Welcome to Ed Ragozzino’s Memorial Blog

Ed Ragozzino was a dear friend to many.  Our family has received countless emails, voicemails, letters, and cards from Ed’s friends, students, colleagues, acquantances, and stranger; all who want to share what Ed did in their lives.  We decided to create an open public forum for people to share their experiences, stories and comments.  Please feel free to post messages, photos and videos of an all age appropriate nature.  We are all mourning the recent loss of our dear Ed, but the outpouring of love has absolutely moved every member of our family.  Thank you for your continued support in this time of celebrating the life of Ed Ragozzino!



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20 responses to “Welcome to Ed Ragozzino’s Memorial Blog

  1. Janice Allen

    We are so blessed to have been a part of Ed’s life. To share his lovely daughter Elizabeth, our wonderful son Josh and the little guy that we all call our Grandson, Marshall. Ed and Roxy welcomed us into their family and made us feel like family. We marveled at the many talents that Ed possessed. Roxy was the rose in his life and you could just see how much they loved each other. He will be solely missed by all but most by his loving family.

  2. Margaret Stevenson

    I really enjoyed getting to know Ed over dinner at the Ragozzinos after joining Roxy with Arbonne. We had great talks, shared experiences of teaching over good wine and food. Ed, you contributed so much to the arts in this community. I loved going to your plays, especially seeing Roxy fly over the audience in Peter Pan. You will be missed, but know you were loved by so many people,especially Roxy and your family.

  3. Ed Ragozzino (or, Mr. Ragozzino to those of us who were once his students) was one of a kind. He took a gigantic auditorium (at South Eugene High) that was far too vast to serve as a theater, with lousy acoustics, no fly space, little backstage, and turned it into the hottest ticket in Eugene—by using high school kids as actors, no less. How did he do that? It certainly wasn’t the big budget. It wasn’t the facilities. And it wasn’t the innate talent of the South Eugene student body, although perhaps at the time some of us thought it might be.
    Rather, he had the drive, the dedication, and the charisma to inculcate a culture of excellence in those whom he directed. Whoever we were, jocks, geeks, wallflowers, stage-struck wannabes, even future governors, he transformed us into actors, singers, dancers, stage hands. He taught us life skills that have stayed with us throughout our lives, whatever career we chose. I am a lawyer, and I haven’t acted onstage since 1965, but, thanks to Mr. Ragozzino, I don’t get stage fright in court, and whenever I hear an opposing counsel bore the jury to tears, I hear Mr. Ragozzino’s voice in my head, reminding to to pick up the pace (and rapidly snapping his fingers), as he so repeatedly reminded us. And then, I notice the jury sit up and listen.
    He transformed an entire community. Eugene was a lumber town, and a college town. Through his efforts, his success, and his thousands of students and protégés, he turned Eugene into a theater town. No one deserves more credit for the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, which was still just a distant dream of his when I got to perform in his plays at South Eugene.
    How did he accomplish so much? Much of it was talent (his, not ours). More of it was dedication and discipline. And a lot of it was creativity, such as when he took the entire cast of “Stalag 17” off to a camp in the Cascades for a weekend of C-rations and prison camp discipline, and rehearsals. We left South Eugene as a bunch of high school kids on the afternoon of the Columbus Day Storm of October, 1962. We returned on Sunday as a bunch of unwashed prisoners of war: the cast of a World War II prison comedy/melodrama.
    I have had a good and rewarding life, and I’ve received my share of honors, too. But I treasure none as much as the Order of the Golden Clout Nail, a plain little two-inch block of wood, painted gold, with a gold-painted clout nail stuck into the top. It was the award he gave us when we were nominated for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor or Actress, in South Eugene productions. At the awards dinner, he would explain that the award was inexpensive, the stage nails dirt cheap, but they represented recognition for work well done.
    Mr. Ragozzino has not died. He lives on in the lives of the thousands of us who were his students, the tens of thousands who got to see the productions he directed, and in the hearts of his wonderful family. And in the countless memories that come rushing back to me from nearly a half-century ago, every time I look at that golden clout nail in my study.

