Galen Gockel tree dedication
On Sunday, June 19 (Father’s Day) at 6:30pm Oak Park Festival Theatre will honor retired Managing Director and OPFT “godfather” Galen Gockel with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque beneath a tree dedicated to him in Austin Gardens. Austin Gardens is the bucolic home of Festival Theatre’s critically acclaimed and Jeff nominated summer productions, which Gockel’s years as Managing Director protected and promoted. Under Gockel’s oversight, in tandem with then board president Joyce Porter and Artistic Director Jack Hickey, the theatre recovered from near financial collapse. Because of their leadership the company is back on a solid financial footing, hired the very best actors, designers and directors, increased the number of AEA contracts, attracted increased corporate and foundation funding, received critical acclaim from the major dailies and radio stations, received Jeff nominations, and renewed audience enthusiasm. We have gone from a two play summer-only season to a four production year-round season and, in Gockel’s spirit of dedication to the community, made major donations of energy and resources to public service agencies.
Gockel, who has an impressive career in education and public service and who is a former Village Trustee and a much beloved citizen, retired in the fall of 2010. At his retirement celebration he was surprised with the news that a tree in Austin Gardens would be dedicated in his honor. The plaque reads: “In celebration of Galen Gockel, Champion of Oak Park Festival Theatre.” Bravo!
The ceremony takes place in conjunction with one of the theatre’s many “Family Reunions,” when past artist and associates gather to reconnect and see the current production. Sunday’s production will be The History of King Henry the Fourth which runs until July 9.
To learn more about our Family Reunions please email email@example.com.
UPDATE: Here’s video from the event: