Summary

Birth:
10 Nov 1949 1
Bowie, Texas 2
Death:
December 2, 1976, 10:10 p.m. 3
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Renee Meeks nee Gagnon 2
Full Name:
Renee Meeks 1
Birth:
10 Nov 1949 1
Bowie, Texas 2
Female 2
Death:
December 2, 1976, 10:10 p.m. 3
Death:
December 2, 1976, 10:10 p.m. 4
Lubbock Methodist Hospital 4
Cause: Sepsis complications of surgery. 4
Death:
03 Dec 1976 5
03 Dec 1976 6
Dec 1977 1
Lubbock Methodist Hospital 5
Very late Friday nite at Lubbock Methodist Hospital 6
Methodist Hospital, Lubbock, Texas 2
Cause: Final sequela of sepsis complication follwing surgery. Fact reporter witnessed full hospitalization as stated before. 5
Cause: Final sequela of sepsis complications of surgery 6
Cause: Sepsis complications from surgery 2
Residence:
Place: 2015B 10 St, Lubbock TX 79401 2
From: 1975 2
To: ca 11/19/1976 2
Residence:
Place: Lubbock, Texas 2
To: November, 1976 2
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Birth:
Mother: Mrs. Jaqueline (Jackie) Gagnon 2
Father: Victor William (Bill) Gagnon 2
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Occupation:
Actress 2
Education:
Institution: Texas Tech University 7
Place: Lubbock, Texas 7
Education:
Institution: Texas Tech University 2
Place: Lubbock, Texas 2
Burial:
Peaceful Gardens Memorial Park, Woodrow, Lubbock, Texas 2
Press Coverage:
Sheridan's Ride, Jack Sheridan - Theater column - Lubbock Avalance Journal 2
Social Security:
Last Payment: Lubbock, TX 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-4177 1

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Sources

  1. Social Security Death Index
  2. Contributed by lexusdoorA009
  3. Obit, Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Sat. AM, Dec. 4, 1976, pg. 16-A — Contributed by lexusdoorA009
  4. I revise the date based on recovery and review of Meeks' obituary [Lubbock Avalance Journal, Saturday a.m. Dec 4, 1976, pg. 16-A]. Prior assertions from memory based delayed Sheridan publication causing his eulogy to mistate dates. See funeral Story. — Contributed by lexusdoorA009
  5. Dage by Fold3team is off by one year--please delete in lieu of date revision & sourced info given this date--i.e., December 3, 1976. Note also byline Sheridan,12/6/76 LubbockAvalanceJournal days after the death, 2 after the funeral — Contributed by lexusdoorA009
  6. I was present thru course of her full hospitalization & final vigil; the last to see her alive; first together with staff to see her expired. Was requested and complied with doctors request for consent to discontinue life maintenance. — Contributed by lexusdoorA009
  7. Lubbock Avalanche Journal - obit. — Contributed by lexusdoorA009
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Stories

We worked at the Hayloft Dinner Theater together and she was like a big sister to me! I loved her dearly and often wonder about her daughter Michelle. Renee took care of me when I was pregnant with my son and she passed away about three weeks before he was born. She actually passed away in 1976 not 1977. She was such a good person! I think of her often!! I miss her very much!!

What days those were--but kind of sad now--there in the loft with Renee, Bec, Jerry, ... and all the gang (and let us not leave out Les, my secret nemesis), both from Lubbock and visiting to perform from California! Renee seemed to be a person that no one did not like. I, too, wonder what ever happened to Michelle Christine; and whether or not she would like to get the artifacts of her mother's legacy. I recently found out that Renee's father/Michelle's grandfather, Victor (Billl) Gagnon, a captain and Korea War veteran passed away and lies in soldier's field in the same cemetery in which Renee was laid to rest. I don't know what became of Jacqueline, Bill's wife. Maybe someone in Lubbock--even Becky maybe--might see this and be able to fill in some of the missing details. Bec I knew about your son-to-be but never about the nexus in time between his arrival and Renee's departure.

Hi! I am Aimee Ocampo. I am Michelle's 1st cousin. Michelle lives in Colleyville, TX and I live in Little Elm, TX. I know she would love the artifacts of her mother's legacy. I took care of Jacqueline, "nanny", for several years until her death. She died in a nursing home in Plano, TX on 2/12/10. Please contact me.

