In Memoriam: Jack Featheringill, 1931-2013
Emeritus Professor Jack Lee Featheringill, born December 4, 1931, succumbed to complications from open heart surgery on July 3, 2013. At Portland Center Stage friends, colleagues, theatre patrons, and supporters of performing arts gathered on August 7, 2013, to celebrate his lifetime’s accomplishments and significant contributions.
After completing a B.S. degree in business at Indiana University in 1951, Prof. Featheringill immediately began his highly successful and varied theatre arts career that featured acting, directing, casting, dance performance, and stage managing in venues ranging from summer stock to motion pictures and Broadway productions. He performed under a stage name, “Jack Leigh,” and accompanied major stage personalities, including Judy Garland and Ethel Merman, and danced in the movie “The Music Man.” He cast the original Broadway performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” and worked with notable choreographers on many productions.
Scholarly interests prompted him to return to Indiana University in 1969 for graduate studies in theater literature and criticism. Upon completing an MA degree in 1970, he joined PSU’s Department of Theatre Arts as an assistant professor and launched a long and noteworthy academic career.
Prof. Featheringill brought the accumulated benefits of his experience to PSU’s Theatre Arts Department while he taught courses in acting and directing from 1970 until retirement in 1999. As department head from 1977-1979 and 1984-1993, he demonstrated a high level of leadership that fostered popular graduate Theatre Arts degree programs and award-winning theatre festivals, such as the successful summer stock program at the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach. Under his influence the PSU Department of Theatre Arts gained national recognition through Kennedy Center performances.
On a personal basis, Professor Featheringill generated a reputation for supporting humanitarian causes and for public service on behalf of Theater Arts education. He maintained a lifelong relationship with his alma mater, Indiana University, and in 2001 underwrote the Featheringill Theatre and Drama Scholarship for that institution. In 2004 he received the Drammy Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to Portland area theatre programs.
After retirement, he served as an ombudsman for elder care and a counselor for a substance abuse hotline. He tirelessly supported the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Multnomah & Washington Counties (CASA). Donations to CASA in Prof. Featheringill's name made be made at casahelpskids.org.
For his contributions to this institution we owe Prof. Featheringill an enduring debt of gratitude. An obituary setting forth his achievements and an online guest book appeared in The Oregonian July 13, 2013.
Written by Victor C. Dahl, Emeritus Professor of History, September 20, 2013