USITT is saddened to share the passing of noted theatre consultant, designer, educator, past USITT Board member, and USITT Fellow Dr. Robert (Bob) R. Scales. Scales was our 2019 Joel E. Rubin Founders Award winner. His grandson Sebastian Scales attended USITT19 to accept the award on his behalf. Members of the Institute have provided personal tributes to Scales which can be found below the following remembrance.
Scales was a Dean and professor at USC from 1993-2003. He also taught at Yale University, University of Minnesota, University of Washington, Hardin-Simmons University, Banff School of the Arts, and University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Working in technical production and lighting design, Dr. Scales held positions at various theatres, including Theatre Projects Consultants, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Stratford Festival Theatre of Canada, and Guthrie Theatre. He served on the Boards of USITT, the 24th Street Theater, Starlight Theater in San Diego, and LA Stage Alliance.
He retired from USC in 2003 and served as the Emeriti College Director, volunteer Associate Director for the Emeriti Center, and a leader on the Emeriti Center’s executive committee. USC presented him with the Paul E. Hadley Faculty Award for Service to USC in 2015.
Scales married Peggy Lynn Scales in 1957; the couple divorced in 1989. He married Marie Carolyn Suzanne Grossman-Scales in 1997; a writer and actress, her credits include the original Broadway production of The Lion in Winter; The Show-Off, starring Helen Hayes; and Private Lives, with Tammy Grimes and Brian Bedford. She also adapted a number of Feydeau farces for Broadway. She died of emphysema in 2010. His survivors include his son Robert (Debbie Jenkins-Scales), daughter Amanda Kathleen, brother John Jay Scales, sister Freda Suellen Scales, grandson Sebastian, and a niece and nephew.
Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Scales’ name to The Bob Scales and Suzanne Grossman-Scales Scholarship Fund at University of Southern California School of Theatre/Drama, The Suzanne Grossman Fund at National Theatre School of Canada, the Robert Scales Scholarship Fund at Oklahoma Baptist University, or the 24th Street Theatre in Los Angeles.
A complete obituary can be found here.
Personal Trubites from family and fellow USITT Members
“When he smiled or laughed, he always had a twinkle that shone, filling the room. If something needed to be done, he was your guy. He loved working on ‘things’ and getting projects done! He loved attending the theatre for shows, plays, musicals, etc… He enjoyed walking through museums or art galleries and seeing things that made him ‘think’. He was athletic and loved sport and play. He loved the great outdoors and nature. He believed in other people and their abilities to do great things and helped them discover this and achieve great things through their own efforts. He was confident but not arrogant and talented but not boastful. He was humble. He was a legend in the theatrical world/profession. He was adventurous!”
-Amanda, Bob Scales daughter (originally said in a statement)
“The consummate theatre production professional and everything you could ever want in a friend and colleague has left us for a new venue. Technical director, designer, problem solver, organizer, manager, professor, dean, theatre consultant, Bob Scales was always kind, ever generous, curious, giving, and concerned.
He brought out the best in any production—no matter the budget or the venue, Bob designed and brought to life better theatres for people on both sides of the curtain. He nurtured talents and helped create careers. He made every colleague and collaborator’s work better, brighter, and more thoughtful.
With Bob on the team every production meeting was illuminated by the crackling sparkle of his mind at work— devising yet another way to solve the challenge.
Look forward to more spectacular heavenly displays now that Bob is organizing the Scene Shop in the Sky, tinkering with the Silent Door Closure, checking the Spring in the floors, and finding a new and better uses for that illusive-but much needed widget: the Sky Hook.”
-Pat MacKay, USITT Fellow and Founder of LDI
“A tremendous blow and the loss of one of the Great Ones. Rarely, perhaps especially in these times, are we so privileged as to have a true and kind gentleman that we can call dear friend. I suspect I’ve known Bob for at least 40 years and never heard him utter an uncivil comment. Opinions oh yes he had them. Bob was articulate however with his inborn ability to make all welcome and correct with an innate smoothness that brought on positive results.”
-Tim Kelly, USITT Fellow and President of TK Project Management
“Bob was the epitome of a theatre professional and such a kind way of getting to that excellence”
-Richard Durst, USITT Past President; President Emeritus Baldwin Wallace University
“Bob was truly one of those very rare people who always delivered. It was such a privilege to work with him and be a friend.”
-Richard Pillbrow, USITT Fellow; Past Joel E. Rubin Founders Award winner
“Losing an old friend is especially trying, and I’m trying to deal with the loss of Bob Scales, perhaps the world’s number one gentleman.
Whatever he did he went about it quietly and humbly. He was a voice of reason in meetings, always calm, but always to the point.”
-Joel E. Rubin, USITT Founder and Fellow
“Bob was extremely influential in my life as a mentor and colleague.
I was a part time lecturer at USC and Bob made it possible for me to join the grad program and pursue my MFA while I continued to teach. As part of my studies, I went to the PQ in 1999. I returned with so much enthusiasm for the event that he took on the fabrication of the both for the following PQ.
Needless to say, Bob had a tremendous impact on my career and I’m sure that’s only one example of Bob’s kindness.”
-Debra Garcia Lockwood, CSU Fullerton Production Manager, Lighting Designer