Remembering Howard Thies
01.22.13 | 6pm | 5 Comments | Uncategorized

**The memorial planned for March 18 has been postponed due to illness in Howard’s immediate family.  Details on a rescheduled date will be posted here as soon as they are confirmed.

It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Howard Thies, Technical Director for City Parks Foundation’s arts and cultural programs, died Thursday morning, January 17th, at Lutheran Medical Center in Coney Island, Brooklyn.  He was hospitalized the previous afternoon after experiencing difficulties breathing and was heavily sedated for treatment upon admission.  Despite intensive efforts by the medical staff, he suffered heart failure the following morning.

In May 2012, Howard was honored for his 25 years with SummerStage

Howard was truly the heart and soul of the SummerStage festival.  The relationship began in 1987, when he designed the lighting for Ping Chong’s “Astonishment and the Twins,” after

which he was invited to join the festival’s technical crew.  In 2000, he was hired as CPF’s first Technical Director for Arts and Cultural Programs. Before the launch of the 2012 SummerStage season, Howard was honored for entering his twenty-sixth year of service to the festival.  In his capacity as TD, he was instrumental in producing over a thousand performing arts programs across disciplines in Central Park and in smaller neighborhood parks across all five boroughs which touched the lives of millions of New Yorkers.

Prior to joining SummerStage, Howard was the resident lighting designer for La MaMa and originated designs for several troupes and performers, including Blue Man Group, Ridge Theater, Amy and David Sedaris, Andre Serban and The Great Jones Repertory Co.  His many stage credits include the Off-Off-Broadway production of Andre De Shield’s “Harlem Nocturne” and the Broadway production of “Salome,” starring Al Pacino. His work was featured in Lighting Dimensions Magazine, Theater Craft, Architectural Digest and American Theater Magazine.  He was the recipient of two Village Voice OBIE Awards, two New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards, and a Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts fellowship.


Howard, far left, and the SummerStage staff in 2008

Howard will be remembered fondly for his profound passion for the performing arts, his indefatigable work ethic, and his tutelage of a generation of creative technicians.

He is survived by his wife of thirty-three years, Meryl Vladimir; his mother Karin Di Gia; his father, Winthrop Thies; his sisters Brenda Gibney and Melissa Thies; and his brother Danny Di Gia.

  1. Louise P. Sloane said on 1.23.2013

    A great loss to all who knew Howard and Meryl who were makers and doers. Continued attention and out reach to Meryl will get her through this huge loss.

  2. Antonia said on 1.23.2013

    My deepest sympathy to the family and close friends.

  3. Philip Craft said on 1.23.2013

    As a former colleague of Howard’s, I want to join in spirit with everyone at City Parks Foundation in grief for Howard’s passing and remembrance of his excellence as a man, friend, colleague and artist.

    CPF is a great organization, full of great people doing great work. In a community of really dedicated, talented individuals, Howard set the highest standard of professional, artistic and human excellence. He was so committed to the quality of the performing arts produced by CPF, to the quality of the experience of every audience at every venue, and to the well-being of his colleagues. The scope of his effort on all these fronts, caring for so much and so many, is just amazing.

    One of my favorite parts about working at CPF was the time I got to spend talking with and sharing experiences with Howard. He will always be an inspiration to me.

  4. Kevin Connaughton said on 1.31.2013

    I was Howard’s Assistant at SummerStage from 1990 till 2000. Howard was a great boss probably because he didn’t know the meaning of the word. We were partners in crime through sun and rain and everything in between. He was a great Lighting Designer and Technical Director bring all his skills and expertise to the many jobs he had at SummerStage. He was a warm and caring person always with a smile. He will be sorely missed.

  5. Gerald Thomas said on 2.4.2013

    Very very sad. Found out via Mryl last night in a private Facebook message. Am also sad not to be mentioned in the piece above since it was I who gave Howard his very first professional assignment back in 1984, at La MaMa and then at the Samuel Beckett Theater – with the world premiere of Beckett’s “All Strange Away”, and again, in the following year, in the “Beckett Trilogy” (featuring the legendary Julian Beck) (which traveled to Germany), etc.
    Gerald Thomas

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