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
Port Tobacco Players mourns the passing of Bridget Masin O'Neill, a wonderful actor who has graced our stage, on April 12, 2021 in Charlottesville, VA.
Bridget was born May 31, 1936, in Sayville, New York, the third daughter of Joseph Anthony Masin and Eileen Vunck Masin. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Gordon A. O’Neill, Jr., her sisters Joan Wauhop and Mary Ellen Gregory, and her daughter Mary Egan O’Neill. She is survived by her other children and their spouses, Eileen and Jeff Early of Madison, VA, Gordon and Nancy O’Neill of Lloyd Point, MD, Sally and Clay Bailey of Nashville, TN, Joseph and Ginger O’Neill of Charlotte Hall, MD, and Peter O’Neill of Annapolis, MD; and also by eleven grandchildren, Sarah Early Zeitler, Meg Early, Gordon, Alex, and Anna O’Neill, Bridget, Ferriss, and Charlie Bailey, Masin Drury, and Hannah and Haley O’Neill. She loved all of her grandchildren dearly and spoiled them as best she could.
Bridget earned her nursing degree from Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing in 1957, and after working for 2 years in Northern Virginia, she married Gordon and moved to Charles County. She returned to nursing around 1980, working at Physicians Memorial (Civista) Hospital in LaPlata, Maryland, for over 30 years and was beloved by her colleagues and patients alike. She also found a passion for theater through the Port Tobacco Players, also dragging Gordon onto the stage. Together they participated in and supported this community theater for many years and made many good friends along the way. Bridget also found great satisfaction from gardening, entertaining family and friends, and decorating for the Christmas holidays at their historic home, Mount Republican. She enjoyed life to the fullest and as she often said, “If we had to go now, we’ve had a good time.”
A Mass of Christian Burial will be said at Holy Ghost Catholic Church, 15848 Rock Point Road, Newburg, MD on Saturday, May 1 at 11:00 am.
Per COVID-19 guidelines, masks must be worn at the service, and social distancing practiced.
A private burial and gathering of family will follow the service.
Memorials may be made to the Port Tobacco Players, P. O. Box 2030, La Plata, MD 20646-2030 or online at www.ptplayers.com/donate.html or the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, 1850 York Road, Suite D, Timonium, MD 21093 or online at www.alz.org/maryland .
Port Tobacco Players mourns the passing of Rolland Oliver “Rollie” Hower, a former scenic designer/illustrator for PTP, on November 25, 2020 from cancer. Born in Fremont, Ohio June 14, 1928, the son of Oliver Nelson Hower and Maud Isabel (Stafford). He attended Toledo University from 1948-52, later achieving a Ph.D. in Cryobiology in 1977. He married Harryette R. Bradley on October 27, 1951. He worked as a Draftsman Illustrator for A.O. Smith Corp. Toledo, Ohio in 1951. He worked as an Exhibits Designer for The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. at The National Museum of Natural History, 1951-56, Chief of Research 1956-64, Chief of Exhibits 1964-74, Freeze-Dry Lab Chief 1975-83. He was a long-term substitute for Charles County Public Schools, La Plata High School, Science Department 1984-89. He served as adviser to the Port Tobacco Museum, Port Tobacco, Maryland and the Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, DC.
His PTP career was robust. In 1981 he painted the showcase and created the program cover art for Carousel and California Suite. 1982 he did the same for Fiddler on the Roof, The Wiz, and Destry Rides Again. In 1983 he also did the program cover and poster for My Fair Lady and Trish Kissick (Eliza Doolittle) sat for the double portrait. In 1984 he did the poster and program cover for “An Evening of One Acts,” The Sound of Music, Bye, Bye Birdie, Company and Mister Scrooge. In 1985 he painted the showcase for Charlie’s Aunt, Hello, Dolly (Lil Medas, as Dolly Levi, sat for the portrait) and Bell, Book and Candle. 1986 had him painting the showcase for Love, Sex and the IRS. In 1987 he painted the showcase for Mame (Connie Stewart, as Mame, sat for the portrait), Hot L Baltimore, Our “40th Anniversary Show of Shows” and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (his son Craig, as Joseph, sat for the portrait). In 1988 he designed the set for Show Boat and Arsenic and Old Lace and designed the showcase and program cover for A Christmas Carol. In 1992 he made his stage debut in South Pacific as an attendee of Emile de Becque’s party because “He owned his own tux.” He also painted the showcase and did the program cover for The Best Little Whore House in Texas. In 1993 he was special effects and weapons master for Deathtrap the scenic painter for A Walk in The Woods and in 1995 he was one of the scenic painters on Big River. In 1997 he acted as “Death Consultant” on Ten Little Indians coaching the cast in the different ways they would react to poisons. In 1998 he did the scenic painting for The Homecoming. In 2000 he was the set designer for The Diary of Anne Frank and since he was traveling through Europe he made a point of stopping by the “Hidden Annex” in Amsterdam and extensively photographing it so that our set could have a chillingly accurate look and feel. In 2001 he designed and painted the set for Laura, as well as painting the portrait of Laura for the mantle (Patricia Penn sat for the portrait). And in 2005 he designed the set for Singin’ in the Rain. Throughout the years he consulted on weaponry and supplied firearms for various other productions including Getting Away with Murder in 2003 and 1776 in 2004.
He is proceeded by his parents and son Nelson and survived by his wife of 69 years Harryette, sons Cary (Kristen), Chuck, Bradley, Craig, daughter Dawn, sister Bobbie Luckart of Cape Coral, Florida, thirteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren. In lieu of flowers please make donations to La Plata United Methodist Church, 3 Port Tobacco Road, La Plata, Maryland, 20646 or Hospice of Charles County, 2505 Davis Drive, Waldorf, Maryland, 20603.
Online condolences may be shared with the family at arehartechols.com.
Harrieton “Mike” L. Merritt, 93, of LaPlata, MD -- known to many in the PTP community simply as Mr. Merritt -- passed away on October 30, 2020 at the Charlotte Hall Veteran’s Home.
Born on April 26, 1927 in Smithville, WV to the late John and Verbia Merritt, he is also preceded in death by his second wife, Carol Merritt; brother, J. Kester Merritt; sister, Maxie G. Seabolt. Mike is survived by his first wife, Ruby Godfrey; sons, Gary Merritt (Dulce), John Merritt and Jeffrey Merritt (Beverly); daughter, Susan Rison (Charles); brother, Ken Merritt; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Mike proudly served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He was employed as a Teacher and later as Assistant Superintendent for Charles Co. Board of Education. He was a devoted member of the LaPlata United Methodist Church, a Mason and Lion’s Club member. Mike will be missed dearly but never forgotten by those he loved and those who knew him.
The family will receive friends at the United Methodist Church (3 Port Tobacco Rd., LaPlata, MD) on Thursday from 5PM to 7PM, with a private family Service. A Graveside Service will be held at Ellenboro Masonic Cemetery in West Virginia.
In Lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, LaPlata United Methodist Church Food Bank or the Harrieton L. “Mike” Merritt Scholarship Fund (P.O. Box 1228 LaPlata, MD 20646)
Service will be streamed on Facebook live at La PlataUmc. Due to our nation’s pandemic, CDC protocol shall be followed requiring masks for all guests and social distancing. Online condolences may be shared at arehartechols.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Harrieton "Mike" L. Merritt, please visit the Arehart-Echols Funeral Home floral store.