The Wally Russell Foundation announced that Dave Cunningham has made a donation to the Foundation at the Platinum Circle level, and Sonny Sonnenfeld has made another donation at the Gold Circle level.
The nonprofit organization relies on donations by industry companies and individuals to move it forward as it supports the LA Opera internship program, Broadway Master Classes, and the Safety Certification Program. It also sponsors the Wally Russell Award, which honors outstanding lifetime achievement in entertainment technology, and a Newcomer Award for an innovative person in the industry. A list of winners can be found online in the Awards section of the Foundation's website.
Lenkey remembers Wally, saying, “Just maybe I met Wally Russell earlier than anybody. I went from Rutgers University in New Jersey to show University of Toronto students how to play ice hockey and there was Wally Russell. The year was 1952. Even then, his magnetism and happiness radiated, and I was drawn. The next spring, I invited Wally to stay with my family and work a summer job. I worked too. Separate jobs. I dropped and collected him en route to my job. He invited me to see Brigadoon which he was one of the staging managers of, in 1954. I tell you, I never saw a better show in NYC, London, Washington, Milan-wherever. I was enchanted. First flash of Russell genius. Later, I helped Wally and his brother Fred move his mother from Sackville Street to better digs, and she became friends with mine. We were Euchre nuts and played thousands of hands with other Canadian friends. I visited Wally and wife Molly in Toronto and in Palos Verdes, CA, again and again and was, as all who met him, rewarded by his attention. I have no sibling. But when Wally died, my custom-printed Christmas card that year sadly said, ‘Wally Russell, My Brother, had gone.’”
Wally Russell’s friends and business associates created the Wally Russell Foundation in 1992 to honor the memory of Russell—a visionary in lighting design, product innovation, theatre design, technical direction, and general management—whose frequently unrecognized impact on the profession was profound. Russell helped bring about the first computer controlled lightboard; brought automated lighting to the LA Opera as their technical director; and designed many theatres, including the modernizing of Buenos Aries’ Teatro Colon.
The Wally Russell Foundation Board of Directors are Donna Appleton, Phil Bernard, Rusty Brustche, David Cunningham, Tom Folsom, John Howe, Philip O’Donnell, Richard Pilbrow, Brian Russell, Glen Russell, Robert Schiller, Jennifer White, John Wiseman
Donations can be made to the Foundation in the following levels:
Wally Patron: $2,500 and above
Platinum Circle: $1,000 to $2,499
Gold Circle: $100 to $999
Donations can be sent to:
The Wally Russell Foundation
c/o Tom Folsom
2061 Hoefner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90040