Our entire community is mourning the loss of Mary Britt, who died on April 3, 2019. As executive director of Ocala Civic Theatre for 31 years, this dynamic lady was a champion for the arts and made a lasting impression on all of us. A special fund has been set up at OCT for donations in memory of Mary, and a celebration of her life will be held on Tuesday, May 21 at 5 pm at the Theatre. The event is open to the public and will include remarks by Jim Ross, managing editor of the Ocala Star-Banner and past president of the OCT board of directors; Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn; Jaye Baillie, executive director of Marion Cultural Alliance; Philip Leppert, president of the OCT board of directors; and Dave Schlenker, former Ocala Star-Banner entertainment editor. Longtime OCT performer Victoria Sexton will perform a musical selection and the service will conclude with the scattering of Mary’s ashes on the Theatre grounds.
“Mary and I shared many conversations about theater and life over the years. She was always ready to lend a hand to my own theater program at West Port High School.” -Janet Shelley
“Mary loved Ocala, OCT and her theater family to the depths of her being. I would give anything for one more night of sitting together on the counter of the concession stand and listening to the latest cast album, drinking a glass of wine, laughing and dreaming about the next show until the wee hours of the morning. I am eternally grateful for her.” -Greg Thompson
“Mary taught me that you shouldn’t put in the long hours, sweat, blood and tears just for the ovation. You should do the work because you love the work and you believe in the work. Thank you, Mary.” -Angie McCormack
“I’d known Mary for over 20 years, and she always greeted me with a hug and a smile. Seeing Mary’s dedication and love for the theatre and all those involved made my love for the theater and my respect for her grow. I will treasure the memories of our talks and her contagious smile. This beautiful woman not only helped nurture my love for theater, she watched me grow as a person, and I will always miss her.” -Angie Brahim
“We truly have lost one of the brightest stars in our community. I grew so much as an arts leader through watching and listening to Mary.
The Marion Cultural Alliance Board of Directors voted in June 2017 to establish the Lifetime Achievement Award to be conferred on someone for ‘exceptional contributions to the arts.’ Mary Britt was unanimously selected to be the first recipient for her 30 years of service to the arts community and the Ocala Civic Theatre. The award was presented to Mary at the 2017 Applaud the Arts.” -Jaye Baillie
“Mary left a legacy of love, a love of the community and a love for her organization and what it could bring to the community and what they could give back. I think of her as a cultural ambassador. She was beloved in this community.” -Chris Jorie
“Mary’s vision and dedication have enriched so many young lives, including that of my daughter, Sarah, for which I am forever grateful. I will always remember Mary’s beaming face as she interacted with her wonderful theater kids.” -Janet Behnke
“Mary had an impact we don’t even understand yet. She was involved in the theatre at all levels and never missed an opportunity to recruit volunteers. My kids grew up in the theater; all three were on stage at OCT, and the entire family was involved. It all started with Mary. The theater was her life, love and passion, and the theater is going to continue to thrive in her honor.” -Philip Leppert