On the Ridge

NU Theatre Presents Spirit Awards to Four Alumni

The 27th annual Friends of Niagara University Theatre Gala was held Saturday, April 28. One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the third annual Spirit of Niagara University Theatre awards to four NU alumni.

According to Steven Braddock, director of NU Theatre, “The award is given to individuals or couples each year who have been generous to the theatre with their time and contributions. Niagara University Theatre and its students are enriched by such dedicated people who truly value and support quality theatre. We are honored to call them our friends.”

This year’s honorees include four outstanding alumni who have all starred on stage in NU’s theatrical productions and, as alumni, have worked behind the scenes on behalf of Niagara University Theatre. Awards were presented to Kathleen Gormley, ’63, and Patricia Nowak Orzetti, ’63, of Lewiston, N.Y., John T. Overbeck, ’75, of Youngstown, N.Y., and Barbara Neubert Pascua, ’66, of Portland, Ore.

Gormley was a member of the board of the Friends of Niagara University Theatre from 2000 through 2011. While she served on the Friends board, she was active on many committees and she and Orzetti were the dinner co-chairs for the Friends’ 25th anniversary gala in 2010. Gormley was a history teacher in the Niagara Falls school system for 40 years and spent the last 10 years serving as an adjunct history professor at Niagara University. She currently volunteers at the Heart, Love and Soul Food Pantry in Niagara Falls and is a lector at NU’s Alumni Chapel.

As a member of the Friends of Niagara University Theatre board for more than three decades, Orzetti served for a time as the Friends’ secretary and president and was the co-chair of the Friends’ annual gala several times. Recently retired from the Friends board, she is a volunteer at the Heart, Love and Soul Food Pantry in Niagara Falls and a lector at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Lewiston. She previously served on the Stella Niagara Education Park board of trustees in Lewiston.

Overbeck, visiting professor of marketing in NU’s College of Business Administration, worked in a number of executive sales positions for IBM for over 30 years. A major contributor to NU’s recent theatre renovation, Overbeck has been a member of the Friends of Niagara University Theatre board for several years. Thanks to his generosity, a number of improvements have been added backstage at the Leary Theatre this spring, and benches will be added outside the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre in the near future.

As a graduate of NU’s College of Nursing, Barbara Neubert Pascua enjoyed a multifaceted career in healthcare for a number of hospitals and the United States Air Force. Now retired, she volunteers on the Oregon State Advisory Council regarding the development and maintenance of the state’s database for childhood and adult immunizations. While a student at NU, Pascua became involved with its theatrical productions. To this day, she has followed the development of Niagara’s theatre studies program, which led her to name the program as a recipient of her godparents’ charitable trust, the Rees Charitable Trust, which will earmark $22,500 annually for scholarships for NU’s theatre studies students.

For more on Niagara University’s theatre and fine arts programs, please visit www.niagara.edu/theatre-fine-arts.