Gary Lee Maker, a gentle, sensitive man, full of warmth and good humor, was a passionate supporter of Washington area theatre. He could often be seen in the audience with his long time partner Paul Desmarais, and, after, in the lobby, giving words of encouragement to artists and producers. He died February 17, 2011 at the age of 68.
Born in San Francisco, California, Gary served in the US Navy from 1964–1978, including four years in Naples, Italy where he acted, directed and became president of the Naples Little Theater. Moving to Washington after discharge, he was manager of area movie theaters and a Capitol Hill bookseller.
Gary and Paul shared their love for theatre, music and art with artists and audiences. Gary kept up a busy correspondence which grew, as the theatre community grew, from hundreds who received personal cards to thousands reached through emails.
Paul Desmarais died in December, 2006, and soon after Gary was struck by the first of several cancers which weakened and ultimately defeated his body. Gary, who often referred to himself as “this old sailor”, was indomitable to the end. In his last days, unable to speak, he was busy writing notes to connect and encourage artists.
The life of Gary Lee Maker is a reminder that theatre cannot exist without the love, commitment and support of its audiences.
In honor of Gary, and others like him who lend their support from the other side of the footlights, DC Theatre Scene has created the Gary Lee Maker Award, to be presented annually to one outstanding audience member.