of our members observed a situation involving the potential use of a Suite at the Maryland Blue Crabs by The Port Tobacco Players and brought it to the attention of the Board. In an effort to ascertain the facts, we sent an Email to the Blue Crabs Management Office. During a conversation with Blue Crabs management, we were informed that the suite had been reserved for a private family event and not in association or on behalf of the theater. We were assured that none of the actions by PTP members were inappropriate or reflected poorly on the members or the theater as a whole.
The Board has concluded that no further attention should be paid to this matter.
PTP Board of Directors President
Hello! And welcome to the 6th issue of the PTP Members News! As always, please be sure to let me know if you have anything you would like to include in this forum. If you want to share a special upcoming event involving our members or something theater related that might be of interest to folks, please send me a note at email@example.com,
During the last few months, we have lost 2 more of our beloved members. Bridget O’Neill (and her husband, Gordon) were the backbone of the theater starting in the 60’s. They were instrumental in getting us the lease for the building we currently own. Greg Rumpf has been with theater in recent years, acting, filming, photographing, and being a stalwart participant wherever needed. They will both be sorely missed.
On a happier note, the membership would like to congratulate all our 2021 graduates! Whatever promotion or graduation you are celebrating this year we wish you all the best in your future endeavors! May you continue your love of theater no matter what paths you follow!
The PTP Board met on May 19, 2021.
Financial reports were presented and Mike indicated that we have enough funds to keep us going for about 10.5 months. We have been receiving a lot of donations from our benefactors which are greatly appreciated. Our Scholarship fund is over $69,000. Our total current assets (not counting the building) are over $178,000. Thank you, Mike, for working so hard on grants and low interest loans in order to keep us solvent during this trying time.
A motion was made to require all Board members and production crew-heads to sign the Confidentiality Policy documents prior to working on any on-stage productions. This motion passed.
If you didn’t get to see the interview/conversation that we sponsored with Michael James Scott (Genie from “Aladdin”) you missed a treat! It was a give and take conversation with questions from what does Mr. Scott like in a Music director to how to keep you voice going through 8 shows a week to what’s it like being a person of color on Broadway. His enthusiasm and patience with all our questions was phenomenal! Keep an eye out for our next chat!
Renovations are moving along but extra hands are needed. All skill sets are welcome – construction tasks, painting, moving supplies in and out of storage areas, straightening up as they go along, etc. etc. etc.! Please check out the facilities calendar to see when they are working and ask what you can do to help by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp Mockabee is scheduled to start up again this year on July 26, 2021. Please watch our website and Facebook for details on sessions and know that the number of participants will be limited. Don’t wait until the last minutes to enroll. The cost will remain the same as our last camp. Also, watch for information on COVID precautions being taken/required for attendees and counselors.
Our 2021 Scholarship winners have been announced - Cassie Murphy from McDonough High School and she will attend Nazareth College; Kristen Ging from La Plata High School and will attend Salisbury University; and Claire Voshell from Northern High School and will attend Liberty University. Congratulations to all!
It was agreed that the Theater will reopen for business with our Fall Show. Schedule will be:
12 Angry Men/Jurors – September 24 – October 10, 2021
A Christmas Carol – November 26 – December 19, 2021
Macbeth – January 21 – February 6, 2022
Little Shop of Horrors – March 11 – April 6, 2022
The Importance of Being Earnest – May 6 – May 22, 2022
Beauty and the Beast – July 9 – August 7, 2022
Next Board Meeting will be on June 9, 2021 at 7pm. If you wish to attend as an observer, please let Chris Magee know at email@example.com. If you have any questions that you would like brought up, let me know and I’ll see if we can fit them into the agenda.
Summer membership meeting will be IN PERSON!!!! We will be meeting at Gilbert Run Park on Sunday, August 22 2021. This is assuming, of course, that things don’t deteriorate COVID-wise between now and August, We have reserved the Hilltop Pavillion and are working on the party plans. Looking forward to seeing everyone in person again!
Please remember that all opening/camp/meetings are subject to change should COVID situations change.
Feature of the month – DID YOU KNOW?
That our first production was “Wurzel Flummery” by A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh writer)? It was performed at Brent Hall (Archbishop Neale School Hall) in 1948.
We performed “Inherit the Wind” at the Charles County Courthouse?
Before 1973, we were a travelling troupe and performed all over the County including Smallwood State Park, La Plata High School, Milton Somers School among others?
We used to have an Ice Cream Shop next to the theater? I wonder if it was as good as Landon’s!
Our first show in the theater at 508 Charles Street (which we started leasing in 1973) was “Mary, Mary” and that building was previously the Charles Movie House?
The sound booth used to be the location of our original “Props” room? And that prior to that, it was the location of the concession stand for the movie theater?
The beautiful “star” light that is currently over the seating area was originally directly over our raked stage? That shows you how far back we have expanded! And that that the 2 side exits in the seating area used to be at the back of the stage?
Just before the tornado hit La Plata in 2002, an inspector told us we needed to shore up the Kent Ave. outside wall, because a strong wind would probably take it out? Our theater only sustained minimal damage during the tornado and was used for triage immediately following the tornado.
The “Coming Soon” poster outside our theater when the tornado hit was for our upcoming production of “You Can’t Take It With You”? How ironic is that!
Look for more Did You Know in the next issue and let me know if you have trivia you would like me to include!