We at Oregon Ballet Theatre are deeply saddened by the loss this fall of two generous and steadfast supporters—Debi Coleman and Sue Horn-Caskey. Each in her own inimitable way blessed a broad spectrum of Portland’s arts and culture organizations with expert guidance and significant financial support.
Debi Coleman was a pioneer in the technology industry at Apple and subsequently in Oregon. Throughout her career she was a dedicated champion and mentor to women in technology; simultaneously, she was a “theater nerd.” As OBT’s second artistic director Christopher Stowell said, “Debi loved everything about show biz, the work, the creators, the performers. She loved being among us and it showed.” During her service as a member of OBT’s Board of Trustees, Debi offered plainspoken and direct input about tough business decisions. During the Great Recession which threatened so many of Portland’s art organizations, Debi’s financial support of OBT was crucial to the company’s survival at that time.
Sue Horn-Caskey also served on OBT’s Board of Trustees, and with her husband Rick was a consistent and generous donor with a particular passion for supporting live music in OBT’s performances. Sue was also a pitch-in-and-help volunteer in every organization she embraced. We have fond memories of her enthusiastic and unassuming help with ordering merchandise for OBT’s boutique, or gluing fabric to sets for a new production. For the last several years, using her considerable organizational skills and her essential graciousness, Sue helped OBT and many other Portland arts organizations build their networks of contacts and supporters through arts and culture initiatives at the University Club.
In Christopher Stowell’s words, “The Portland arts scene is immeasurably changed by Debi and Sue’s passing, but I hope they live on in all the artists and organizations that they loved and supported.”