Nathaniel Sisson Eek, the younger son of Lauris Martin and Donna Sisson Eek, died April 30th in Santa Fe, NM, after a short illness. Born October 16th, 1927 in Maryville, MO, he attended Elgin Academy in Elgin, IL. He went on to receive Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, a Master’s from Northwestern and a Doctorate from Ohio State University.
He served as the director of the Studio Theater at the University of Kansas and as an Asst. Professor of Speech at Michigan State University before being named Director of the School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma in 1962. He was appointed Dean of the College of Fine Arts at OU in 1976, stepping down in 1991 shortly before his retirement in 1993.
Eek served in the US Naval Reserve, mustering out in 1946 as a Seaman First Class and later in the US Army as an Artillery officer in the Korean conflict after which he received an honorable discharge as a 1st Lieutenant.
He met Patricia Ann Fulton while attending Northwestern and married her in May of 1952. Together they had three children; Robert, Konrad and Erik.
Active throughout much of his life as an author, he wrote the column Musings for the Norman Transcript in Norman, OK starting in 1979. He produced a number of works related to his professional field, the theatre. Eek also recently completed his memoirs, entitled “Life is to be lived”.
Eek served on numerous boards related to the Fine Arts and Higher Education including those of the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute and the International Association of Fine Arts Deans. He remained active in ASSITEJ, International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People, throughout much of his life, serving as its President from 1972 to 1975 and penning much of the organization’s history in a three volume collection. He attended this organization’s world congresses religiously including the most recent one in Warsaw, Poland in 2014.
He established a second home in Santa Fe, NM in 1989 and slowly increased the time he spent there until he became a fulltime resident in 2009. A regular attendee of the Santa Fe Opera as well as other local cultural events, he also attempted to increase the amount of available theater in the community by organizing performances and directed readings. He also mentored children through ReCAP school reading program at the Aspen public school as well as serving in other local service and social organizations.
A gracious host and creative chef, invitations to his parties were a widely coveted commodity. Whether clad in sartorial splendor or engaged in witty repartee or merely playing a game with acuity and finesse, he always added energy and joy to any gathering he attended. Perchance appearing foolish, he was never the fool and his charm and warmth made him friends with even the most hard-hearted of souls. His presence could fill a space of any size and his humor could bring a smile to the most melancholy of spirits.
Nat leaves a worldwide network of family and friends who will sorely miss his charm, grace and social engagement as well as his facetious grin. No words can truly capture all of his life experience or his humanity and compassion. He only sought to leave this place better off than how he found it. In that he has succeeded magnificently.
He is preceded in death by his parents, wife and son Robert. He is survived by his brother Lauris M. Eek Jr. and wife Dorothy, of Vienna, VA, brother-in-law James Rothermel of Naperville, IL, son Konrad and his wife Darra of Norman, OK, son Erik of Leipzig, Germany, daughter-in-law Elisabeth of Herndon, VA, Grandchildren Guillaume, Katy, TX, Eleonore, Herndon, VA, Justin Lund and wife Marianna, Tulsa, OK and Courtney Lund, Oklahoma City, OK
A mass of the resurrection in celebration of Nathaniel will be held at the Church of the Holy Faith, at 311 E. Palace, Santa Fe, NM, at 2 p.m. on June 5th, 2015.
In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests donations for the ASSITEJ Award for Artistic Excellence, care of nateekmemorial.com
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Nat Eek on the 30th of April, at the age of 89 after a short illness.
Nat was one of the founders of ASSITEJ International, and it gives us all a bit of comfort to know that he lived until ASSITEJ’s recent 50th anniversary celebration. His many accomplishments included being president of ASSITEJ (1972-75), writing an essential three-volume history of the organization, and founding (and funding) the ASSITEJ Award for Artistic Achievement.
While details of his life can be found in the obituary at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/SantaFeNewMexican/obituary.aspx?pid=174809998 and his accomplishments were many, I think his influence in the USA and worldwide came more from who he was as a person than from what he did. He was an intelligent, funny, dedicated man who loved life, people, and the importance of creating the best possible theater for our children and young people. His passion for the work radiated from him, glowing with the idealism of possibilities, and his optimism was tempered by his deep understanding of the politics of an international volunteer organization. Nat started in the cold-war era of ASSITEJ but could not have been happier at the recent changes in the organization that have made it so much more inclusive – artistic networks, individual members, a Secretary-General from Mexico, and the next Congress in the home of the first ASSITEJ President from Africa. We send condolences to his family, will miss him greatly, and continue to be thankful for having known and worked with him.
Kim Peter Kovac, USA
Below are some thoughts from some of his many colleagues worldwide.
- There is no doubt that Nat’s kindness, integrity, and dedication to the highest ideals of ASSITEJ have left an indelible mark on the entire field of Theatre for young and family audiences world-wide. (Suzan Zeder, USA)
- His passion, dedication and humor lifted us all up and created an almost infinite sense of possibility. (Peter Brosius, USA)
- He was a cheerful, generous and vital man with sincere interest in others. ASSITEJ will clearly be forever thankful to him for his valuable work and generous contributions. (Marisa Gimenez Cacho, Secretary General Mexico)
- I am so blessed to have learned from Nat, whose passion and wisdom inspired me to develop work for children in our city that he believed they deserve. (Linda Hartzell, USA)
- Assitej has a lot to thank him for, and it is also with gratitude and pleasure – mixed with the sadness of his passing – that I recall many memorable and fine moments in his company. (Michael Ramlose, Denmark)
- Nat was like a father in ASSITEJ and I am proud to have been accompanied by him as President and Honorary President for a while. (Wolfgang Schneider, Germany)
- As I write this, those wonderful histories of ASSITEJ sit on my desk, a legacy of Nat and other members of TYA USA. He made such great contributions to ASSITEJ that have impacted so many people in so many countries. He will be sorely missed. (Tony Mack, Australia)
- What an extraordinary man he was! I am so glad that I got to meet him and have an insight into his energy and his very significant contribution to the field and to our organisation specifically. I thought he was tremendously generous – not just through funding the award, but through his time, his commitment and the long hours of service he gave to the association in so many ways. He will be much missed by many, I know…. (Yvette Hardie, South Africa)
- Like everyone else I will miss Nat and his inspiring work. As Secretary General I always took the opportunity to speak with and seek his advice. Thank you, Nat! (Niclas Malmcrona, Sweden)
- He was one of the most rounded human beings I have ever met. A fierce intellect, a kind soul, a generous heart and a brilliant sense of humour. I am very proud to have been his friend and shared such happy times with him. I look forward to seeing you at the next Congress when we can all pay tribute to Nat, a true Founding Father of ASSITEJ (Vicky Ireland, UK)