The Passing of Don Haas

FLI_Don HaasFounder, Treasurer, Donor, Member, and Friend of Footlighters, Inc.

The stage lights dimmed on March 18, 2022, and our stained glass was not as colorful as it usually is. Founder, treasurer, friend, and firestarter of the Footlighters organization, Donald J. Haas, passed away at his home in Bellevue, KY, at the age of 91. 

In the early 1960s, Don, his wife Mary, and other close friends—like Ron and Freida Houck and Mario Pitocco—joined forces to bring a new theater organization called The Footlighters to the West Side of Cincinnati. Their vision was to present musicals and plays of the highest professional quality with help from many talented and enthusiastic actors and technicians. 

It wasn’t long before venues began to witness one of the most vibrant community theater organizations in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, thanks to the driving energy of Don and his director/actress wife, Mary Haas. 

Their love for this organization found a higher calling in the late 1980s when a historic building and former church, located at 8th and York Street in Newport, was heavily damaged in a freak tornado. The dwindling congregation of the church felt it would be best to sell the building, and the founders invested their own money to purchase the building that is today the home of season after season of magical productions. 

Don’s wife Mary directed the very first upstairs mainstage production of the musical “Annie,” and that was all it took to breathe life into a building many assumed was destined for the wrecking ball. Since then, countless numbers of audience members and season subscribers have benefited from the vision of this great man, his wife, and a team of fast friends who will never forget his passion for this group and the arts as a whole. 

Don’s family was the Footlighters organization, yet he held tight to his relationship with his true family, including his son and daughter, five grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. 

We at Footlighters will continue to see and appreciate his decades of sweat equity in building and remodeling this wonderful arts venue. We will all truly miss him.

Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, March 26, 2022, at St John’s United Church of Christ, 415 Park Ave. in Newport. Funeral Ceremony will follow at 11 a.m. at the St. John’s UCC. Burial will take place in the Evergreen Cemetery.

Memorials are suggested to St. John’s United Church of Christ, 415 Park Avenue Newport, KY 41071; or the Stained Glass Theatre, 802 York St. Newport, KY 41071. For the full obituary, or to give online condolences, visit dmefuneral.com.

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