  4. Janet McNeil

    Unforgettable . Whether is was me as a 14 year old being intimidated by the greatest director in the world to experiencing the joy and excitement of finally being given major parts because of his confidence in me, I cannot forget the teacher who played a great part in molding my life. Right now, though, it is his character that I remember most.
    His courage in calling me to tell me he had not cast me in the part for which he had early on, sent me the script. I wanted the part badly and had even come from out of town to audition; he could have let me see the posting with the others. He didn’t.
    He made a very difficult phone call; what a loving gentleman.
    Roxy and Laura, you and your family are in my prayers.

  5. I was saddened to hear of Ed’s death.
    A few years after he left South Eugene High, I was offered the position of Director of Drama that had once been his and I held it for eight years. The honour of taking charge of the theatre that Ed Ragozzino made famous was one of the high points of my life.
    The contributions to theatre made by Ed during his long and active career can not be overstated. There simply was no one like him…

  6. Joe Davenport

    He brought theater into my life-as a 12 year old with tickets to final dress of Brigadoon-I was amazed. turns out that like much I love to do I wasn’t much good at it. but I truly enjoyed every moment at LCC. Heck I even enjoyed freaking out the Jr high kids working back stage on No No Nannett by sending them to the womens dressing room to retrieve the wireless mic we borrowed from the TV station.

    I was a grip and Ed put your faith to the test. Props master your list includes a Studebaker Big Six, a Model T and real silver on the tables. now lets go do “A Little Night Music” I haven’t set foot on a stage-front or back for 32 years. But I scrape up money for show tickets when ever I can.

  7. I have known Ed since the early 1960s and “acted” in two (or was it three?) of his plays. Jonathan’s comments about them are as I remember them too. Working with him was exciting. At the time I thought of him as very demanding, but always ready to work with a young actor to bring out his best, even in a bit part.

    The stars, like Jonathan, were more popular than the football players. Ed made us all good, even those who could not act! We knew, even then, that we were privileged to be part of casts and crews that sold out the musical in May year after year in that giant barn of an auditorium at South because Ed was a great teacher. We, his students, came and went, but he made the Drama Department special and through it the school as well.

    After he left South, he worked at Lane Community College, for a time was “the voice” of ads on the radio, ran small casts in supper clubs and on and on. But his most important contribution, after his work with all those high school students, was as a civic leader who moved others to actions that built the artistic and cultural world in Eugene, yes, including the Hult. He was a very active member of the Eugene Rotary Club and through it engaged in many of the community building activities that the club is known for.

    David got it right: There was simply no one like him. Ed, we will remember you. You are a big part of our heritage and will be important for generations who may know nothing about you, yourself, but will benefit from what you left behind.

  8. Barbara Shufelt Cross

    It’s a sign we are getting OLD!! The class of 1965 graduates!! Ed Ragozzino earned the OSCAR!!! I remember him well and all my years at SEHS were Blessed because of Ed, his fabulous Theater, and all of we students that were lucky enough to have been educated by him! I was a cellist in the Orchestra so I not only had the benefit from the Ragozzino Theater but from the Nathan Commack Conductor—what a PAIR!!!! The music and theater at SEHS were never better and left a fabulous legacy because of them!! It was a priviledge to be associated with Ed and Nathan!! We were better students and later better citizens because of Ed Ragozzino! I have spent several vacations in NY and value the Arts only because of the theater and musical background from my education at SEHS!! Thank you Mr.Regozzino and also Nathan Commack!! It doesn’t get any better!! Thanks for the making us appreciate the finer things in life!!! I wish you could be reeplaced for our grandchildren’s education and enjoyment in Theater and music!!!Barb Shufelt

