KINGSTON, N.Y., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Ron Marquette, a New York college official and former arts executive who rescued a historic theater from financial peril, died Friday, a college official said.
Marquette, 68, of Kingston, N.Y., was at Albany Medical Center for surgery after suffering a heart attack when he took "a turn for the worse," Donald Katt, president of the State University of New York at Ulster, told the Daily Freeman of Kingston.
Marquette was responsible for the college's community relations and special events. He was also a leader in a million-dollar campaign to renovate the Stone Ridge, N.Y., college's 500-seat Quimby Theater.
"A college theater's role in community is really vital -- it brings so many people together," Marquette told the Freeman in 2007 after the 40-year-old theater regained the luster of its heyday.
For 11 years, Marquette was the executive artistic director of Kingston's historic Broadway Theater, a 1927 neo-Classical-style show palace known for its flawless acoustics that had fallen on hard times.
When he took over in 1994, the 1,500-seat theater -- once a forum for vaudeville acts, musical productions, drama, concerts and movies -- was running a high six-figure deficit and needed nearly a million dollars in repairs.
Marquette restructured the operations of the non-profit Ulster Performing Arts Center running the theater, cutting its budget while expanding its theatrical offerings.
Over several years, through partnerships, he restored the theater's financial footings and secured more than $2.25 million for restoration while establishing the theater as a performing arts center renowned for its forward-looking programming.
Marquette and the city later created a theater district around the center, including vintage street lights.
"Probably the biggest development is that ... the Broadway Theater is now a source of community pride. That's got to be earned," Marquette told the Freeman in 2005.
Marquette was earlier the artistic director of Shadowland Theater in the Catskills village of Ellenville, N.Y.
Before moving to the Hudson Valley in the early 1980s, Marquette worked extensively as a director, producer and writer off-Broadway in New York City, where he was the founding director of the Persona Theater. He also worked at regional theaters in Rhode Island, Connecticut and on Long Island.
He wrote two plays, "Nonna" and "Larry Parks' Day in Court." The second drama, about a U.S. movie star blacklisted in 1951, was selected to be performed at Florida's Key West Theater Festival in 1994.
In 2009, before the opening of his production of "The Wizard of Oz" at SUNY Ulster's Quimby Theater, he explained the vagaries of directing a dog.
"Sometimes Toto shows up and wants to work, and sometimes Toto doesn't want to work," he told the Freeman with a laugh.