Wallace Henry Coberg (April 30, 1948 – November 18, 2011)
Wallace (Wally) Henry Coberg passed away suddenly Friday, November 18th at his home in Bolton Hill, Baltimore, the result of apparent heart failure. At the time of his death Wally was by his own proclamation the happiest he had ever been in his life. He had found new love and new purpose and will be remembered by all who loved him for a contagiously unbridled passion for life and his work.
Wally Coberg spent his entire life in theatre, either front-of-house as a manager, or backstage as a designer. On stage his work has been seen in theatres nationwide and internationally, including Center Stage, the Louisville Ballet, the New York City Opera, as well as the Virginia, Baltimore, Boston and Vienna (Austria) Operas. On the road, audiences saw his sets for Dial ‘M’ for Murder starring Roddy McDowall, and on ice as part of Walt Disney’s Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. He has designed productions in Las Vegas, as well as creating themed environments for Busch Gardens Tampa and Williamsburg, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Hollywood. He was Assistant Designer at the Vienna State Opera and Resident Designer for the Opera Company of Boston. His knowledge of Christmas has been on display in retail centers around the world, as well as in the New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Mexico City productions of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the world famous Rockettes. As a filmmaker, his award-winning dramatic short, Incident, has been seen on PBS and at the Kennedy Center. He taught at Towson University, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University.
Wally is survived by his brother Don Coberg, sister-in-law BJ Hallahan Coberg, nephew Marine Cpl. Jon Coberg, and nieces Mary Elizabeth Coberg and Jessica Coberg Lamoureux. His remains will be laid to rest alongside his parents in Bel Air, MD in a private family ceremony. A full public memorial tribute to Wally’s life and work is currently being planned by his family and closest friends, to be held after the holiday season and once his nephew returns from service in Afghanistan.
Wally’s family feels strongly that the greatest tribute to his life and creativity that touched so many is embodied in the two documentary film projects he was currently working on – The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe and Popcorn Palaces: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of America’s Historic Movie Theatres. His family and the group of close friends and colleagues who were working with Wally on these projects are committed to seeing them through to completion in his memory.
Earlier this year, Wally’s Poe project, a lifelong pursuit of his, was awarded one of only a handful of prominent “Media Makers” development grants by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was working on a follow-up application for the NEH’s full production grant and that process will be continued by his colleagues.
Recently though it was Popcorn Palaces that had become Wally’s own legacy piece. He would often recall his earliest memories of childhood experiences in grand theatres and cite those experiences as his inspiration for a life in theatre and the arts. It was this project that had infused a new sense of purpose and passion in Wally. With a long list of high-profile connections and supporters beginning to gather around Wally’s vision, he was making tremendous progress toward realizing the start of production on the film at the time of his death. Accordingly, the family requests that anyone wishing to make a gift in Wally’s memory please direct their contributions to the Center for Independent Documentary. A donate link can be found at www.popcornpalaces.com.
The family requests that all inquiries and interest regarding ongoing development of the films be directed to Wally’s close friend Sean Brescia who was working with him and is now coordinating these efforts on behalf of Wally. Sean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.