Dick Poole, formerly of Newport, Oregon and one of the founding members of Porthole Players, passed away in his sleep on July 3, 2020 in Sacramento, California at the age of 97. Dick was well regarded and loved by the Newport Theatrical Community for his contributions of quality productions dating from 1973 through 1982.
Dick began his theater career in grammar and high school. He continued participating in plays throughout WWII when he served in the Navy on the Loella Lykes transport ship after Pearl Harbor. He and his shipmates were stationed in the Philippines with little to do during down time, so they directed and performed skits and plays with “all men casts” for entertainment.
Dick and Rose, his wife of 61 years, renewed their interest in the theater when they moved from Portland to Agate Beach in 1971. In the summer of 1973, a young group of Performing Arts graduate students from Oregon and California visited Agate Beach to put on a few plays at the former Agate Beach Community Club. Dick and Rose were so impressed with the group that they offered to donate building materials and props for the production of The Fantasticks. Just before the play was to open one of the cast members had to pull out at the last minute. Dick had been to most of the rehearsals and just happened to know all of the lines, songs and dances so he was able to step in for the part of Hucklebee. Thus began Dick’s 31-year career of acting and directing in the communities of Newport, Oregon, Maui, Hawaii and Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Behind every successful person is a strong partner. Always by his side, Rose worked tirelessly assisting with character lines and was the Treasurer and Secretary for Porthole Players for many years. Rose’s greatest joy and passion were creating costumes for the casts, especially for the musicals. (When Rose and Dick started dating in the mid 1930’s Dick was so impressed by Rose’s dresses he asked her where she got them. She told him “I made them”. Dick didn’t believe her, so he went out and bought the material and a pattern and sat next to her while she put the dress together. This was during the Depression, so store bought clothes were not cost effective.) Because of her skills as a seamstress Rose was able to create magnificent costumes that were interchangeable and cost effective.
During Dicks tenure in Newport he directed, produced and acted in a total of 23 plays consisting of dramas, comedies, and exquisite musicals. His first musical was “Little Mary Sunshine”. In the years that followed he directed Finian’s Rainbow, Oklahoma, Annie Get your Gun, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady and many more. Most notably was the inclusion of the community’s young people, from elementary through high school. The majority of musicals produced always included a large cast of children.
The greatest legacy of Dick and the Porthole Players is the continuation of a strong and creative Performing Arts Program for the benefit of the community of Newport and surrounding areas. Porthole Players is a community based organization that is not only educational for the young but also allows for young and old to interact, have fun and be a part of a unique family. - By M'Lissa Kenison-Kuhnle (Poole)