On St. Patrick’s Day we celebrate Pat Furterer

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (March 17, 2023) – It is St. Patrick’s Day and the birthday of Pat Furterer, Loveland’s Forever First Lady.

Pat Furterer in front of the LSC Theater billboard for MIss Saigon (File Chuck Gibson)

Patricia Furterer came to Loveland, Ohio with – the “love of her life’ – her husband Fred in 1977. She made an immediate impact on the community with her love for live theater performance. They got “settled in” and she saw there were auditions for a show in Mariemont. She and a neighbor went looking, but could not find Mariemont Theater which is not easy to find; especially for a newcomer to the area.

“I came home and said to Fred, I think I’m going to see if there’s any interest in starting a theater here,” said Furterer. “He rolled his eyes and said, here we go again. I had a wonderful husband. He put up with a lot.”

She put an ad in the Loveland Herald (community newspaper) which was across the street from the theater on Broadway back then. Her phone started ringing and 10 other people came to her house. It’s not the way she would do it today. Furterer rattled off names like Dick Dyson, John Schneider, Sue Lundy and a whole list of others who responded at the time.

“We sat in my family room and read a one act play, giggled, laughed and talked,” Furterer recalled. “We just decided this is it we’re going to start a theater group if I can get this many people with one calling.”

Some of the members of the Loveland Stage Company over the years (File Photo Chuck Gibson)

It took a long time to get things started, to do a constitution and weeks and months getting a nonprofit designation. Furterer says Dyson and Schneider were both a lot of help in getting things going along with local attorney Vern Stiver who helped get the corporation papers done.

“He never charged a thing,” she said. “He just offered.”

The connection came through her husband Fred who was in Kiwanis with Vern. Thus, Loveland Stage Company was officially incorporated in 1979. She still has the incorporation papers.

“Then we put on a play on the deck in my backyard,” said Furterer. “That was the first one. Do you remember Ann Randolph? She was a senior in high school and she was in the play. That was the summer of ’79.”

Randolph went on to a career in acting, writing and producing live theater. Producing a play on the deck, in her backyard, in Pheasant Hills was nothing new for Patricia Furterer. She explained a little about her roots in theater – even if it was backyard theater. Furterer says she started putting on shows at the age of eight in the backyard of her childhood home in Ridley Park, PA. It was dressing up kids and using imagination to do all kinds of things.

“I guess I’m just a big ham,” said Furterer. “I’ve always enjoyed performing. I was always in every play, in the glee clubs and sang with a dance band in high school. I was into everything.”

The Ridley Park high school megaphone used by Pat Furterer when she was a cheerleader there (Chuck Gibson)

It came natural for her growing up in a “very musical family” with brothers and sisters who sang. One brother had his own dance band. Patricia was the baby of the family; the youngest of five and still has a 96 year old brother living in Florida. Today, St. Patrick’s Day, Pat celebrates her 89th birthday here in Loveland. She’ll be celebrating over lunch at Paxton’s with several Loveland Valentine Ladies. Being a Valentine Lady is just one of many well-deserved honors bestowed upon this lady who brought live theater to Loveland.

“The town of Loveland owes her a lot,” said Deirdre Dyson, veteran director and producer for Loveland Stage Company and accomplished artist. Not to mention Deirdre is the wife of Dick Dyson who helped Furterer start the theater group. “She has worked tirelessly to bring live theater to the community. Pat has been there for the successes and through the lean times. She was there to bring it through the fire.”

A view of the fire-gutted Loveland Stage Company Theater – arguably the worst moment in the LSC history (File Photo Chuck Gibson)

Before there was even a Loveland Stage Company Theater, Pat Furterer made a connection with Chuck Waple who was serving as Superintendent for Loveland Schools at the time. He was also a neighbor. She asked him if they could use the school. That was when the high school was on Lebanon Road. Waple gave the okay.

 “So I directed “My Three Angels”,” Furterer said. “We only performed one weekend.”

