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JAMES A. "DR. P" PANOWSKI
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Obituary for JAMES A. "DR. P" PANOWSKI

James A. “Dr. P” Panowski, 79, of Marquette, took his final bow Tuesday evening, May 22, 2018 at Brookridge Heights Assisted Living in Marquette with two special friends by his side and under the care of U.P. Home Health and Hospice.

The curtain rose on January 18, 1939 in Waukegan, Illinois where James was born and later adopted and raised by Albert and Mildred (Dearth) Panowski. Attending kindergarten he would later learn his teacher was the Wicked Witch of the East, Margaret Hamilton. He would work with her in his first equity show as the Sheriff in Oklahoma where Ms Hamilton was Aunt Eller. He was a graduate of Waukegan High School and was involved in arts and athletics. He was a member of the wrestling team, debate team and later drama club. Panowski received a Master’s degree in theatre directing and PhD in philosophy from Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Wanting to stay close to home and Comiskey Park, Dr. P was first employed by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL. From there he traveled to Hardin Simmons University in Abilene TX until seeking a job at Northern Michigan University in 1978 until his retirement in 2009. He retired as head of the Speech and Communication department and director of theatre and the Forest Roberts Theatre.

In his tenure at NMU Dr. P established the First Nighter’s Club; a booster club for the FRT students, re-established the Shiras playwrighting award as the Mildred & Albert Panowski Playwriting Competition -endowing it in perpetuity. He also created summer-stock work for NMU student by directing and producing at Mackinaw Island and Timberlake playhouse in Mount Carol, IL. Also, in his years at NMU he took students on New York field study trips to see and experience Broadway and to The Stratford Festival in Canada to learn about Shakespeare. He backed several Broadway shows and was a known fixture at the Tony Awards for over forty years. The Tony committee would recognize him for his years of services to university and Broadway theatre upon his retirement.

Panowski was a distinguished faculty member and Member of the Kaye Society at NMU. Dr. P was the voice of the Wildcats for over 10 years announcing at basketball and football games. He was an active Rotary member and Paul Harris fellow. He was a member Alpha Psi Omega Theatre fraternity, a member of the actors union - Actors Equity for over 20 yrs.

Shortly after his retirement the James A. Panowski Black Box was dedicated to him in his honor and thru his generosity, Studio P became a reality giving the students in theatre and dance a space to excel.

Dr. P had an incredible knowledge of Bway musical flops, so much so he wrote his MFA paper on them. He was curious about all things Vampire, loved anything about the Peanuts Gang especially Snoopy. He was an avid fan of the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Cardinals and a major Chicago Bulls enthusiast. Some of his favorite moments were: watching B Horror movies, cooking gourmet meals for friends, and traveling to NYC and helping any art organization in the area. Truly representing the Rotary motto, “service above self”.

Survivors include four very special friends, Bobby Glenn Brown, Don Roberts, Lynndee Brown Hanson and Robert H. Dutmer, all of Marquette. Another very special friend, Michael Chudinski, preceded him in death. Also surviving are numerous other close friends and professional associates.

Please help us giving Dr. P a standing ovation by joining us for a time of reminiscing and memory sharing at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 7th in the lobby of the Forest Roberts Theatre on the campus of NMU. A celebration of Dr. P’s life will follow at 11 a.m. in the Forrest Roberts Theatre, moderated by Bobby Glenn Brown. Refreshments will immediately follow in the James A. Panowski Black Box Theatre.

Acknowledgement must be made to the Brookridge administration & staff for their care and professional service in the three and a half years Dr. P was part of their family.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make an expression of sympathy are kindly asked to consider a donation to the organization he created - The First Nighter’s Club through the NMU Foundation.

The Canale-Tonella Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements where former students, family and friends are encouraged to share memories and photos, video or audio they have of Dr. P on the funeral home website at canalefuneral.com.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Saturday

7

Jul

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Forest Roberts Theatre

1401 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, Michigan 49855

Service

Saturday

7

Jul

11:00 AM
Forest Roberts Theatre

1401 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, Michigan 49855


Memorial Contribution

The First Nighter's Club c/o NMU Foundation

1401 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, Michigan 49855
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