  9. Brita Arcuri

    I will never forget when Ed coached me in acting! I was Princess Winifred in “Once Upon a Mattress,” at Sheldon High School! Elizabeth was Lady Larkin! I think it was the best show we ever did together! I remember that one night it was just me and Ed on stage, and he was coaching me through this really silly scene. He was such a theatre “big wig,” and I was this little high schooler actor – but he was thoughtful, patient, kind, and encouraging. He made me feel like I was a star on Broadway, and I just felt so priveleged to get his attention and direction!
    Every memory I have with Ed is warm and loving. He always made me feel like he was genuinely glad to see me. And boy did he raise an amazing daugher – Elizabeth! She has been a dear friend to me for years. You can tell she was a loved little girl, and I know she was the apple of her daddy’s eye! His character, humor, and genuiness was definitely passed along to Elizabeth. It’s the qualities they share that make them both such great people!
    I know my Mom was waiting at heaven’s gates to greet Ed with a hug! I am glad to know they’re together! I love you Ragozzino/Allen Family!

  10. Mary Keating

    After attending such an “Ed-worthy” Celebration of Life, I reflected on not only the influence he had on so many people but the breadth and depth of knowledge he brought to his profession. He always knew the right “schtick” to bring to the stage that would enhance every performance.

    As Student Director for “West Side Story”, I was able to observe his ability to manage people and situations. He was such a good manager and and leader that I mistakenly thought that that was the way every manager was. He addressed problems directly and appropriately as quickly as possible. He did it without hubris. That was one of the lessons he taught us in the way he lived his life. I never saw him impressed with himself except in a humorous way.

    In reflection, I will say that he provided a refuge for me and others that made high school bearable. The world of the drama department was the most magical and fulfilling place and appeased the pain of teenage angst while teaching the values and rewards of hard work.

  11. Don and Alice Porter

    We were pleased to be able to attend Ed’s memorial with his legions of loving family and friends.

    “Zichrono livracha.”

  12. Tom Durnell

    While Jon Hoffman said very eloquently almost everything I’d have liked to say, I would like to add two things:
    Ed, along with his fellow teachers in the Performing Arts Departments–at both South Eugene High and Lane Community College–created an environment in which we could succeed and encouraged us by every means to do so. I personally experienced a boost to my self confidence that has never left me. He raised us up deliberately, and by example as well.
    Ed’s generosity is another quality that sticks clearly in my memory. In High School and especially in College, he had a way of knowing when I was broke, and suddenly his lawn needed mowing, the blackberries cleared out, his garage re-organized or his house painted (this last I did twice, I think). I once saw him–just before a student had an important College audition–give that student “an old jacket that I was about to give to Goodwill” and do it so skillfully that the fellow never realized the jacket was brand new and fit him perfectly, even though he and Ed were nowhere near the same size. His breed was rare!

  13. Mark L. Sherman

    Ed Ragozzino was the most influential teacher in my life. He instilled in me a confidence and self-esteem that I had heretofore lacked. As a teen-ager I felt like a loner, an outsider…..until I fell under the good grace and and tutelage of Ed. It was in high school theater, having the experience of starring in a leading role in one of his serious dramas, that I began to emerge and develop.

    Later I would emulate this fine influence by majoring in Speech and Drama, earning a Bachelor’s degree and later a Master’s in Theater Arts. I followed Ed’s footsteps and taught Speech and Drama and headed the Drama Department of Marshfield H.S. in Coos Bay in the early 70’s.

    Eventually I changed careers, going on to further graduate school and becoming a school administrator.

    Ed taught me to believe in myself and to love learning. I am deeply indebted to him for changing my life.

    It was a great memorial Friday evening and an opportunity to see old friends.

    Thank G-d for Ed Ragozzino.

  14. Bryce Butler

    I last saw Ed at the SEHS 40th reunion for the class of ’67. We talked for a while and he was pleased to hear that I was still in theater, directing and performing professionally with my wife, Mara Neimanis, in Baltimore. His death has been haunting me since I learned of it.

