“We Are A Pilgrim People”

Gone From Sight, Not Forgotten

Reprinted from the Show Program of “Oliver!” – July 2009
by Steve Miller, Producer

We are a pilgrim people. Each year new “pilgrims” join us and others move on. We rejoice in the growth we see in our cast, crew and community, and we celebrate their accomplishments. This year, when some of our number passed home to the Lord, it seems fitting to reflect on how they have nurtured us with their gifts of time and talent.

Sue Ellertson ClaeysThe beautiful dresses worn by Cinderella in the ballroom and wedding scenes testify to the love, dedication and quality of ASTRA volunteer, Sue Ellertson Claeys. We found in Sue an accomplished seamstress, who would take on challenging projects and return exquisite beauty. Those who knew her best recognized her warm and loving nature through school, book, sewing and garden clubs; they were witnesses to her caring and giving self radiating in their lives and into the wider community. Throughout her life, Sue demonstrated subtle leadership and an incredible ability to care for others.

Avis DanielsI first got to know Avis as a calming, empathetic, and very competent phlebotomist at Cascade Regional Blood Services (I was on the pointy end of her needles more than once), and only later as a cellist in our orchestra. She retired for medical reasons and was receiving chemotherapy every summer she was involved in our orchestra. She occasionally observed that the “music seems fuzzy,” but she did not let her long battle with cancer define her. Just as her cello enhanced our orchestra, her dedication and wonderful sense of humor positively affected the musicians with whom she played. I dropped in on one orchestra rehearsal and was stunned to see what appeared to be the entire orchestra wearing bandanas. Seems a few wore bandanas to capture unruly hair; Avis had begun wearing one to conceal a bald head; the rest wore bandanas in solidarity with her. Woman of courage, woman of faith, Avis enriched our music and continues to inspire us even now.

Ted SchwabThe awe and beauty of our church improvement project and our sets from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever through Cinderella bear witness to Ted’s gifted craftsmanship, leadership and loving attention to detail. Pressed into service as Franz the Butler in The Sound of Music, Ted continued on stage as Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz and a Salesman in The Music Man. Where others might lapse into frustration or anger, Ted faced adversity with mirth. His humor helped us confront our self illusions; with laughter and a consummate smile, he gently brought us and our endeavors into renewed perspective. Ted taught us to laugh at ourselves so that others might laugh with us.

Click here if you would like to read more about Ted’s contributions to ASTRA and his amazing personal story.

Sue, Avis and Ted—You have enriched our lives; we are better for having known you. Though you have passed from this life and joined the ranks of the Saints Triumphant, we know you are with us as we bring forth the fruits of this year’s labors. Relax and enjoy the show!