I learned how to be fearless by working for Ed Noonan. He had just volunteered to lead the Myrna Loy out of financial disaster in 2000 when I started writing press releases and PR for him. I had seen him play Ganzalo in ‘The Tempest’ up in the Quarry, but didn’t know him well. I quickly learned that this man, with the sad-sack eyebrows and the ready smile, was neither sad nor placating—he was a deeply genuine combination of the sorrow bred of compassion, and the smile of someone who knows joy.
Ed, the board, and the Helena community quickly dug the Myrna out of its financial hole, and Ed set his sights on much loftier goals: producing ballet performances in the legislative halls of the Capitol; an aerobatic dance performance off the Craig Bridge to celebrate the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition; staging plays with Helena Theater Company; commissioning Richard Swanson to create the “Flamenco” sculpture on our northwest corner… This list goes on. His dreams were bigger than his head. He was constantly aggravating the staff: You want us to do whaaat? And the board: How are we going to pay for that? And donors: You’re asking for how much?
Fearless. Because he let his imagination lead, he considered every open space a possibility. (A stage, a corner park, a person’s heart—any opening presented a possibility for something grand to happen.)
It’s not that he was brave enough to anger or aggravate people. Anyone can do that. He had a child’s courage of creativity and the sage’s endurance to make it be so. For ten of the last 20 years I labored in his wake, and for the last five I have followed in his footsteps here at The Myrna Loy.
It takes tremendous courage to embody creativity, compassion, and light. The only way to teach that is by example. And so have we all learned from Ed. Thank you, brother.