In Memoriam: David Yergan ’80

In Memoriam: David Yergan ’80

Sept. 24, 2013

David Yergan ’80 by Phil Scalia
David Yergan ’80 (Photo by Phil Scalia)

David Yergan, Skidmore alumnus and longtime member of the Theater Department, died Sunday, Sept. 22, in Albany of complications from a stroke. He was 54.

A New York City native, David grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., and graduated in 1976 from New Rochelle High School. He earned a B.S. degree in theater at Skidmore in 1980, and in his senior year received the Margaret Ellen Clifford Award. The sole Theater Department award at the time, it recognized David’s “remarkable abilities, commitment, and work as a student of design and technical theater,” said Lary Opitz, professor and current chair of the department. Lary knew David as both student and colleague; the two shared a close bond over many years.

Following graduate studies at New York University and work at a number of Manhattan-based theater groups, David joined Skidmore’s Department of Theater as a technical director in 1986. His responsibilities included lighting design, serving as production manager, and teaching. When the Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theater building opened in 1987, David was named theater manager. He established the department’s scene shop and many of its technical theater courses. In addition, he created lighting and sound for countless department productions over more than a quarter of a century.

Skidmore students and alumni shared thoughts about David on a Facebook page. English and theater major Risa Shoup ’05 wrote, “From Dave I learned that you hang a light with the same integrity that you direct Shakespeare, and it's this sense of pride in hard work, regardless of the public glory it brings, that I remember learning from him most.”

David was deeply involved in the region’s performing arts, sharing his skills and talents as lighting designer and director of production for Opera Saratoga, as technical director for Saratoga Shakespeare Company, and as lighting designer for Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, Maude Baum and Co., Proctor’s, Curtain Call Theater, and Home Made Theater. HMT general manager Stacey Mayette Barnes wrote on Facebook, “He was the lighting designer for over 30 productions with HMT, along with occasional sound and scenic designs. David also served as a member of HMT’s Artistic Advisory Board. HMT has been enriched over the years by David’s talent, knowledge and his generosity. He always took the time to share his knowledge with newer crew members and he seemed to delight in the opportunity to teach.”

Skidmore’s summer programs enhanced by David’s creativity include the Saratoga International Theater Institute and the Jazz Institute, which performed many years on the JKB main stage. Jazz institute director Todd Coolman called David “the best of silent partners. He really took care of us and all the fine details, and managed the stage and staff well. He never sought recognition, but was content to be in the background and make sure everything was professional and optimal. He was our guardian angel, allowing us to keep our minds on teaching and playing music.” Last year the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Dance honored David in a ceremony that included a testimonial from famed choreographer Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey Company.

David is survived by his wife, Michelle Summerlin, and their daughter Evangeline (Evy), both of Saratoga Springs; mother Joan Yergan and brother Steven Yergan, both of New Rochelle; and sister Donna Yergan White (Charles) and their children, Justin and Jordan, of New York City.

Funeral services will be in New Rochelle. A memorial service will take place in the Theater Department at the end of the fall semester.



Tags: Campus Life, Community, David Yergan, Department of Theater, Memoriam