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"PLU" 2003 Obituary


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PLUM o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-30 published
PLUM, Gerald E., Ph.D.
Dr. Gerald PLUM, psychologist, died in the early hours of Boxing Day, 2003. His daughter Terra and partner Penny LOUBE were with him. Gerry was born in Detroit in 1934 and raised in Farmington, Michigan. He was a man of many gifts, both intellectual and physical. He was the quarterback of his high school football team and a running back at Wayne State University. He was also a pitcher of considerable ability, scouted in his teens by the New York Giants. A scholar, he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago, where he studied with D.O. Hebb, Carl Rogers and Bruno Bettelheim. In 1965, he moved with his young family to British Columbia and taught psychology for a number of years at the University of British Columbia. Later, he taught at King's College in London until his retirement seven years ago. At King's, he served as head of the Social Work Program and Chairman of the psychology department. He also conducted a private practice for many years, and was a consultant to Search, a community mental health project in Strathroy. Gerry was a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario and British Columbia. He was a member of the Michigan Bioenergetics Society and studied at The Gestalt Institute of Toronto. Following his retirement, Gerry pursued in earnest his life-long interest in drama. He acted in several plays in London, including Shakespeare and musical comedies. For his performance in his final role, he was presented with an adjudicator's special award. In his spare time, Gerry renovated a farmhouse near Mt. Brydges, canoed the Nahanni River, and bicycled from Vancouver to Michigan for his 30th high school reunion. In addition to Penny and Terra, Gerry is survived by his sons Dan and Judd, his brother Tom, his father Irving, and nieces and nephews. His mother Opal died earlier this year, and he lost his beloved son Randy in 1985. Gerry will be sorely missed by many close Friends, associates, and those he served over his long, productive career. Visitation was held Monday, December 29 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at Denning Brothers Fuenral Home, 32 Metcalfe Street West, Strathroy. Funeral service at that location on December 30 at 11 a.m., Reverend Clarence CROSSMAN officiating.

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PLUMMER o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-10-16 published
Father figure to the Canadian stage
British-trained Stratford character actor never craved starring roles
By Allison LAWLOR, Special to The Globe and Mail, Thursday, October 16, 2003 - Page R11
For Mervyn " Butch" BLAKE, entering a theatre was a magical experience, something he never tired of during an acting career that spanned close to three-quarters of a century. Mr. BLAKE, one of the most loved members of the Stratford Festival Company, died on October 9 at a Toronto nursing home after a long illness. He was 95.
"Theatre seems to give me life," Mr. BLAKE said in 1994. "I just feel marvellous when I enter the theatre... it's one of the things which keeps me going."
Over his long stage life that included 42 consecutive seasons with the Stratford Festival of Canada, Mr. BLAKE "had the distinction of playing in every single play of Shakespeare's," said Richard MONETTE, Stratford's artistic director.
"He had a great life in the theatre," Mr. MONETTE said.
Adored by both audiences and fellow actors, the veteran actor was known across Canada for his enormous talent and generosity of spirit. When he wasn't working at Stratford, he acted on the country's major stages and in television and film.
For seven seasons, he toured with the Canadian Players, bringing professional theatre to smaller towns. And in 1987, he won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for best performance in a featured role in a production of Saturday, Sunday, Monday at what was then called CentreStage (now CanStage).
"Everyone loved Butch without exception," said John NEVILLE, a former Stratford's artistic director.
Mervyn BLAKE was born on November 30, 1907, in Dehra Dun, India, where his father was a railway executive.
His father wanted him to become an engineer but after falling in love with the theatre, Mr. BLAKE was able to persuade his father to allow him to study at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In 1932, he graduated and soon made his professional stage debut at the Embassy Theatre in London
During the Second World War, he served in the British Army as a driver. It was during the war years that he is said to have got his nickname Butch. A witness to the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Mr. BLAKE was present at the liberation of the camp by British troops. It was an experience that haunted him for the rest of his life.
At the war's end, he returned to England and to the stage. He married actress Christine BENNETT and spent the years between 1952 and 1955 at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. There he worked with many of the great British actors such as Sir Laurence OLIVIER, Sir Michael REDGRAVE and Dame Peggy ASHCROFT.
Despite his success on the British stage, he decided to join the Stratford Festival of Canada, then in its fifth season. With his family in tow, Mr. BLAKE moved to Canada and in 1957 appeared in a production of Hamlet with Christopher PLUMMER in the title role.
"He wasn't a leading actor," said actor and director Douglas CAMPBELL. "He was a supporting player. As a supporting player you couldn't get better."
Mr. BLAKE always saw himself as a character actor who never cared that much about starring roles, said Audrey ASHLEY, a former Ottawa Citizen theatre critic and author of Mr. BLAKE's 1999 biography With Love from Butch.
"He was one of those actors you never had to worry about," Ms. ASHLEY said. "You knew Butch was always going to do a good job."
Known for his unfailing good nature and even temper, he enjoyed re-telling gaffes he had made on stage. Mr. MONETTE remembers one performance where Mr. BLAKE appeared on stage as the Sea Captain in Twelfth Night. The character Viola asks him, "What country, Friends, is this?" And instead of responding "This is Illyria, lady." Out of his mouth popped, "This is Orillia."
To the younger actors at Stratford, Mr. BLAKE was a father figure. "He was very fond of the young actors and would take them under his wing," Ms. ASHLEY said.
Stephen RUSSELL remembers arriving at Stratford for his first season in the mid-1970s. He was placed in the same dressing room as Mr. BLAKE, an experience he still holds close to his heart.
"He was one of the most generous human beings," Mr. RUSSELL said.
One of the areas Mr. BLAKE was most helpful in was teaching fellow actors how to apply stage makeup. He loved makeup and on his dressing-room table he had an old rabbit's foot that he would use to apply his face powder, Mr. RUSSELL said.
Aging didn't stop him from applying his own elaborate makeup. Playing the role of old Adam in As You Like It required him to go through the same makeup ritual when he was 70 years old as it did when he performed the role years earlier as a much younger man.
Aside from the stage, one of Mr. BLAKE's passions was cricket. During his first season in Stratford, he played on the festival's team and was responsible for starting a friendly, annual cricket match against the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Each season, members of the two acting companies would come together for a civilized afternoon of cricket and tea. The Stratford team still goes by the name of Blake's Blokes.
In honour of his talent and dedication to the theatre, Mr. BLAKE was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in May, 1995.
"When he entered, the stage just lit up," Mr. RUSSELL said.
Mr. BLAKE leaves his wife Christine BENNETT; children Andrew and Bridget; and stepson Tim DAVISSON.
Details of a memorial service to be held in Stratford, Ontario, have yet to be announced.

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