Richard McCurdy Ames

A man’s sense of humor stays with us as a reminder of that person. The lengthy time it took for me to write this obituary would have amused Dick, as anything unconventional would. I was fortunate to have met him in my formative youth and to learn the lesson of discontentment with the status quo. It has been a driving force in my life as an artist. Also, I learned to continue my efforts to meet each challenge anew. I thank him for these insights and for providing a foundation to appreciate diversity.

Our Friend and Patron of the Arts is gone. Richard McCurdy Ames passed away on August 26, 2007. His contributions to the artistic, musical, and theatrical institutions of Santa Barbara cannot be forgotten by the audiences of the past 50 years. His instigation of many endeavors in all of the arts is a great inspiration to the whole community. He was involved in the early days of the Music Academy of the West. He was an early board member of the Lobero Theatre, and he was a driving force in his various civic productions, which engaged and educated actors and delighted audiences. At the Santa Barbara News-Press, he served as theater, music, and art critic-an endeavor that always had polarities that challenged and provoked contravention and thought among his readers. As head of the Art and Music Department of the Santa Barbara Public Library, he provided musical scores to musicians for public access and records of the world’s music for the general public-a radical service to the community in the ’60s.

Born in New York City, his musical inclinations were recognized early by Nadia Boulanger, with whom he studied both piano and composition. He was exposed to modern composers and well acquainted with Bach, having edited a volume of his organ pieces. His interest in theatrical composition brought him to California, and he studied with Alan Harkness in Ojai, learning the craft of theater production, directing, lighting, and staging. It was there that he met and married Ann Jones, a young actress. Their residency in Santa Barbara was one of very active involvement in artistic, musical, and theatrical venues. He was involved with the Lobero Theatre, the Alhecama Theatre, the Civic Theatre, the Park Theatre, the Repertory Theatre, and the First Press on West Carrillo Street, and he served as treasurer at the Gallery 8 on West Anapamu. As a team, Dick and Ann taught theater to appreciative and enthusiastic students at Santa Barbara City College Adult Education and at the UCSB Drama Department.

The keen insights and talents that Dick brought to life in all his endeavors have made us more aware of local talents that continue to blossom here. His personal art collection was a statement of his belief in supporting local artists, and his patronage furthered many grateful artists’ ongoing careers. The life of Dick Ames was a major contribution to the multi-faceted culture of what we all now enjoy in Santa Barbara today. Can you say “Thank You” to his spirit? He leaves three children: Alexander, Ethan, and Alan, and four generations scattered around the world, as well as many, many friends


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