News

Litfin estate to benefit Friends of Children's Theatre

Mourning, celebration of theater's assistant director continues

State Sen. Joe Simitian, the executor of Michael Litfin's will, said Thursday that the longtime Children's Theatre assistant director had planned to leave the bulk of his estate to the Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre.

"He knew I would understand and honor that wish," Simitian said.

Simitian said he could not say how much money was involved.

Litfin died Feb. 1 at age 63, after he was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Simitian, who has been involved with the theater since his days playing Theseus in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," said he knew Litfin quite well but is reserving comments for Litfin's Feb. 17 memorial service.

One week after Litfin's untimely death, his many supporters and friends continue to grieve and reflect on Litfin's many contributions.

For the first time, Director Pat Briggs -- speaking through her attorney Diane de Seve of Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, LLP -- commented on the death of her longtime friend and colleague.

"Michael was extraordinarily talented and gifted," Briggs said. "He was a beloved friend, a valuable co-worker, and someone who dedicated his life to helping young people achieve their potential. Michael will be missed by thousands."

Litfin, who some called a "brilliant curmudgeon," was born in Minnesota and worked at the Palo Alto theater from 1976 until his death. He was also an accomplished playwright and lauded for his dedication to Palo Alto's youth.

Litfin's death came one week after the abrupt Jan. 24 closure of the Palo Alto institution, which is undergoing a police investigation into alleged financial crimes at the theater.

With both emotionally demanding events occurring at once, one theater supporter encouraged the city to provide counseling for the youth when he addressed the City Council Feb. 4.

Community Services Director Richard James said he hasn't had time to investigate support options but said he knows the theater staff has had discussions with the children involved with "The Giver" about the recent events.

"We've been so busy trying to keep up," James said.

He said he does plan to research the need and options for counseling at the theater.

The Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre have started the fund to pay for the costs of Litfin's Feb. 17 memorial gathering. Checks can be made out to FOPACT, with "Michael Litfin Memorial Fund" in the memo line, and sent to FOPACT, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Comments

Posted by Paul W, a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 8, 2008 at 7:48 am

It's a horrible shame that anything Pat wants to say now has to be relayed through an attorney, even if it's simply a tribute to a great man like Michael, her friend and coworker for years and years. Truthfully, there's no way I can believe that she deserves to be put through this investigation hell. Her dedication was as hard and amazing as Michael's ever was, and she should be at the theater working as she always has, as this country's Constitution says she should be...innocent until proven guilty. And I have absolute faith that she is innocent in these matters.


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Paul, I can't agree more. These wonderful people have been there for the children of Palo Alto for generations and now when a great leader has fallen, when they need their theatre family, they cannot come together in community, in comfort.

And where for years they would meet to comfort each other at the loss of a friend, now one of their greatest friends is gone and they cannot gather together for comfort from those who would know just what to say to make it, not okay, but bearable.

Well, Michael graduated this school of life with honors. No matter what some may choose to imply. We know it is not so. Well done Michael.


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