    When I was a junior I had a non-speaking part in “Dark of The Moon. Then Ed cast me in a small part (contrary to Ed’s admonition that “there are no small parts, only small actors,” there are small parts) in his annual Eugene summer musical, “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” However I found myself unexpectedly on my own as my mother asked me to leave so I searched frantically for a job. I signed on to sell encyclopedias door to door, which meant I couldn’t do the musical. I was terrified to talk with Ed but I went in and told him my situation. He was sharply disappointed and asked why I hadn’t turned to him for help. It had never occurred to me but his generosity saying that touches me to this day. However the die was cast, there was no way to undo the situation.

    I took his theater class as a senior but didn’t try out for the fall comedy as I thought Ed was mad at me for quitting the summer show. When he asked if I was going to try out for the winter production I was surprised and eagerly auditioned. I was cast as Polpoch, one of the four singers in ” Marat Sade”. There are three things you should know about this production:
    1) This was the first amateur production of the play on the west coast.
    2) Ed put his whole reputation on the line to do the play despite strenuous objections from the school board and many parents.
    3) Ed, a reverent Catholic, was in serious conflict with himself over many of the negative things the play had to say about Chritianity. He was quite open about his conflicts with us in the cast. He had discussed them with his priest and others in his faith community. He cut some lines he felt were too blasphemous, but only after listening to our vociferous objections to the cuts. One line I remember he briefly restored but finally took it out. It was one of the most passionate intellectual exchanges I’ve ever had in the theater, and this was in high school! It gave me a profound respect for Ed. He saw an opportunity to direct one of the seminal works of theater of the 60’s, and fought for it with himself and the community, and carried the day. I’ve never forgotten the power of theater that was revealed to all of us in that production. Many people left the theater during the production finding it too disturbing and challenging, and not at all what they expected from a high school production. I remember feeling a great deal of satisfaction watching people walk out: they were reacting, snapped out of the usual audience lethargy which typcally attends a play. I will always be grateful to Ed for taking such a risk, and for setting such an amazing example for us in taking that risk.

    After graduating I took part in two other summer musicals Ed directed, “Half A Six Pence” and “West Side Story” before moving to Seattle. I remember Ed being disturbed that his production of “West Side Story’ never varied by more than a few minutes night to night. He worried that such consistency might mean the play had become mechanical. That he questioned his own directing during a successful run has been instructive to my own approach as a director to this day.

    But it was that production of Marat Sade that has kept me in theater all these years. Thanks Ed for being one of the most inspiring teachers I’ve ever had.

  15. Mary Albro Tiner

    I was so pleased to have the joy this last year to spend two different times with Mr. Raggs…..having run across his name in the Waldport phone book, where I now live, I called and was pleased to be able to spend an afternoon of chat, reminiscence and fun with him at the beach house. It was nice to meet Roxie and to see all the children grown and pictures of all, along with the Grandchildren as well. Our paths next crossed at the Class of 59′ reunion at the Country Inn the end of August where many were blessed to gather and we presented him with a plaque in honor of all that he had meant to and done for us all as young people. He was so kind and I had a good visit with him both times. Such wonderful memories and grand times. Oklahoma, South Pacific and behind the curtains. I spent most of my high school years in the Arts Dept. of SEHS and know that it molded what was to become my lifetime of joy’s….Theater, music and my art career. All were shaped by Mr. Ragozzino and his encouragement, work ethic and humor. I am full of joy for what he gave me and so many others. I am filled with sadness that his earthly time is over but know that he must be directing a grand production now. Thanks for it all……never forgotten. The Friday night Memorial was lovely and would have pleased him as I know it did all of us that were fortunate enough to attend. I thank his family for sharing that time with us all and wish them sympanthy and tender comfort in their time of loss.

