It would not be possible for the Belfry Theatre to operate without the services of some 250 volunteers, many of whom you will have encountered greeting patrons, taking tickets, and staffing the concession.
Last year, we sadly lost one of our longest-standing volunteers, Lillian Rabb. She began volunteering for the theatre in 1981, and went on to serve as a team leader, and an advocate for the Belfry. If you ever saw Lillian’s beautiful smile lighting up the lobby, you would be sure to remember it!
The Navy life led Lillian’s family to relocate across Canada and Europe, and Victoria became her long-term city of choice. She worked for Canada Post for a time, but her passion was art: theatre, music, and literature.
Lillian was well-known for her commitment to several other arts and cultural organizations in the city, including the Conservatory of Music, the Symphony, and the Fringe Festival. Her good friend Susan Walker volunteered around town with her. She recalls Lillian sharing her thoughts on performances she had seen at the Belfry and at theatres in Vancouver. Susan reports that she and Lillian agreed that they had never been disappointed with a Belfry performance.
Lillian would sometimes see a Belfry production two or three times, as she was also a subscriber, and one of the first to fill in for volunteers who were sick or out-of-town. When her son Jim settled in Victoria, he became her “plus one” at Belfry performances. He told us that Lillian’s favourite seat was in the centre of the front row. Jim describes his mother as a very quiet person, who always had a book checked out from the library.
Prior to her partner Larry’s death, the couple made the most of life in Victoria. Lillian also loved to travel with family and friends. Her daughter Donna provided these colourful travel memories:
“A string orchestra of Vivaldi at a 900-year old church in Barcelona, and then eating churros and chocolate in the dark passageway (she was still classy doing that); cramming in as many theatre events as we could during a trip to London; stumbling upon numerous festivals in Hawaii; having Stocking Island in the Bahamas to ourselves; and the day there was no line-up and so walked right into the Uffizi in Florence. She loved going to the Stratford Festival with a theatre friend. She also went to Hawaii many times, Mexico, and a trip to Captiva Island, where we rented a house with her and our kids (including her granddaughter Liv, who shared Lillian’s birth date).”
Lillian’s children made a generous gift to Belfry in memory of Lillian. They agreed that, given the many years that she devoted to the Belfry, Lillian would have wanted to offer one final gesture of support! “Mom was a voracious reader, could point you to the very best latte in the city, she loved a good thrift find, cherry blossoms, daffodils, the ocean, sunshine, and the smell of freesias. She appreciated good food, fine wine, and quality linens. She was tough, loyal, smart, generous, adventurous, and a cancer survivor, twice. But mostly, she was our beautiful mom, and we will miss her.”
The Belfry is incredibly grateful to have been blessed by Lillian Rabb’s service, patronage, and enthusiasm for more than four decades!