Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
In all phases of his life, Hugh Witemeyer displayed a aptitude for the dramatic, or comedic, a love for the stage and an viewers.
Witemeyer as soon as devised a manufacturing to mark the retirement of two College of New Mexico English Division colleagues.
“He created a parody of a James Bond film about the kidnapping of the apostrophe from the world of letters,” James Thorson, retired UNM English professor, wrote in a latest tribute to Witemeyer. “Accompanied by a self-dubbed audio pastiche of Bond music, the comedy, the parts played by English faculty members, proved vastly entertaining to a standing-room-only audience in the theater of the English Department.”
When Witemeyer himself retired from UNM in 2004, he plunged into the world of neighborhood theater.
“He just seemed to be doing it all the time,” Witemeyer’s spouse, Barbara, mentioned. “I was a theater widow. He was in ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner,’ ‘Anatomy of a Murder,’ ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ ‘Gross Indecency,’ ‘Copenhagen’ for the Adobe Theater, ‘White Christmas’ twice. He was the Starkeeper in ‘Carousel,’ and played the doctor in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and Marley in ‘A Christmas Carol.’ He worked with the Vortex, the Adobe, Albuquerque Little Theater and Desert Rose.”
Lately, as his well being declined, Witemeyer was unable to carry out. However his love for theater remained strong.
In April, when the Vortex Theater had its first in-person efficiency for the reason that pandemic began, Hugh and Barbara attended the opening-night manufacturing of the play “Trevor.”
“He was very into the play,” Barbara mentioned. “He was not as outgoing as he once was, but he was very pleased when people talked to him. He enjoyed being there.”
After a brief sickness, Witemeyer died on Could 1 at his Albuquerque house. He was 82.
Survivors embody his spouse, Barbara; his daughter, Hazen Witemeyer; his brother, Wayne Witemeyer, and sister-in-law, Hilda; Barbara’s kids and grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
Gentleman and scholar
Witemeyer was born in Flint, Michigan, on June 10, 1939.
He earned levels from the College of Michigan and Oxford College, and a doctorate from Princeton College. He taught for a number of years on the College of California at Berkeley earlier than coming to UNM, the place he was a part of the English Division college for greater than 40 years, and authored books and articles.
“His first book, ‘The Poetry of Ezra Pound: Forms and Renewals’ (1969), reveals a fine literary critical intelligence at work on one of the most difficult and controversial American poets of the 20th century,” Thorson wrote in his tribute. “His second book, ‘George Eliot and the Visual Arts’ (1979) … demonstrated his critical abilities across artistic genres on the work of one of the greatest 19th-century English novelists.”
Witemeyer met Barbara, who’s from England, whereas on sabbatical in that nation. He rented a home close to her dad and mom’ house.
“We met in 1984, got married in London in 1987 and I came over here (New Mexico) in 1988,” Barbara mentioned.
Hugh and Barbara had been married 30 years when she nominated him for the AARP Andrus Award for distinctive neighborhood volunteers who’re 50-plus years previous. She famous the numerous committees and boards he served on at UNM, to the good thing about college students and fellow college members; identified that he visited retirement houses and senior facilities with a choir and a radio theater troupe that entertained older folks; that he helped discovered the Albuquerque Theatre Guild; and extra.
“Not a weekly stint at the local museum … perhaps, but when I think of the time and care he has given to many unsung tasks, I think his volunteer work over many years should be recognized,” Barbara wrote in her nomination letter.
That will need to have resonated with the judges as a result of Witemeyer was awarded the Andrus Award in 2018 when he was 79.
Ray Orley valued Witemeyer’s assist in founding the Albuquerque Theatre Guild, an umbrella group made up of Albuquerque reside theater corporations, performers and theater lovers.
Orley, 80, moved to the Denver space a 12 months in the past, however he was energetic in Albuquerque neighborhood theater for a lot of the 2000s. He mentioned that, in 2006, he turned discouraged when a “really good production” he was in drew sparse audiences. He despatched out emails to everybody he knew within the native theater neighborhood in an effort to search out methods theater corporations may work collectively for his or her frequent good, cooperate to convey consideration to an distinctive theater scene.
“Hugh was chief among those who responded,” Orley mentioned. “He was very helpful with things like getting rules written (for the guild) and applying for (nonprofit) status. I truly valued his intellect and I enjoyed his wry sense of humor. He was an erudite gentleman.”
Farewell get together
At 6 ft 4 inches tall, Witemeyer was an imposing determine, even when he was not on stage. Thorson remembers a time a number of many years again when he and Witemeyer had been enjoying golf on UNM’s south golf course.
“A foursome came out of the clubhouse and tried to take the tenth tee ahead of us,” Thorson mentioned. “Hugh was a big man and walked up to the tee with his driver in his hand, and said, ‘Gentleman, I believe it is our tee.’ The other group scattered and we teed off. Hugh was not threatening in any way, but was conscious of his size and dignity.”
Thorson was amongst those that attended the Witemeyers’ annual theme events at their house. They began simply after Barbara got here to this nation from England and continued till Hugh retired from UNM in 2004.
“I was an alien resident when I came over in September 1988, so we had a party where we asked people to come as aliens,” Barbara mentioned. “They came as people from other countries and aliens from outer space. Hugh put on his Princeton (academic) robes, which are orange and black, and a skull mask.”
Thorson remembers particularly the “collections party,” during which folks had been invited to point out off issues they acquire.
“Hugh climaxed the show by showing off his collection of T-shirts, almost all from international meetings of the Ezra Pound Society, of which he was a leading member,” Thorson mentioned. “He had donned several of them and took them off in a kind of impromptu strip tease. He did like an audience. His T-shirt from Pisa was a hit.”
Barbara determined an applicable option to have fun Hugh’s life was to have yet one more theme get together during which family and friends, in individual and by way of Zoom, may share reminiscences of Witemeyer.
“This one is called ‘The Story of Hugh,’” she mentioned.