Hi Aimee. I'm so glad you posted. Would still love to get an e-mail or something for Michelle. I think I have a couple of Playbill's from the Hayloft. After Renee passed I had a lot of her things, photos and mementos. Best I remember I gave them to Steve not Michelle's Dad. I completely lost contact with Renee's parents. I went by to see Michelle a few times after her Mom passed and then she went to live with her Dad. She was with her grandparents most of the time "The Gagnon's". I know that Renee loved her very much. I'm curious who LexusdoorA009 is? There was a guy named Charles Luxenburg that took a lot of pics during that time period at the Hayloft. He is on Facebook and we are Friends. His name is Robert Armin now. There was also a guy named Larry Eisenberg and John and Marybeth Bratcher I think. Dana Galloway and of course Jerry but spacing his last name and yes Les of course. She worked very closely with an actress named Kathleen Freeman who was a very well known character actress of the day. Gosh there were a lot of people Renee performed with!! She was an amazing woman. She will always hold a try high place in my heart and because of her I really feel I was able to get my life back on track. Hardly a month goes by that I don't think of her at least once. One time she was working at a Dinner Theater in Amarillo and I hitchhiked to see her. OMG she was soooooooooo mad at me. I was only 17 at the time. I think she either brought me home or made someone take me back to Lubbock. So sorry to hear about the passing of her parents. I remember they were wonderful people and were devastated when she passed. I think I remember there home being right off of University. I live in LA and have pretty much since 1987. I'm currently working in Hawaii. Ironically still working as an Assistant which is how I first met Renee. I was her assistant. I also did her Hair and Makeup every night. She was the first person who introduced me to the Eagles. The memories are flooding back!! I slept on her couch for awhile too while I was pregnant. You can find me on Facebook as Becky Mathis Richardson Pentland.

Becky, that Steve name rings familiar but Aimee might have been too young so long ago to remember.... That picture taker, Charles...Robert: was he pro or aspiring pro photographer back then? I'm wondering if he might be associated with some unsigned publicity proofs in the package I've been talking about? Does he have a Web site? Those other names you mentioned: weren't they all stage actors? Some other, then well-known, Hollywood "star" performers also played the Hayloft, maybe before your time. Virginia Mayo, I guess, would top the list as a big time film actress; then there was: DeForest Kelly (Star Trek's Dr.McCoy/Bones); Joe E. Ross (oops! "Car 54 Where Are You?); Pat Buttram (Mr. Haney on "Green Acres"); Peter Lupus ("Mission Impossible", Champion Body Builder, PlayGirl mag's first centerfold ... a super nice family guy after all...and where the play itself was the star: Agatha Chriistie's "The Mousetrap" with its combined Texas-California cast--I still remember the moustache-tweaking line that nightly cracked everyone up: Spoken in fashion of Lugosi (Dracula): "I prefer the Ritz-ah 'otel." Boy, was Les annoyed at paying royalty on that play according to that one person who could always nonchalantly smooth his feathers by ruffling them, and leave him nonplussed at the same time...Renee had that way of so getting over on people. Oh, about J.E. Ross leaving Les in the lurch: my recollection varies somewhat from what seems to have become common concensus about Ross' walking off the show.. As I recall, Ross did show, and did play the role at least once (maybe a couple more) in "Don't Drink The Water" .I don't know exactly but I believe a problem (or "issue" as some like to euphemize) was probably related to Ross's tendency to use saucy (read: rude, crude, and offensively inadept) language on stage; and that it rolled so trippingly off his tongue ... to the point that a parting of ways was likely in everyone's best interest, despite having to rush a replacement show into production during "dark" days. Contractually speaking, I did hear talk of Les' lawyer succesfully applying Texas' well known Long-Arm (of the Law) statues in order to secure return of wage payments and expenses absconded back to California.

Sheridan/s Eulogy

Lubbock, Texas

Sheridan eulogy

Following is the transcription of the image at left, as mentioned. Jack Walrath Sheridan passed away in Amarillo, Texas in 1987. 

Monday, December 8, 1976                                    West Texas Times

Sheridan’s Ride

by Jack Sheridan

      Time and again throughout the history of man on earth we have heard the expression that "God moves in mysterious ways …." Most of the time you and I as His children accept, without question, this reasoning, Sometimes it is totally acceptable; other times it puzzles and seems inexplicable. Mystery and His purpose are not always understandable to those mortals of us.

      What I am trying to say, and sad and puzzled am I, is […] the weekend death of a vibrant young woman, beautiful, high sense of humor, kindness, warmth, gentleness, […] the passing of 27-year-old actress Renee Meeks of this city, of complications following surgery.

      These remarks are personal in the extreme, for I loved Renee and did not even know of her death until a close friend of hers called me in the midnight hours Friday to tell me.

