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.
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