  16. George Lauris

    “Eddie” as he was known to his friends and peers before taking the theater job at Eugene High School became “Mr. Ragozzino” to his students. In my junior year I wandered down from the west side of the building where football was played to the east end where the drama gang seemed to be having a lot more fun and no injuries. I remember struggling with some role during a particularly long and demanding rehearsal. A voice from the darkened auditorium called “Hold!” Silence.
    Footsteps approached the stage and Mr. Ragozzino was suddenly in my face. His only comment was: “If I wanted a parrot, I would have hired one.” With that single comment I learned an important ingredient to
    the strange world of acting and the theater. I went on to graduate from the U of O and later was fortunate to work with Ed as a colleague at Lane Community College where I continued to learn and was permitted to grow as a teacher and director.

    Ed’s passing is a sad event but his powerful and profound presence and influence lives through generations of students and audiences.

    I extend my condolences to his family and friends and share your sense of loss.

  17. Susan (Siegrist) Sciacca

    I am so heartbroken at “Mr. Ragozzino’s” (never was good at calling him “Ed”) passing. It just seems to me that there are some people that should always be there. You may not cross their path for years…but you know they are there nonetheless…and you promise yourself to look them up next time you’re in town.

    I was so overjoyed to see him at our last reunion (Class of 1964)…still slaying us with his wit and filling the room with electricity.

    Probably giving me a lot more credit for my dancing ability than I deserved, I was lucky enough to have been in each year’s school musical. But, I think one of the the most wonderful things about Ed was that he would make sure that at the end of each school year, he would make a point of casting many of the kids who weren’t in his productions in “This is Our Once a Year Day.” As many of you remember, he pulled out all the stops to make this an event to remember…maybe even more meaningful than our graduation ceremony!

    Weren’t we lucky to have known this great guy?! I will miss him dearly.

  18. My family and I give our deepest condolences to you.
    Even though I have only known Ed for about a year,
    Ed was a Great Director during my voice over training through his Year 2009 Class. Ed would ask me to pick it up from the last line and let’s do it again and again and again. Well, you get the point.
    Ed insisted on delivering the right kind of energy for the piece. He always encouraged me to study the lines and own it! Ed, introduced me to Don Ross of Don Ross Productions. Don is a great guy who knows his stuff! When Don & I finished my initial CD master, I hand delivered my CD to Ed at his Eugene home. As Ed listened you could see Ed visualizing the energy of the piece.
    He told me to break out the champagne because you have something that is marketable.
    Within a few months, I secured a gig for a commercial DVD voice over video stream.

    I will always appreciate how Ed wanted each of his students to succeed and how freely Ed shared his skill with others. He passed a little something to each of us.
    When each of us pay forward to one another,
    we will honor Ed and his life.

  19. To Roxy & Family,

    My condolences to all of you.
    Ed shared his voice over skill with me & others.
    He gave with his heart with unstoppable energy.
    As my director, he said Ron, let’s pick it up.
    Do it again and again and again to get it right.
    Introduced me to Don Ross Productions to cut a CD.
    When Don & I finished my master CD, I ask Ed if he would critique the work, Ed said yes.
    Once Ed listened to the work, he said it is time for you to break out the champagne, because you have a marketable product!

    I am thankful that I had the opportunity to meet and work with ED to help me focus on a natural talent that allowed me to step up & step out with my life.

    God Bless Ed Ragozinno!

    Ronnie Ray, Voice Talent

  20. Val Hoffman

    I just found out that Ed had died and found this site. I echo all that my brother Jon said about him. He had a great impact on my life and inspired me to become a theatre major in college. I remember what he put a lot of parents through making our costumes for The Music Man. They were given very detailed instructions of what to make. He always was clued into the little things…like you couldn’t wear a wristwatch in The Music Man! I still notice those types of details whenever I go to a play. He said in his theatrical voice “You always dress up when going to the theater.” Being in a Ragozzino play was a big deal at South–like being on the football team and it was a way that we all felt special. I cried my brains out after the Music Man was over because I was such a great experience– I think he told me not to sing and I was in the chorus!
    Remember the Earth Cry?
    Remember “Rabbit Rabbit?” If you don’t know about this, he told us to wake up on the first day of every month and say “Rabbit Rabbit” before you say anything else. It’s difficult but try it and think of Ed our beloved teacher who meant so much to all of us.

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