      Renee Meeks, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Gagnon, 2503 25th St., was, beyond a doubt, the most gifted actress in this community. Her scope of theater was all-sweeping. I first saw Renee perform at Texas Tech University Theater and she was as the arrow that hits the dead center of the target.

      Then, she went on to roles at the Lubbock Theatre Centre and the Hayloft Dinner Theater, where she was not only a stunning character actress but served that organization also as a stage manager and public relations lady day and night.

      Renee was the kind of person whose voice on the telephone was, enough to make anybody's day. A time spent with her was time well rewarded. I fell in love with her (and I mean this) some time ago and I still glow with my love.

      It was no secret that we were close and every time that she completed a performance in a Hayloft play, with my table at the ringside, and was taking her enthusiastic bows, she blew a kiss to me. Those are kisses I shall remember.

      Renee went on the "road" with her acting. She played the dinner theater in Amarillo and was a favorite in St. Louis,·Mo.

      Renee had been married. She is survived by her parents, a sister of this city, Mrs. Vicki Bush, and a small daughter, Michelle.

      Everything Renee Meeks did, her speech, her movements, her acting, was that of excellence. There was a whole world open to her, a full-flowering blossom to pick. She underwent surgery and complications therefrom claimed her last Thursday night.

      Somehow I can't accept the fact that Renee Meeks is no longer with us. It is as if some cruel and gigantic hoax has been perpetrated by some foolish man.

      But, alas, it is true. All that loveliness, all that talent, all that vibrant and electric personality is gone and Peaceful Gardens Cemetery enshrouds the lady.

      I said that man has always said "God moves in mysterious ways" as I began. In this instance, with Renee, why did He snatch her home at the peak of the flowering of that talent which He gave her?

      No answer, I suppose. There is left but a void where a marvelous, blessed, desirable woman was. I feel lonely without the knowledge that Renee Meeks is around “doing her thing." I can't quite understand a world without her. Whatever the pattern was, it has been fulfilled and left us with only memories of her contributions.

Re Sheridan's eulogy, Meeks' d.o.d., a poignant send-off.

Lubbock, written from Sacramento

By Steve on 23 Mar 2013--

    The facts pertaining to Renee Meek's date of death have been complicated somewhat by reliance on Jack Sheridan's eulogy in order to self affirm recollection by this reporter of the actual date of her passing … the sad knowledge of that dark, barely December Thursday once burnished so deeply as to imagine it could never escape recall or ever hope to be forgotten.

    However, based on today’s recovery and perusal of the newspaper obituary itself [Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Saturday Morning, Dec. 4, 1976, pg. 16-A], it is now clear that Jack's article -- where he speaks of hearing news of her death from Renee's “very close friend” – speaks in reference to the “midnight” hours twenty four hours after her demise, not the midnight hours near the actual time of her passing, as might seem the more likely.

    The original, Dec. 3, error also arose from less-than-complete recollection (until reminded by the obituary) of the final arrangements discussion to which this writer was a witness—an admittedly overwrought witness following a two-week sleepless vigil and ensuing initial stages of anguish. In that regard, my memory again fell short in that while I correctly remembered discussion of unavailability of the large Broadway Church of Christ auditorium on that Sunday, Dec. 5, I failed to remember an equally difficult problem that prevented deferring the rite until the following Monday, as would typically be the “Sunday solution” for untimely deaths.

    The problem, it was feared, was that a workday funeral would impose unduly upon what might turn out to be very large numbers wanting to pay respects to the departed local entertainer; one who was known by TV, sight, and touch to so many. So, in spite of the extra effort it would require, the decision was made to let the final rites go forward on Saturday, scarcely more than a day and a half after Renee’s passing.

    That decision proved to be an insightful one. Following services in a sanctuary (and parking lot) filled beyond capacity, a very long and growing procession proceeded out on Broadway and south on Avenue Q, with vehicles spontaneously diverting and joining the procession all along the way south to the highway leading from the city to the cemetery; a sunny, sad parade stretching to a point where procession’s end extended beyond sight of its beginning.

    It’s the way Lubbock was in those days. Renee could not have departed the world in a better place!

    PS: As to who the “very close friend” was who informed Mr. Sheridan on that late Friday night, I now strain to recall whether or not it was I, her closest “friend,” who made that call. At the time she died, only two others (sans hospital staff, her parents) knew of the event … and only a couple more shortly after. Knowing Sheridan’s and Renee’s mutual occupational affection, it would have been like me to want to inform him even if it meant persisting until late to find him available to answer; and also like me to endeavor to remain so familiarly un-identified – I would suppose that Jack would never have published without confirming; or without having really been introduced earlier to that close friend.

