Nathan S. Rundlett

Date of Birth

February 23, 1936

Date of Death

January 13, 2013

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Born Feb 23, 1936, died January 13, 2013 of pancreatic cancer. Nathan, well known to many in the greater Santa Barbara area was born in Somerville, Mass to Hannah MacDonald Rundlett and Stephen Rundlett.

Nathan was a high school teacher of mathematics and chemistry – and was revered by both his colleagues and his students. He taught in Granada Hills, CA at Granada Hills High and Kennedy High School, where he was one of the founders of the Kennedy Hi SWAS program (School Within a School). He and his wife Marilyn Gilbert moved to Santa Barbara in 1981 and Nathan was able to complete his dream of building his own house. After that, he again reentered teaching at Camarillo High School and spent the next eleven years teaching math and chemistry.

During the same period of time, he and his wife founded the Santa Barbara Grand Opera in 1993 with a performance of Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. The couple continued to develop the opera company (now known as Opera Santa Barbara) for the next six years during which they presented approximately four productions a year, plus outreach to schools and support for other nonprofit organizations. At one time, Nathan and his wife produced and performed in a Spanish Zarzuela in the Sunken Garden of the Courthouse – the first time a large scale musical had been presented in that venue. They produced many operas, musicals and plays with Nathan sometimes directing and on occasion building sets for the shows.

He was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera Western Regional Auditions and made his professional debut in the Redlands Bowl as Sharpless in Madame Butterfly, with Dorothy Kirsten and Brian Sullivan. He has sung leading roles in over twenty operas. He also became a member of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers.

Nathan is survived by his four children and their spouses and 16 grandchildren and his wife Marilyn Gilbert. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Nathan Rundlett Vocal Scholarship Fund, c/o the Santa Barbara Music Club, PO Box 3974, Santa Barbara, CA 93130.

A memorial celebration of Nathan’s life will be held on Sunday, Jan 20 at the Congregation B’nai Brith located at 1000 San Antonio Creek Road in Santa Barbara and all are welcome.


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