World famous actor and Newport resident David Ogden Stiers has died peacefully in his home from cancer. Stiers was best known for portraying a surgeon in the wildly popular 4077 M*A*S*H television series over thirty years ago.
Stiers was a frequent guest conductor for the Newport Symphony Orchestra and fans delighted in his humorously dry interactions with the audience.
Here’s the story in The Oregonian. Click here.
Those who knew or had the pleasure of being acquainted with Mr. Stiers, or perhaps would like to offer a comment on their memories of this exquisitely accomplished actor and performer, please send them to:
Comments on the passing of David Ogden Stiers
Sadly a giant of a man has left us. I have known David for over 30 years. He was family in the sense that Aunt Muriel Ogden Newsam, a dear friend and longtime member of the Very Little Theatre, and David were the actors in the family. David, after leaving Eugene to study acting, would return frequently to visit his parents and his aunts, Muriel and Louise.
In 1991, David and I (and Michael Gross and his wife) put together a benefit for the Very Little Theatre featuring Love Letters, which he cast with one of the actresses from the membership of the Very Little Theatre. In community theatre circles, David was Muriel’s nephew, who frequently did major benefits for the cultural community of Eugene. He and the Geltners looked after Aunt Muriel in her final years in Eugene. David graciously served as the MC for my wife’s (Jo Maitland Geltner) memorial in 2008. In addition to being the Associate Conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra, he was also active during the years of the Ernest Bloch Music Festival. In 2009 when we were looking to preserve Ernest Bloch’s legacy through the purchase of his former home in Agate Beach, David lent his voice-over talents to a video about Ernest Bloch. Over his final years David performed his annual Christmas Program, which included readings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
We will miss seeing his imposing figure grace the stage of the Newport Performing Arts Center.
Frank Jo Maitland Geltner
I first met David back when he he had just moved to the area. My family was in the still in the grocery business in Waldport back then and David used to come in late in the evening to shop. The first time I waited on him I addressed him as Mr. Stiers and he corrected me and said it’s just David. He preferred evenings so that he didn’t have to deal with all of the celebrity stuff. He wasn’t snooty about it, he just wanted to live as quietly as possible. We instructed all of our employees to just treat him like everyone else and not bombard him with Hollywood questions.
I remember one Thanksgiving day, we were only open a few hours that day. I had just gotten closed. All of the checkers were gone and everything was locked and covered up and I heard a tapping on the doors. I looked up and it was David looking very fore lorn. I opened the door and he told me he’d ruined his meal and could he please come in and quickly shop for something else. How could I say no. I would have done that for anyone but he was very appreciative.
I also had the good fortune to sing for him once when was conducting the orchestra at the PAC. It was on very short notice and while it was a small part, he was extremely patient while I muddled through learning my entrance.
He was a wonderful man, larger than life and yet just like the rest of us. I’ll miss him.
I remember David Ogden Stiers as a very warm, intelligent and sensitive man who truly “became one” with his craft. He’d come in to a room as himself – bright, full of energy and genuinely affable. But when my video camera was turned on he was all business – like a very large switch had been flipped. In performing for an audition for an upcoming movie, he went from being wonderfully David to an arrogant condescending corporate tyrant spewing orders to a completely aghast vice president of the firm. As I kept David properly framed in the camera, I kept asking myself, where did David go!? It looked like David and sounded a “little bit” like David, but he’d been completely body snatched! When his lines were done he paused, and after a moment, David was back – as if an exorcism had been performed live on camera!
David was a highly accomplished and amazingly versatile actor who could convince you one minute he was a pauper on a gloomy cobbled street of 14th century London – turn his back – then whirl around and be the best Korean War army surgeon who made you laugh. David mastered so many well-studied lives on stage and in cinema that he truly experienced the depth and breadth of the human experience – enjoying many lives worth living. And he gave them all to us – even while taking time out to conduct the Newport Symphony with the precious gift of music.
David Ogden Stiers, a life well orchestrated for 75 years.
David Morgan, NewsLincolnCounty.com
On September 24, 1982, the then brand new Hult Center for the Performing Arts was opened in Eugene, and my wife and I were in attendance, and the Master of Ceremonies was David Ogden Stiers. The uniform of the day was formal, and the only men’s formal I had was my Navy Mess Dress (with small medals and decorations), and as I was being greeted by David, he said something to me like “aren’t we special” or something like that. I was the Lane County Assessor and Tax Collector at the time, and we were thrilled to have his wonderful personality at the opening of our new performing arts facility.
I was taken with his generosity and sense of purpose later when he approached me in the Mayor’s office here in Newport to plead his case to me for the Teen Court which had been on his list as a special project, but had become de-funded in a difficult time for the enforcement teams here, but he was very persuasive and I believe the project somehow got some attention. He was gracious, yet persistent with his request. What a fine gentleman he was. Long live David…!
Bill Bain, Mayor of Newport 2005 to 2010 (and retired Navy Supply Corps Captain)
I understand that the time for comments related to the passing of David Ogden Stiers has passed, but I would like to add some information to the conversation if I may. Past Mayor Bill Bain wondered what happened with the development of Teen Court, one of Mr. Ogden Stiers’ “special projects.”
Our Teen Court was cut from the County’s budget in 2009. I had begun the Teen Court in 1995 and it had a successful run. Mr Ogden Stiers was concerned for our youth that would benefit from a diversion program rather than going through the formal juvenile justice system. These diversion programs are called “restorative justice.”
In 2013, the Partnership Against Alcohol & Drug Abuse (PAADA) received a federal Drug Free Communities grant and was able to use the majority of these funds to re-create the Teen Court. I was hired by PAADA to do this for Lincoln County youth. I had the benefit of looking back at the Teen Court, and the ability to update it with best practices in restorative justice. The program became Teen Justice Panels; a circle process for holding youth meaningfully accountable, connecting them to community, and teaching life skills.
Mr Ogden Stiers met with me in 2013 and was intrigued with the process. He told me he used a circle process to communicate with and educate young actors and musicians. From that point on he supported the program financially as well as intellectually and lent his hand to develop the program we have today.
He was always genuine, supportive, and compassionate in our conversations. I had with him. He was truly interested in helping youth. In my last conversation with him he expressed his interest in what we (PAADA and Lincoln Community Dispute Resolution) are doing to introduce restorative practices in our schools. Unfortunately we didn’t have an opportunity for the update on our progress. He was a great man and left a legacy of helping youth in our community.
Mindy Baxter, Coordinator
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAMS of Lincoln County
PO Box 2401, Newport Oregon 97365
541-574-2995 PAADA http//PAADA.org