BERLIN - As Andy Doe, 16, drove the family's '36 Hudson Terraplane down East Road toward town, he had no idea he was driving through the site of a future airport, or that he would crash the car in Montpelier. His mother, Alida Turney Doe, found out but could not bring herself to punish him, so close was their bond. Taking risks was to remain a quintessential part of his life: He abandoned a young career in economics for theater and later directed productions in such unlikely places as the streets of Watts during the riots and in Poland during the Cold War.
Andrew Edwin Doe was born June 11, 1928, in Montpelier, Vermont, and grew up in a string of residences with his mother, Alida, and father, Alton Edwin Doe - both lifelong Vermonters. In 1933, he spent nine months in Chivela, Mexico, where his father had started a mahogany mill and coffee plantation. At ease on his own from a young age, he drew friends to him, as he continued to do throughout his life.
As a child, Andy was exposed to theater by his mother, performing with her in summer stock at Lakewood, Maine. He graduated from Montpelier High School in 1946, and joined the Navy, where he was a disbursing clerk - a job that gave him plenty of time to develop a lifelong love of tennis.
He received his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Vermont in 1952 and headed west with his friends for the summer wheat harvest near Walla Walla, Washington. While working for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, his life "took a big change." In his own words, "The work at Boeing was not interesting enough, so I decided to go back to school at U of W. I looked up the home address of the head of the Theater Dept., went to his home and asked him if I could work in the theatre. That night I started doing props at the Penthouse Theatre and eventually got my M.A. degree. I was getting pretty exhausted working at Boeing from 8-5 and then working at the theatre from 7-11pm, so I tried to get some sleep in the room behind the box office. It so happened that the student working the box office was Dorothy Kosobud." They married in 1955 and took up residence in a houseboat near the university. The two became a part of a group of poets, theater and literature students that would gather in a bar near campus, The Blue Moon.
In 1955, Andrew Doe began teaching drama at Lower Columbia College (Longview, Washington), then relocated to complete graduate work in Iowa and Michigan, where he first started teaching the work of James Joyce and Bertolt Brecht. He took his first faculty position at USC in 1957, and sharpened his ideas about the integration of the arts and bringing drama into the community. The ideals of social justice and activism that inspired his teaching and directing were shared by Dorothy, and infused family life. At USC and later, at Pomona College, he formed The Street Theater, and brought a lively combination of rough theater, mime, music, and aspects of commedia dellarte into poor neighborhoods, including riot-torn Watts. While at Pomona, he continued his focus on Brecht, and his directing work there ranged from Aeschylus to Shakespeare to Shaw to John Arden, as well as his sponsorship of new plays such as "The Confessions of Father None" by Stanley Crouch. Always interested in pushing out of the theater and into public spaces, he produced plays in the college's outdoor Greek Theater, and nearby rock quarries were the sites of happenings such as "Richard Barnes Cucamonga Wrapdown" and "The Life and Death of Buster Quinine."
His children, Chris, Kelly and Nick Doe, all fondly remember being roped into acting roles until they were old enough to know better. During summer breaks, he drove his kids across the country to Vermont.
After his divorce in 1972, he left Los Angeles for UC Santa Cruz where he became chair of the theater arts department (1973-1992). While there, he also directed productions at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles, and the Alternate Theater and Magic Theater in the Bay Area - working with Sam Shephard on his early plays and adapting Joyce for the stage. He brought Jerzy Grotowski to UCSC from Poland, and when on sabbatical went to Berlin, Warsaw, Dublin and London to seek new works and those creating them, a process he loved and continued into his retirement. His directorial credits include numerous honors, awards and grants from such sources as the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, The NEA and the Smithsonian Institution.
Andrew was a passionate teacher whose empathy allowed him to connect with actors and students of all types. He held himself, his students and children to the highest standards, yet allowed them room for risk and failure. He never gave up on those he believed in, and always found a way to motivate those around him.
After retiring in 1992, he moved back to his childhood home on East Road in Berlin, Vermont. There he re-immersed himself in theater, directing many shows for central Vermont companies, both professional and community. He continued his lifelong exploration of various theater scenes with visits to Europe and Canada, as well as frequent visits to New York. He skied until his early 80s and his love of tennis kept him involved with the local tennis scene - reconnecting him to several of his childhood friends. Later in life, he satisfied his wanderlust during the winter months by traveling with friends and family to the Yucatan and Tybee Island, Georgia.
Andrew Doe died of lung cancer at home on July 12, 2017. An extraordinary community of Vermonters helped him through his last days. His final "road trip" exemplified his modesty and practicality: a scenic drive up Route 2 took him to the Anatomical Gift Program at UVM in a pine box made by his friend, Alan Paschell, in a truck driven by his friend, Brian Swift, accompanied by his three children and flowers from his friends, Morgan Irons and Anne Sarcka.
Andrew is survived by his children, Christopher (Eugene, Oregon), Kelly (New York City) and Nicholas Doe (Wellesely, Massachusetts); his grandchildren, Casey, Alex, Cooper and Bailey Doe; and his nephews, Greg and Scott Martin. He was predeceased by his parents, Alton Edwin Doe and Alice Alida Turney Doe; his aunts, Almeda Turney Douglass and Helen Turney Martin; and his cousin, Robert Martin.
Donations in honor of Andrew can be made to World Wildlife Foundation, Oxfam or Vermont Public Radio. There will be a memorial celebration of his life on Sept. 23. Those interested in attending are encouraged to call or email for details. email@example.com or 646-417-1212; and to please rsvp before Aug. 25.
Published in Times Argus on Aug. 12, 2017.