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.
Written by Ladd Gasparovic
It's with great sadness we announce that our loving, energetic, larger-than- life mother, Nancy Hardin Gasparovic, passed away yesterday in Fredericksburg, VA.
My sister Shannon Gasparovic Christianson and I couldn't have asked for a better mom to raise us and show us what it looked like to succeed in faith, family and in life.
Our children- her grandchildren - couldn't have asked for a "Gigi" to love them more or have more fun with them. Nancy- our mom- was one of a kind. She was the eternal optimist. An always positive force in life that always made things more fun and more interesting! She loved fiercely and deeply - not just our family - but her VAST "extended family" of friends (many of whom we've never even met) that was always and still growing. She never met a stranger! She always made things more fun. She had incredible energy and she could still keep up with the best of them even into her 70's!
She grew up in Beech Creek KY in a house that didn't have indoor plumbing. She won beauty pageants and scholarships to attend college (a first in her family), and put herself on a path to become an extremely successful woman in family, business, life, and in her faith. She put others first all the time. She changed not only her trajectory in life but the rest of her family and impacted and influenced so so many more.
The world is definitely a better place because Nancy Hardin Gasparovic lived in it while she did. She played life BIG while she was here, helping so many people and always giving back to the community and to others in need. She was always helping others. Always.
She taught us and SHOWED us that we could do anything... ANYTHING. And she believed we could. And we believed it because we watched her live life fearlessly and accomplish so many things not just for her or our family, but for others and the community.
I'll miss my mom in so many ways. I owe so much gratitude of who I am and what I have to her influence and passion for life. She was our choir director. She was our music teacher in school. She was so much to so many. She cut a wide path and a deep path.
Most important of all, she's always been a believer- a true Christian. She loved the Lord, and we know she's in heaven wrapped in His arms. She wasn't scared to die. I won't say that she was ready to go, because she loved life so much and I know she would've wanted to hang around longer to watch her grandkids grow older and graduate college and to have more fun in this world. But I can tell you from the conversations we had this year about the ** 2020/pandemic/murder hornets/"is the world possibly ending?"** environment we've been in, she and I had conversations specifically about dying. She told me that if the Lord was really coming in 2020, that she was ready to go! She wasn't scared to die because her faith was strong and she knew who she belonged to. I have faith because she did first and we're continuing to create the generational faith in our family that she helped grow and strengthen. That's a true legacy.
What's the hardest part of losing her now? Those who know her know this... she loved PEOPLE and PARTIES! Her service would've never been a small, stuffy funeral, but a massive Celebration of Life!... A party to celebrate a life that was very well lived. Obviously with COVID and health and safety precautions we won't be able to give her that huge celebration at this time. But it will happen, we promise, when it's safe and possible. And it'll be exactly what she would have wanted: Her friends and family and those who love her, being together, having fun, sharing laughs and memories, making new memories, and sharing the love and joy that life offers us when we share it together.
It sounds cliché, but tell your family and friends you love them. I would give anything to hang out with my mom one more time. But I do know that the last time I spoke to her I ended the call telling her I love her. We always did that. And I know she knew she was loved by me, Shannon and our families, and all of you. And I know she knew she was loved by and belonged to the Lord.
Mom, Rest In Peace. We wish you were here longer with us, but we'll go on without you in this world in the way you'd want us to, and we'll continue to live life and create memories and adventures and help others and continue to honor you, our faith and your legacy in all we do.
Longtime PTP member Patricia “Pat” McConkey was a woman who was full of fire and her spirit always shone brightly through. Pat possessed a love of the fine arts throughout her whole span of life and loved to express this love mainly in singing and acting. She actively participated in many groups during her time in Southern Maryland. Shortly after arriving in Prince George’s county in 1976, Pat became a member of the a cappella women’s barbershop harmony group, The Sweet Adelines. She was a part of the Sweet Adelines for many, many years. She was very proud to be part of an international organization dedicated to preserving the unique sound of a cappella barbershop harmony. She was also a participant in the Senior Idol competitions in Prince George County in the 2000s.
Pat also participated as a soprano singer in the Chesapeake Choral Arts Society (CCAS) from the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2017. Pat performed many great works in her tenure with the choir, singing in such pieces as “The Magnificat” by John Rutter, Handel’s “Messiah,” and “Requiem” pieces by both Rutter and Brahms. Pat particularly enjoyed the ‘Pops’ concerts performed by the choir, where she could allow her spirit to show with solo performances such as Kids from Bye, Bye Birdie, The Firefly, from Ogden Nash’s Animal Crackers, and The Thing-Ummy Bob (That’s Going to Win the War), by Gordon Thompson and David Heneker. A highlight of Pat’s singing career was when she had the chance to perform in Vienna, Austria and in Prague, Czech Republic as part of a vocal tour with Pilgrim Church, Church of Christ which included members of CCAS. Pat was also active in many summer vocal workshops in the 80s and 90s, hosted at Port Tobacco Players theater.
In 1981 Pat, along with her son Michael Santana, became part of the Port Tobacco Players performing theater group, with her first show being “A Christmas Carol”. In 2002, Pat was nominated for a The Washington Area Theatre Community Honors (WATCH) award for Outstanding Cameo in a Play, for her role as “Gay Wellington” in You Can't Take It With You. During her time with PTP, Pat performed in several shows at the Black Box theater in Indian Head MD and was one of the last original members of PTP’s Encore Adults group, a local traveling troupe sponsored by PTP, performing from the 1980s to the 2010s. Working to continue the spread of viewership for the arts, Pat participated in the Center Stars touring show from the Richard R. Clark Senior Center in her later years. She sang in the troupe with the Silver Tones and also played hand bells for the group.
Pat was also an active participant in the community theater group located at the College of Southern Maryland, where she worked regularly with CSM staff members Emmitt Woodey and Keith Hight, largely in musical theater productions. Other groups in which Pat spent time in theater include the Tantallon Community Players, in Fort Washington Maryland, where she performed in a variety of shows from 1980 to the early 2000s.
She will be sorely missed in the performing arts world of Southern Maryland.