It is with great sadness that Shakespeare & Company announces the passing of two of its most beloved friends and long-time Board members, Frances Martinson and Josephine Murray. Both of these remarkable women were tireless champions of the arts, and their contributions to our company – and other cultural organizations around the country – have created an indelible legacy of support. Shakespeare & Company celebrates the lives of these two amazing individuals.
Frances Martinson lived a vibrant life as a lawyer, community trustee, and mother. After earning her LL.B. (J.D.) at Columbia Law, she became partner in the New York law firms of Sirota, Bernstein & Steyer and Steyer & Sirota, where she practiced with her brother and mentor, Murray Steyer. In addition to Shakespeare & Company (whose cause she and her late husband Paul championed together), she served as a trustee of The Joseph Martinson Memorial Fund, The Edith Wharton Restoration, The Dance Theater of Harlem, The American Folk Art Museum, and The Pearl Theatre Company.
“Frances embodied the passionate belief and ardent commitment that allowed the Company to flourish over the years,” says Board Chairman Richard A. Mescon. “She played an important role during our 35th Season Gala celebration this summer. We are deeply saddened by her loss and will miss her independent voice greatly. We are blessed to have had her many years of service and support.”
Dr. Josephine Lee Murray, “Josie” to her friends, was one Boston’s leading philanthropists. Her support extended beyond the arts: Dr. Murray was fervently committed to the prevention of nuclear war and environmental protection. She was a dedicated supporter of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Marlboro Music Festival, Apple Hill Concerts, the Boston Camerata, The Boston Philharmonic, the Boston Opera Company, the Boston Lyric Opera, A.R.T, and Revels. Josie’s Cafe, located in the lobby of the Tina Packer Playhouse, was named in her honor.
“Josephine Murray was one of our earliest visionaries who supported Shakespeare & Company throughout her life,” says Mescon. “She came to an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dreamin 1978. The Box Office was a card table in the driveway then, and the cash register was a shoebox. Tickets prices were around $5 a head. Josie left a large check, which the company used to plant a vegetable garden, which fed them through the winter, and to hold a stage fighting workshop.”
Both Frances and Josie are very much on our minds and in our hearts. We are grateful and honored to have had them as our close friends.