John D. Shearin III, professor and director of the School of Theatre and Dance, died on April 9. He was 72.
Students, faculty, alumni, friends and his children shared stories to celebrate his life in a program held in McGinnis Theatre on May 7.
The celebration was hosted by Shearin’s friend and classmate, actor David Aston Reese. It included student performances (“No One is Alone” from Into the Woods and “Miles,” a dance choreographed by Tommi Galaska). Daniel Shearin, Katie (Shearin) Chaffee and Sarah Shearin performed “Guiding Light,” a song written by their father.
For 27 years, Shearin led the department, then school. He taught student actors and produced and directed productions.
Last year, Shearin announced his decision to concentrate solely on teaching in the fall.
Shearin produced more than 195 plays and musicals for the ECU/Loessin Playhouse and Summer Theatre. He directed 72 productions and acted in about a dozen, several of which he significantly reconstructed or adapted for ECU’s facilities and students.
In 2015, Shearin was awarded ECU’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, one of the most prestigious awards given by the university.
A Vietnam War veteran, Shearin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre from the College of William and Mary and received his master’s degree of fine arts from Penn State University, where he worked with the touring and resident graduate company.
He appeared in network television shows including “Matlock,” “Designing Women,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Hunter,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “American Gothic” and “Bret Maverick.” Even as a working TV actor, he stayed involved in theater including stints on and off Broadway and in several Los Angeles area theaters, the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, MA.
He was a founding member and associate director of the Los Angeles Playhouse West School of Acting.
In related news,
George Broussard, 73, died on March 14. He served 40 years as trombone teacher, performer, and conductor of the jazz band and Jazz ‘Bones. He retired as professor emeritus. He performed often with the NC Jazz Repertory Orchestra and Tar River Big Band.
Bea Chauncey, 95, passed away on April 2. She taught flute, performed and served as the director of the Women’s Glee Club from 1949 until her retirement in 1990. In 1992, she established an endowment to support scholarships in the School of Music.
Ray Elmore, 72, died on May 1. He taught painting and drawing. His work is in the collections of Cornell University’s Johnson Museum, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the American Print Gallery in Gettysburg, PA. He retired in 2006 as professor emeritus.
Arthur J. Haney, 74, passed away March 30 after a courageous battle with cancer. He served the School of Art and Design as professor of ceramics and associate dean from 1973-2006. He was active in leadership of the ECU Retired Faculty Association.