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Civic Leaders, Theater Volunteers Express Condolences About Baeza's Death

Leader of Novato Theater renovation effort died Saturday of lung cancer.

Novato Patch asked civic leaders and Novato Theater volunteers to respond about , who was spearheading the campaign to renovate and reopen the long-closed theater on Grant Avenue.

Michael Frank, City Manager, City of Novato:

"On behalf of the City of Novato, I want to send our condolences to Bernice’s family and everyone else who knew her. Bernice cared deeply about keeping art local and grassroots. I, like many others in Marin, was energized by her passionate commitment to the local community.  It is my belief that her vision will mobilize and motivate the passionate Novato Theater restoration volunteer base to continue her efforts. I will miss you, Bernice."

Denise Athas, Mayor:

"It is with great shock and sadness that I heard of Bernice's passing. Her passion, creativity and caring for our community was overwhelming. I would hope that people would rise up and make her vision and passion a reality and follow through with opening our theater. In knowing her, I am sure she would not want her passing to affect the value that this theater could add to our Novato community. She will be missed so much."

Jeanne MacLeamy, Novato City Council member:

“The best tribute that we can pay Bernice and her family is to continue with the direction she envisioned and restore the 'hometown' Novato Theater into a vibrant destination magnet for downtown.”

Eric Lucan, Novato City Council member:

“Bernice will be greatly missed in our community.  Given her background in theater renovations, I think a fitting analogy to describe Bernice is that she was both a Producer and a Director.  As a Producer, she knew how to get the job done — from assembling the right team to solving any problems and challenges that came her way.  As a Director, she was able to inspire others and 'tell a story' of how theaters play an integral part in the community.  Very few people can Direct and Produce, but Bernice mastered both with ease.”

Susan Bell-Warner, Director of Marketing, Novato Theater

“Bernice attracted volunteers who shared her passion for revitalizing independent theater and historic downtowns. Her proven track record, combined with a dedicated volunteer committee, laid the strong groundwork for this project. Through Bernice's enthusiasm and hard work of the volunteers, the community became engaged, enabling the nonprofit to buy the theater building from the City of Novato. We will continue on the well-thought-out course of raising funds to redesign, rebuild and reopen the long-shuttered downtown theater."

June Haugen, Novato Theater committee

"Bernice shall be greatly missed, and our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to her family during this very difficult time. Her vision and passion will live on in the continued efforts to reach our goal to make this dream a reality."

Rob Sundberg, Novato Theater committee

"Bernice was a force of nature; she'd listen, and then distill our thoughts into the most important details. She had a dream in Larkspur, and succeeded; our job is now to complete both her, and our dream here. Larkspur is all the better for her hard work in bringing their theatre back to life. Now, we have the opportunity to do the same thing here, for our town, for our posterity, for each one of us... Her passing makes me all the more determined to contribute as much as I can to the hard work necessary to eventually see the Novato Theatre refurbished, re-opened, and functioning for our entire community. She will be greatly missed."

Dietrich Stroeh, Novato Theater committee:

"A very driven and passionate person, especially about the Novato Theater project. She will be missed."

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For a remembrance about Baeza's contributions to Larkspur and specifically the Lark Theater, read this Local Voices blog post from Pat Ravasio.

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