Even then she had to borrow $500 to put on the show and pay the school for custodial services. That first show was one of those successes Deirdre Dyson mentioned.

In just one weekend of performances, they made enough from admissions to pay back the $500 with a little over $200 left. That’s where it started. When the new high school was built, Furterer began looking for a new home for the stage company.

“We stayed at the middle school until Mr. Huber came along (LSFD Fire Chief Otto Huber),” said Furterer. “I had costumes stored in my basement and props; we had stuff everywhere. We were all over town.”

Loveland Stage Company costumes finally found a home in the LSC Theater on 2nd Street in Loveland. (File Photo Chuck Gibson)

Furterer recalled storing costumes in a building owned by the Loveland Community Firefighters Association (LCFA. When a storm caused a roof collapse there destroying all the costumes, it was one of those “lean times”. Furterer persisted and they carried on. She looked at an abandoned theater; there was a huge barn on the White Pillars she says would have collapsed with a nudge. She looked at “everything in this town” before finally being directed toward the old Crist movie theater.

“It was all boarded up, the facade of the theater was all covered up,” Furterer said. “When you want to do something, you find a way to do it. You find a way. The people in Loveland, the city itself, and the Loveland Community Firefighters Association have just been overwhelmingly supportive.”

In fact, it was Chief Otto Huber and the LCFA who allowed Furterer and her Loveland Stage Company to purchase the abandoned Crist movie theater building for just $1. All they had to do was clean it up. Furterer remembers it was filled from floor to ceiling with anything you could think of. It seemed insurmountable, but Jerry Viox, Ray Karle and other volunteers stepped up to the task.  

“We opened the door, it was filled from floor to ceiling,” said Karle. “We started cleaning. Me and Jerry and whoever could come had two big Rumpke Dumpsters and filled those guys.”

Kathy Karle recounted how they found two safes in the building which had been used by a bank in town to store files. Ray found a buyer and sold the safes. They finally got the place cleaned out.

“It was horrible,” said Kathy Karle. “It was dirty, smelly and the walls were falling down inside.”

Ray and Jerry volunteered, Pat gave them the key and they went to work. They spent the whole summer getting it ready. They came home so dirty each night Kathy Karle wouldn’t let Ray in the house with those clothes on. They needed to have a fundraiser, but couldn’t use the theater until it was cleaned up and safe.

“Pat Furterer was the driving force,” Kathy said. “At the end of the summer, Ray handed Pat the keys and said: now you can have your fundraiser.”

Just a few of the many show posters from LSC productions during nearly 45 years (File Photo Chuck Gibson)

Since then a lot of shows have been produced, a lot of performers have sang and danced their way across the stage, audiences have laughed, and maybe even shed some tears. There were a lot of tears when a fire gutted the theater, but Furterer wiped away those tears and found a way to rebuild and come back as strong as ever.

A lot more stories could be told about the history of Loveland Stage Company (LSC). Pat Furterer knows the history. She has the printed program (Playbill) from every show ever produced by LSC even today. She lived the history and created the memories with so many others whose lives she has touched along the way. Today, nearly 45 years later, the legacy of Pat Furterer lives on at the Loveland Stage Company Theater located at 111 S 2nd St. (S.R.48).

“If it was not for Pat Furterer, the Stage Company would not be there today. Pat is like, oh my God, she is Mrs. Loveland.” – Nancy Downing, a member and one-time treasurer of the LSC Board.

“She is like the Energizer Bunny,” said Downing. “She does it all. Pat is charitable, she’s in every organization, she has served. She is that kind of person that can never be replaced. You cannot replace her.” 

Downing recognizes the contributions of Pat Furterer go well beyond her legacy with the Loveland Stage Company.

“She’s done it all,” Downing said. “She’s a business person. She has a very good business mind. She was with the Loveland Chamber. She’s the kind of person you look up to. If I needed a mentor in my life, it might be Pat Furterer.”

