He was tall, with a sharp wit and a devilish glint in his eye, shining from behind 1980s-style glasses. An astute observer, he used his words sparingly.
At nonprofits, financial donors are a frequent focus of thanks, profiles and featured photos. But this time, I would like to focus on Frank. Because for every organization, there is undoubtedly a Frank who deserves attention and gratitude.
Frank Reynolds volunteered at the Wortham Center for 20 years. He and his beloved wife Barbara were regulars on the usher team, greeting and assisting patrons. They served hard-to-fill roles at daytime performances for school children — greeting buses in the snow, herding thousands of students and entertaining younger children before shows by leading them in sing-alongs.
Inseparable for 61 years, the couple cared deeply about each other and about the theatre. When Barbara, an accomplished seamstress and theatre devotee, saw the uneven coverings used on lobby display tables, she showed up the next week with custom fitted tablecloths. Frank, a talented woodworker, hand-crafted the stands which are used by volunteer ushers to hold tickets and playbills at the theatre entrance doors.
They were quirky, often abrupt and had no problem telling people what they thought. With their passion for the theatre and their long history of service, they knew how things were done and woe to anyone who did not follow the rules — kids who put their feet on the chairs, patrons at the wrong doors or fellow volunteers sporting untucked shirts.
Frank was devoted to Barbara, and when she died suddenly several years ago, he was heartbroken. Though he tried to return to volunteering, he finally admitted that it was not the same without his wife. By this point, Frank was family, and I checked in with him regularly via phone and email.
I saw him last at a chance meeting in a pet store. Frank, this typically quiet man, stood against the swirl of people, puppies and product, and talked to me for almost an hour.
Frank died suddenly in December at age 90. Through my tears at the news, I had to smile imagining Barbara stomping her foot at him and grumbling, “What took you so long?”
For every check received, every vital donation keeping an organization alive, there is also a Frank — a dedicated volunteer whose contributions to the organization and impressions on our hearts become immeasurable. We are indebted to you.
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts
Published in the January 2021 issue of SHIFT