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Honoring Henry Dembowski ’60, ’62G

The Dembowski Family Theatre Endowment Fund

Over the years, Henry Dembowski ’60, ’62G served as a Viking volunteer in many facets of university life. He served as Annual Fund chairperson and member of the Salem State University Foundation, Inc., Salem State University Alumni Association Board, Friends of the School of Education, and SSU Board of Overseers.  

He played the role of auctioneer at the Fine Wines and Fabulous Finds Auction, spearheaded the planning for many reunions for the class of 1960, championed the Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund, hosted the annual 50th Reunion Society event during alumni weekend, led our 40th anniversary Salem State Series Honorary Committee as a co-chair, and was always there to support the university he loved and valued with his infectious energy and fierce advocacy.  

In addition to his immeasurable volunteer impact, Henry and his wife Claire established the Dembowski Family Theatre Endowment Fund in 1999 to provide resources to the Salem State theatre and speech communication department.  

“The Dembowski Family Theatre Endowment Fund has allowed us to continue producing exceptional performances, nurturing local talent and engaging audiences in meaningful ways,” shares Jerry Johnson, chair of the theatre and speech communication department. “Their belief in the power of theater has helped us bring stories to life, spark conversations and inspire countless individuals.”  

The Salem State community experienced a profound loss with Henry’s passing in September 2022. But through that loss, our community came together in Salem State’s Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts to honor this extraordinary Viking, leading to an incredible fundraising effort that will help theatre students meet their moment.  

In the spirit of Henry’s generous devotion to his alma mater, two anonymous donors issued a call to fellow graduates, friends, family, and theatre supporters in the spring of 2023 to join them in giving to the Dembowski Family Theatre Endowment Fund, with each new gift made matched dollar for dollar.  

As a result, $73,127.56 has been raised to date, a wonderful testament to Henry’s legacy and proof that when we work together, we can accomplish truly amazing things.  

Although he is deeply missed, Henry will never be forgotten and his unmatched passion for Salem State will live on through our award-winning theatre program for years to come.   

Dembowski Family Theatre Endowment Fund: Meeting the Moment for Salem State Theatre 

  • Supported the cost of hiring a professional stage director, Professor Esme Allen, to direct the third play of the 2020-2021 season, “Machinal” by Sophie Treadwell  
  • Aided the department’s musical production of “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine in spring 2022 with the hiring of a musical director, orchestra and a choreographer 
  • Hired a guest sound designer for the spring 2023 production of “OTHELLO”  
Alumni Relations
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