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Luis Maza

MAZA, Luis R. Luis R. Maza, son of Manuel Maza Escudero and Martina (Feliciana) Sanchez Esquerra, was born on October 7, 1935 in Cardenas, Cuba. The Cuba of his childhood was very different from the Cuba of today. He was a boy scout, a drum major, and, as a young adult, he played trumpet in a luxury hotel orchestra on his beloved Varadero Beach. In 1957, he met Richard Munroe, "Dick," who was vacationing there with his two young sons. Their bond was immediate and Dick convinced Luis to bring his dashing good looks and endless creative talent to live with him and his family in Quincy, Florida, a small southern town near Tallahassee where they first became involved with the theatre. A few years later, they moved to Atlanta, Georgia where they cofounded the Pocket Theater on Courtland Street. Always pioneers, they bought a home in Midtown in 1966, confident in their vision of what Midtown could and would become in the next 50 years. They were together for over 3 decades until Dick's death in 1991. Luis remained at the Midtown home and that was where, surrounded by loving family and friends, he died peacefully in his sleep on April 25, 2019. Theirs was a home that celebrated diversity, tolerance, and compassion. Throughout their lives, Luis and Dick were mentors to creative minds in both the arts and academia. After closing the Pocket Theater, they opened Luis Maza studios, a design studio that continued to create theatre sets in addition to other varied projects including restaurant interiors, sets for local news outlets, and design work for amusement parks and storefronts. In the 1970s, Luis taught scenic design at Spelman College to many now famous actors including Sam L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson, and Billy Nunn. His creative genius was evident in all of those pursuits but also in everything he touched to include the furniture and chandeliers that he made, the home he designed, and the amazing parties that were famous among his long list of friends and family. Always an important member of Dick's very large family, Luis was separated from much of his family because of Castro's rise to power. His sister and her family immigrated to the US in the early 1960s and Luis was able to watch her family grow and thrive. His brother's family did not arrive in the US until the 1980s. His ultimate joy was that he was able to reunite with them as well. They all loved "tio" and were all a big part of his life until his death. In the late 1990s, Luis met Ron Young who became his lifelong friend and companion until Luis's death. Luis's family will be forever grateful that he had such a loving friend in his life, a friend who tirelessly supported Luis in good times and in bad. They traveled together for two decades and especially loved their trips to the West Coast and the Miami area to visit with Luis' family. Luis is survived by many people: his dear friend Ron Young, his sister Aida Maza Martinez and her husband Otoniel; his nephew Oto Martinez (wife Jeannie and their children Anna and Duncan -- his very special phone friend); his nephew Sam Martinez (wife Monica Van Beusekom and their children Saskia and Nico); the daughters of his deceased brother Manuel Damaso Maza (Gladys) aka the "chick-a-boom" nieces, Aida Alentado and Lissete Montes De Oca (her children Felipe and Lucas); Dick's sons Richard Munroe (Jennifer Ripman) and Jan Munroe (Frances Conroy); Dick's niece Bobbie Dow Munroe; his loving friend Javier Flores; and a host of extended family and friends. Luis always loved having parties. Plans will be made in the coming months for a gathering to celebrate his life. As Luis would say, "I love it already."
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 12, 2019
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