Professor Fred Thury died peacefully on Monday morning at Sunnybrook Hospital after a 22-year struggle with leukemia and the aftermath of his treatments in the mid-1980s. He was 60. His last work as playwright and composer was a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, titled Comedy Errors, which opens on Friday, March 10, at the Vanier College Studio Theatre.
Right: Fred Thury
Professor Thury, also an actor and director, came to York University in 1970 to teach acting in the Vanier College course program, a course which he continued to teach until the revision of the college course program which resulted in Foundations courses. He has served as mentor to many generations of actors, directors and musicians in the last 36 years.
As Fredrick H. Thury he was the author of many children’s plays, including Nuts & Bolts & Rusty Things, Folk Tales Around the World, Behind the Wrinkles (performed by Lampoon Puppettheatre), and Nose to Nose (Young People’s Theatre); the latter two plays were workshopped with Vanier College Productions. He is also the author of the children’s book The Last Straw (1999).
Thury wrote the libretto for a theatre version of The Last Straw, performed by the Toronto Children’s Chorus with Ben Heppner at Roy Thomson Hall, and recorded for the album titled Along the Road to Bethlehem. The illustrated children’s book has had great success, and has been translated into more than seven languages. Thury inspired the development of inventive theatre productions at Vanier College and has encouraged the careers of many former students who have gone on to careers in theatre.
Outside of York, Thury staged numerous productions, including the 1988 Olympic torch relay from Signal Hill, Newfoundland to Calgary, Alberta, events at Massey and Carnegie halls, extravaganzas for symphony orchestras, and productions for Soundstream.
A memorial service wil be held today at 3pm (Mount Dennis United Church, 71 Guestville Avenue, Toronto. Those wishing to do so may make a memorial contribution to the York University Foundation (Fred Thury Award) or the Sunnybrook Women’s College Health Sciences Centre.