May 31, 2007



Jean Hooper

Jean Hooper, well-known area performer, theatre director and founder of Yellow Springs Center Stage theater, died suddenly May 23, after complications from surgery. She was 79.

Alice Jean Goff was born Nov. 5, 1927, in Dayton to William Goff and Dorothy MacDonald Goff. Her father worked at Frigidaire and her mother was a homemaker. Jean developed an interest in theater at a very young age, putting on shows in her backyard for neighborhood kids, using a sheet hung over a clothesline as a curtain.

After graduating from Roosevelt High School, Jean and two high-school friends hatched a plan to get to Los Angeles, the center of the film industry. The three went to work as telephone operators in Dayton, but soon arranged transfers to the West Coast. A short time after arriving in California, Jean got a job as a script girl and messenger at MGM studios and began studying acting with Charles Laughton at the Pasadena Playhouse. She heard about the Antioch Area Theater while there and auditioned during a visit to her family in Dayton.

She joined the company performing in the Yellow Springs Opera House in the summer of 1948. During her first show, she struck up a friendship with the former technical director of the theater, Bill Hooper, an Antioch College student. He became her husband on Oct. 25, 1949, in Yellow Springs.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Jean appeared in productions at the Antioch Area Theatre, Antioch Shakespeare Festival and the Springfield Civic Theater, and was one of the founders of the Trotwood Circle Theatre. By the late 1960s, with the decline of the Shakespeare Festival and the college’s decision to use primarily student actors, Jean saw fewer and fewer theater opportunities in Yellow Springs. In 1971, she led a group of theater enthusiasts and Center Stage was born.

In the beginning, Jean directed Center Stage’s productions in the former John Bryan High School gym until the theater moved into its own space in a former automobile showroom on Dayton Street in Yellow Springs. Unusually successful for a community theatre, Center Stage put on five or six productions each season and was best known for annual presentations of Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. By the time Center Stage had finished its run, Jean had directed every Gilbert and Sullivan ever written, including several seldom-produced works.

Center Stage drew many participants from the community as well as from all over the surrounding area. Productions were often a family affair with sometimes as many as 70 working together to mount a show: acting, singing, making music, building sets and sewing costumes. All were volunteers, including Jean, and Center Stage operated for more than 30 years before finally closing its doors in 2004.

In a 1996 interview in the Yellow Springs News, Jean recalled performing in notable village venues including the Little Art Theatre. “Did you ever see the Little Art with the lights on?” she said. “There is no stage. And the doors that lead off stage go directly outside. We’d have cars out there for our ‘wings.’” She described entering and exiting the stage on rainy show nights, hurrying under umbrellas to heated cars while stagehands waited in the rain to cue their returns.

She also found time to get involved in other community activities, including teaching drama to local high school students and fundraising to build the Yellow Springs pool at Gaunt Park. She also hosted a radio program for children on WYSO-FM and adapted the story “Many Moons” for the stage for which she received a personal letter of permission and approval from its author, James Thurber. Later in her career, Jean acted with Mad River Theatre Works, Ohio’s only rural professional theater, based in the nearby town of West Liberty, and in more recent years, worked as the marketing director.

Jean was predeceased by three brothers, Donald H. Goff, Robert L. Goff and Vernon Goff.

She is survived by her husband of 57 years, William Hooper; a son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Suzan Hooper of West Liberty, and a daughter and son-in-law, Adeline Hooper and Sam Samuels of Brattleboro, Vt.; by three grandsons, Bill Hooper, Ben Hooper and Jack Hooper Samuels, and a granddaughter, Miranda Hooper Samuels.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m., July 14, at the Glen Helen Building, 405 Corry Street in Yellow Springs. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Yellow Springs Community Foundation.

Kenneth Coffman

Kenneth W. Coffman died on May 6, surrounded by his loving family at Hospice Care Center in Loveland, Colo.

Ken was born March 18, 1925, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He graduated from Xenia Central High School in 1943, and entered the Army Dec. 8, 1944. He served three years in World War II, in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and was awarded three bronze battle stars, a victory medal and an Army of Occupation Medal in Japan.

He returned home to Xenia in November of 1946, and met Mary Louise Bertrand in April of 1948. They were married in February 1949.

Ken attended Cincinnati College of Embalming and graduated in August of 1949. He founded the Coffman Funeral Home in Yellow Springs in 1954 and merged with Arthur Lytle in 1964 to form the Jackson, Lytle and Coffman Funeral Homes in both Springfield and Yellow Springs. He was a funeral director for 35 years.

Ken most enjoyed his wife, children and his grandchildren. Other hobbies included golf, bridge, tennis, piloting his Cessna aircraft, motorhome travel and reading.

Ken and his wife retired to Florida in 1982, and moved to Fort Collins, Colo., to be with their family in 2006.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Lou, of Fort Collins; daughter and son-in-law, Marilyn and Edward C. Bonnette; grandchildren, Katie of Boise, Idaho, and Michael Bonnette; daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Larry Steinhauer; and grandson, Andrew Steinhauer, all of Fort Collins; and a sister, Charlene Blocher of Xenia.

A funeral service was held at Bohlender Funeral Chapel, Fort Collins, with burial following at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver with military honors.

Beverly Spalding

Beverly Bond Spalding of Yellow Springs died on May 19, surrounded by her family. She was 76.

Bev was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., on June 9, 1930, the daughter of John and Eileen Bond. She grew up in Bethlehem, Pa., and graduated from Swarthmore College, where she majored in philosophy and mathematics.

After many years as a stay-at-home mother, Beverly began taking computer science classes when her youngest child was a senior in high school. Following two years of course work, at the age of 50, she embarked on a fulfilling career as a computer programmer, retiring 18 years later as a senior analyst.

Aside from her family, Beverly’s great loves were politics and all types of puzzles and games. She read the New York Times every day and particularly enjoyed the Sunday puzzles. She never saw a Sudoku she could resist, or one that she couldn’t successfully complete. Bev cherished family gatherings, where games were always a major activity.

Bev was preceded in death by her parents and brother, John.

Beverly leaves behind her husband of 49 years, George; daughters, Susan of Dallas, Texas, and Sarah (Sally) of Cranbury, N.J.; son, George (Joe) of Edinburgh, Scotland; brother, James Bond; and grandchildren, Nick, Chris, Zack and Rachel.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Lung Association or Hospice of Dayton.