Robert "Bob" Pond (1937 - 2017)

Obituary
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  • "Bob was loved my many and will be remembered for the years..."
  • "I joined you in the audience, more than ounce. Of course..."
    - Jerry Bedwell
  • "Giving, always giving. He never stopped. In the very old..."
    - Steve Haycox
  • "It is hard to imagine Alaska without Bob in it. My heart..."
    - June Jefford
  • "Bob, there will never be another like you. Whenever I think..."
    - Carolynn Lancaster
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"Because of Bob Pond, I performed on stage for the first time. Because of Bob Pond, I became an actor. Because of Bob Pond, I became a better actor. Because of Bob Pond, I became a director."
Robert "Bob" Pond, actor, director, writer and icon of the Anchorage theatre community passed away on July 29, 2017. Largely because of his contribution, Anchorage theatre is rich with more than 50 years of home-grown talent and theatrical opportunity.
Born on Feb. 8, 1937, in a working-class Boston, Mass., neighborhood, the only son of a factory worker, Bob developed an early interest in opera and singing. Even with finances tight, his mother purchased a piano and paid for voice lessons. In high school, he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music.
During his military service, he continued to pursue his passion for singing and acting. His transfer to Anchorage, Alaska, in 1957, began a lifelong relationship with Anchorage's theatre community, starting with Frank Brink, the Anchorage Little Theatre and the role of the clerk in Witness for the Prosecution.
At the end of his service in 1959, he followed the acting dream and moved to New York City. Performing a summer season in Woodstock, he earned his Actor's Equity card (he also became a member of Screen Actors Guild later in life). The Metropolitan Opera hired him as a supernumerary actor for 17 operas, including Il Trovatore. He learned blocking skills from the Met's stage director, Nathanial Merrill. Later musicals that he directed in Alaska reflected that technique of movement and emotional honesty during musical phrases, rather than dramatic indication. Opera never veered far from his heart.
Bob found his way back to Alaska, in 1961, with a job as a state surveyor. He renewed his bond with the renamed Anchorage Community Theatre and its now Managing Artistic Director, Frank Brink. The productions began: On Borrowed Time, The Fantasticks, Cave Dwellers, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Bob Pond moved into directing with such plays as Lion in Winter, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wilds, Waiting for Godot.
Bob was in the theatre preparing for a performance of Our Town at Alaska Pacific University's Grant Hall theatre when the '64 earthquake hit. In spite of the chaos, Bob and the cast decided to perform the next day. Using theatre to build community is one of Bob Pond's enduring trademarks.
His desire to build an even better theatre and a stronger community led him to earn a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a Master of Arts in Theatre from Portland State University, and later in life returning for a second bachelor's at UAA in education.
For the next 42 years, Bob led the growth of the longest-running theatre company in Anchorage. He was committed to giving every child who auditioned a chance to be on stage. "It's all about inclusion, 'need casting,' and need of opportunity," he would explain. One show, Bugsy Malone, featured a cast of more than 42 kids under age 15.
After his retirement from ACT in 2000, he didn't stop. He freelance-directed classics such as Death of a Salesman at ACT, and directed seniors at the Anchorage Senior Center. In 2003, he received the Lorene Harrison Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award for distinguished service.
In his final years, he helped found RKP Productions, dedicated to creating significant theatre for the pure and artistic joy of doing it. Signature plays such as Glass Menagerie, and his final production, at 79 years, was The Phone for RKP.
In addition to directing, Bob regularly wrote reviews of theatre productions throughout the Anchorage community; his critiques were published for several years online through F Magazine, and quoted by Anchorage Opera, ACT, Cyrano's Theatre and others. Bob was a passionate teacher of history and general education, both at Alaska Junior College and as a long-term substitute for the Anchorage School District.
Outside of the theatre Bob read voraciously feeding his love of history, philosophy, current affairs and reading. He carried a copy of the constitution in his pocket, and could carefully outline the political issues of the day then wrap them into the Roosevelt Era or the Romans.
Bob was proud of having completed shortly before his death, his 'autobiography' - A Personal History with the Anchorage Community Theatre, by Robert Pond.
Bob lost his beloved wife, Roberta Lee Evatt, in 2012, after 43 years of marriage. He is survived by their two children, Teresa Kathleen Pond (also a Theatre Director and producer) and Sean-Michael Christopher Pond.
Services to honor Bob Pond's life will be held at 6 p.m., on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to Anchorage Community Theatre.
Arrangements are with Janssen Funeral Homes.
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Aug. 6, 2017