Geoff Webber, 84: Brought his love for theater from England

Geoff Webber never strayed too far from drama. Throughout a life’s career in aeronautical engineering, he gravitated to the stage.

As a youth in England, he participated in school plays and in adulthood he continued acting in local drama troupes. And when he and his family moved across the Atlantic to Georgia in 1967, he brought that enthusiasm with him when he sought out Atlanta’s theater community.

In 1972, while still an aeronautical engineer at Lockheed, Webber was part of a group that established the OnStage Atlanta Theatre Company. Over the years, he served as president of the company, was active on its board and acted in a number of productions.

“He loved the art of the theater,” said his daughter, Melanie Webber, of Culver City, Calif. “He loved language, the plays, the people and the community it all created.”

Geoffrey Walter Webber, of Dunwoody, died Friday from complications of cancer. He was 84.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Thursday at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church. A second memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. on Sept. 7 at OnStage Atlanta in Decatur. Cremation Society of Georgia was in charge of arrangements.

Webber, a native of Yealmpton, England, started his career in aeronautics just before his 17th birthday, his family said. He became an engineering apprentice for an aircraft company, where he worked part-time. As part of the apprenticeship, he also attended a polytechnic school to earn his engineering degree. Thanks to a scholarship, he was then able to enroll at Imperial College London, where he graduated in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree.

Working as an aerodynamicist while living in Weybridge, he helped develop a drama group, his family said. While it wasn’t likely he would have taken up acting as a career, he kept it close to his heart. When the family relocated to Dunwoody, he was often cast in plays, but also did commercials and voice-over work.

“He was actually in a movie in 1979, ‘The Prize Fighter,’ with Don Knots and Tim Conway,” said his son, Jeremy Webber, of Atlanta. “My brother Timothy was also in that movie and they both had speaking parts.”

But it wasn’t the roles he played that kept him coming back for more, his daughter said.

“What really drove him was a real love for the work,” she said. “He loved the arts and he loved to support organizations that supported the theater, like the symphony.”

Building sets was another favorite activity, whether he was in the production or not, his children said. One of Webber’s last “big outings,” his daughter said, was to see a play at OnStage in its new location on East Ponce de Leon Avenue.

“He was still very much a supporter and over the years, he was pretty much involved with every single aspect of the theater,” his daughter said. “Whether it was marketing, fund-raising, putting together business plans, selling tickets, finding costumes, whatever it was, he was involved.”

In addition to his daughter and son, Webber is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Patricia Webber; a second son, Timothy Webber of Indian Bayou, La.; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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