Kay Bolin takes that to the next step recalling what Pat Furterer has meant to her personally and to the Loveland community overall.   

“I can honestly say Pat has made a difference in my life in Loveland,” said Bolin. “She was one of the first people I met and the Loveland Stage Company was therefore my first volunteer job which leads to the rest of my personal story as far as far as me being involved in the community. I really do owe that to Pat. She started the whole thing.”

Loveland Valentine Ladies Pat Furterer with Kay Bolin (File Photo Chuck Gibson)

Bolin’s history as a community-minded volunteer making a difference in Loveland is well documented. The two have been very good friends for decades. Like Pat, Kay was honored to be named and serve as a Loveland Valentine Lady. Of course, Pat played an important role in that.

“When I found out I was Valentine Lady, Pat set me aside and the first thing out of her mouth was: have fun with it,” Bolin said. “It was true. It sounds like an easy thing to do, to have fun with that, but when you realize all the responsibilities you do have, with the school, representing Loveland, it does put some pressure on.”

Just being able to remember Pat’s face and words; “Have fun with it” made a difference for Kay serving as a Valentine Lady in Loveland. 

Those who know Kay, also know she truly had fun, and continues to have fun in her role as a Loveland Valentine Lady.

“Pat is a real community minded leader and resident,” said Bolin. “She has had such an impact on our community and Loveland Stage Company.”

Bolin also recalled special LSC moment for her and her husband Tim O’Grady when they both played the role of a “Jack in the Box” on stage at the theater. If you know Tim, you know performing on stage in front of a live theater audience is the last thing you’d ever expect to see him do. Somehow Pat Furterer convinced him to do it.

“She is the only person I could ever see Tim agreeing to going on stage for,” Bolin said. “With the theater, Pat knows where people’s strengths are, where there comfort level is.”

Bolin found a variety of adjectives to describe Pat Furterer’s character including, fun, crazy, nuts, intelligent, persistent and caring. It all leads to what Furterer has meant to, not only Bolin, but to everyone in Loveland.  

“She’s really an inspiration for so many people,” said Bolin. “I can certainly speak for myself on that. She’s shown us you can enjoy life and also benefit the community and a project like the Loveland Stage Company.”

The State of Ohio General Assembly Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame proclamation for Pat Furterer in 2020 (Chuck Gibson)

There is no doubt Pat Furterer has inspired many throughout the years here in Loveland. Among them is her dear friend K. Buckler whom she refers to as the best producer at Loveland Stage Company. Buckler nominated her for the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame that resulted in Pat Furterer receiving the award and being recognized by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio as a 2020 inductee into the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is not the only honor for which the contributions of Pat Furterer have been recognized. The City of Loveland just recently named a street in her honor. The Pat Furterer Way street sign is now properly displayed along the stretch of 2nd Street where the Loveland Stage Company Theater is located in Loveland. It is an honor Pat Furterer is most grateful to receive in her lifetime. It means a lot to her to be recognized for giving back to the community which has given her so much for which to be thankful.

Street sign showing Pat Furterer Way in front of Loveland Stage Company Theater in Loveland, OH (Provided)

“I always feel it is better to give than to take,” Furterer said. “I have gotten so much back, my heart can explode. It’s fun to give. That’s what makes a community. Get involved, do something.”

Pat Furterer got involved. No one can argue with the fact she did something. Here’s how she summed it up in her own words:

“Community theater is not about you, it is about giving to the community and each other. It’s about teaching others what you have learned, mentoring someone in your footsteps, encouraging people to try new things and giving yourself to the community.” – Pat Furterer, All of that and certainly Loveland’s First Lady Forever.

Today is Pat Furterer’s 89th birthday. She’ll celebrate it with friends in Loveland. Happy Birthday Pat. Kay Bolin is right in saying it is most fitting she was born on March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day.

“Loveland is lucky to have her,” said Bolin. “She is our treasure at the end of the rainbow. She is truly a dear and special friend.”   

Pat Furterer (photo Provided)