    Conversely, as to how such a contact could be so blurred in memory, perhaps it’s the dread of having been privately thought, not so figuratively, to have been that so-oddly contrived gigantically cruel and foolish hoaxer – a Macbeth of sorts who has murdered one man’s joy. But, then, I might have merely informed Jerry, or Becky, or someone else at the Loft who then passed the word.

Hoping for Stars in Amarillo

Amarillo, Texas

reneericktwofatescross.jpg

Before the production run, 6 Rms Riv Vu (please open “…Squire” Playbill picture; see red heart), which would eventually prove Renée’s unintended swan song as a circuit stage performer, the ending days of the Hayloft DT were viewed with trepidation, but also as a turn of fortune that could and would be overcome with effort, flexibility – and the help of friends.

 

Indeed, it was not that long before she “performed” a commercial TV spot that proved an immediate seller (and could well have smoothed entrée onto other, perhaps many, near and far term, lucrative spokesperson opportunities; but, alas, which also demonstrated the value of having an agent or advocate in that, what was (by the merchant’s own admission) a spot certain to have an extended run, was contracted for a nice flat fee, but without copy right or provision for residuals.

 

When I drove Renee to Amarillo for an interview and hopeful reading we approached it as both business and also adventure,  stopping  also at Palo Duro Canyon to investigate professional opportunities in connection with the (largely amateur) summertime pageantry there.  

 

Anyway, when she landed a role and I first saw the Country Squire Playbill, the audience warm-up entertainment ensemble pictured on the back did not seem to merit much more than a glance. Little could I have imagined a twilight-zone-like manifestation there that would not come to light, as more or less a remembrance of Renée, until some 37 years later when I pulled from storage and perused that Playbill among the items from Renée bound for donation to her now-adult daughter.

 

 I had long known of western Texas’s special status among the regions of Texas as a location well-endowed with exceptional young people – as might be expected in the state’s region of statistically highest average per-capita income. And, without exception I expect that Renée almost certainly met and would have been impressed with the Country Rogues whom she followed on stage. But to imagine that she would meet a person among that group,  on a comedy stage, whose destiny from that point, like hers,  would also end in unimagined, career ending  tragedy … ?

 

Such a person is noted in the picture by a blue star … the Texas Tech student who achieved his goal of graduating there and eventually joining NASA in the astronaut corps where, as USAF Colonel Rick Husband, Commander of mission STS-107, he died with his crew in the Feb. 1, 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia return-to-Earth entry catastrophe. 

Bio:  http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/husband.html

 

bec, Edwards (see pic) should fill the space. An easier-laughing, cheerier, wide-eyedier fellow than Jerry Edwards, a body was not likely to meet. Never an unkind word for anyone, even for Les ... but with a chuckle.

Renée Meeks was master nonpariel combining inscrutability with the common touch. Perhaps that was a downfall, always playing such irreconcilable parts, seldom playing a true-to-life scene whether on stage or in her own, real life's play: the clown's tragic condition. Speaking of clowns, and music, she once brought back a song, "Send In the Clowns" from A Little Night Music--it was after a short trip to Los Angeles--which I found very appealing in an ironically touching kind of way. As for who (in the song, hence of either of us) it was in mid-air and who on the ground, I am not sure she really ever understood for sure which, or when, but it did intrigue her I could tell; and, in retrospect, events seemed to be leading her to the beginnings of an answer until, too soon, it all came crashing down for good. I sometimes tend to be more at home with treatises than comments, so I hope all this is comprehensible. As for Eagles--can I say this--I hope I can still get credit for at least "One Of These Nights," which was to become her little anthem (as well) before passing Eagles on to you--what an excruciatingly alluring song of passion that was--perhaps none more evocative before or since; but also what a somber and disillusioning set of album tracks it came with: the very antithesis of idealized attractions. Anyway, well do I remember back when, and inadvertently (surreptitiously) and most apologetically, slipping in or re-cuing the tape in the little yellow Beetle we sat in after curtain to discuss how the show went that night. And the next... Maybe she already told you, but Michelle got the items a while back. She said she was appreciative but seems to have had little time, even if any inclination, for any followup or feedback. I sense she has much to do and much more to think about or struggle with--as might well be expected, all things considered. Bec, you may drop a line if you want about these or general matters; or not. I never saw much of interest in the "social" Internet thing, but decided to give it a try and open on facebook recently...mostly just to impart a little facefun. Glad to see that you have gotten on so famously out west and abroad, you and your family. You deserved good things to come you way. I have noticed how Facebook seems to be a non-coed thing with grown-up types; so I observe a rule to let ladies go first; and keep out where I am likely to be persona non-grata. Nuff said.

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