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Memorial service set for theatre patriarch Zack York

May 2, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, May 10, to honor Dr. Zack L. York, former chair of the Western Michigan University Department of Theatre and a legend in WMU theatre history.

The service begins at 11 a.m. in Westwood United Methodist Church, 538 Nichols Road in Kalamazoo. A luncheon will follow the service at the church.

York died March 17 in Kalamazoo shortly after celebrating his 95th birthday. He retired from the University in 1978 with emeritus status. Shortly after his retirement, the WMU Board of Trustees named the University's arena theatre in his honor.

In 2003, trustees granted York an honorary doctor of fine arts degree for his many years of service to the theatre program. His long list of awards also includes being named one of three recipients of Kalamazoo's Community Medal of Arts award in 1988. A theatre scholarship at WMU was created in his honor in 2004. It is the department's most prestigious scholarship.

A faculty member from 1940 to 1978, York served in nearly every phase of theatre work and in 1976 was named the first chair of the newly formed Department of Theatre, which joined the four-year-old College of Fine Arts. Founded in 1906, the theatre program operated as part of the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and the Department of Speech.

A 1937 graduate of what was then Western Michigan College, York earned both master of arts and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He also attended Yale Drama School in 1939-40, after teaching junior high school English in Hastings, Mich., for two years.

In 1940, Laura V. Shaw hired York to join what was then the Department of Speech. In 1942, York left for World War II military service. After the war, he returned to WMU and spent the rest of his teaching career at the University, except for one academic year during which he taught stage design at Michigan State University.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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