The Village Players — and the community it’s served for nearly 70 years — lost a very special person this past Friday, January 23rd. Joseph W. Owens, better known as Jay, the box-office guy.
Jay was much more than the box-office guy, even though that’s the position he held at the theater for the last 17 years. His parents, Joseph A. and Elise were founding members of The Village Players in 1947. Jay, quite literally, grew up in the theater and was fully participating by the age of 10. Sixty-one years later he remained a board member and head of the box-office, greeting our patrons at nearly every single performance.
He was, aside from the stone walls of our building’s exterior, the last remaining relic from the earliest days of our group still standing and active behind the scenes. We would look to him for guidance and information on just about everything related to the business. He had his own stoney exterior, however, and despite his ubiquity, I don’t think too many of us could say we knew him all that well. He had a polarizing personality; with a wit and charm about him that could easily go over some people’s heads. He was a perfectionist, which is why he chose to hold on to the hardest job in the theater for so long, sacrificing an implicit desire for a few more shots in front of the spotlight.
In fact, Jay was brought into the spotlight one last time just this past January 9th, on opening night of our current show. He was presented with the addition of his name to our plaque of honorary members who’ve dedicated years of service to The Village Players. He had such a good time, he told the show’s director he wants that to happen before EVERY performance this run!
The memories and stories Jay shared with us will be everlasting. We will miss him dearly, but he will be on stage with us from now on… in one form or another.
Jay’s sister, Denise Willoth recognized he had a never-ending love for The Village Players and told us if any one would like to make a memorial contribution in Jay’s name to the playhouse, please direct it to the Building Fund.
The Village Players
PO Box 444
Hatboro, PA 19040
The family can be contacted through:
The Owens Family
C/O Denise Willoth
11 Snowden Place
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003