Friends and family of the late Grace Lieberman are organizing a public memorial in her honor Sept. 1.
Lieberman, a longtime area performer and arts advocate, passed away at age 88 in April. Throughout her 40-year history living in Modesto, she had worked with nearly every area arts group, from Modesto Performing Arts to Townsend Opera and the Prospect Theater Project. She also served as the executive director of the now-defunct Stanislaus Arts Council for almost 35 years.
The open public memorial will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 1 at the State Theatre in downtown Modesto. The venue was a frequent stop for Lieberman, who held many of her long-running annual Senior Spotlight Talent shows there.
"She loved it here. She came (to the State) all the time. She was friends with so many people here, she just adored this place," said State Theatre Executive Director Sue Richardson. "This was her place. She was very involved, concerned, caring and protective of it."
Modesto actor and director David Barbaree is organizing the memorial with a committee of other friends and people in the arts community. The program is expected to include speakers, a number by the Modesto Symphony Chorus as well as other local performers. He said the second half of the memorial, after the prepared program, will allow members of the audience to come up and share memories or perform in Lieberman's honor.
"The people I've worked with all have their heart in the right place and want to honor Grace," he said. "I am feeling very close to Grace as I do it. It’s a pleasure to be able to do this for her."
Barbaree directed Lieberman in two productions for the Prospect Theater Project. He said they had initially hoped to do the public remembrance earlier, but her family and some other friends weren't able to attend until after August.
In lieu of flowers, Barbaree and the committee are asking people to make a donation to their favorite arts venue or organization.
"We suggest they donate to where they were the last time they saw Grace at an occasion, whether it be an art show or a music concert or theater performance," he said. "The last time they saw her publicly or a place they’ve run into her at multiple occasions."
Barbaree said there is also a continuing scholarship fund set up in her honor at California State University, Stanislaus.
At 1 p.m. Sunday the Silver Stars Senior Talent Show, which is taking the place of the Senior Spotlight, will be held at the State Theatre. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities' Stanislaus Senior Services Programs. The show will be dedicated to Lieberman, who last hosted the Senior Spotlight in 2016 when she retired the program after 35 years.