Remembering Richard Mawe (1929–2022)

HB notes with sadness the passing of our President Emeritus, Dr. Richard Mawe. We join Richard’s family in sharing this remembrance of a life well lived.

Richard “Dick” Mawe, brother, uncle, companion, professor, castmate, colleague, and friend, died peacefully on October 7, 2022 at 93 (DOB 4/16/29). Richard was born and raised in West New York, New Jersey, where he attended St. Joseph’s grammar & high schools. He went on to receive BS (1950) and MS (1951) degrees from Fordham University, a PhD in Biology from Princeton University (1955) and served four years as a Flight Physiologist in the US Navy. An instructorship at Columbia University was followed by an appointment to the faculty of Hunter College, where he was elected chairman of the Department of Biology in 1965 and remained in that position until President Donna Shalala selected him as the Dean of Sciences and Mathematics. In 2001, Hunter College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of his achievement in the acquisition, expansion and development of minority science programs sponsored by the NIH and the recruitment of minority scientists in support of those programs, as well as national recognition for the establishment of the college’s prestigious Center for the Study of Gene Structure and Function (currently The Center for Translational and Basic Research for Addressing Health Disparities and Improving Health Outcomes).

While pursuing his career in academia, Richard’s free time was consumed by his love for the stage. As early as 1956, Richard began classes at HB Studio in New York City, where he developed a close personal relationship with HB’s founders, Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen – initially as student, and eventually as a teaching colleague. In 1987, having already achieved a career’s worth of professional success in science and administration at Hunter, Richard chose early retirement from his deanship to pursue acting full time, while continuing his affiliation with HB. Over the several decades that followed, Richard appeared in films, television and many theater productions (member: Actors’ Equity and Screen Actors Guild). Richard’s most notable films include Rounders, Nobody’s Fool, The Human Stain, Alice, and Small Time Crooks. His theatrical body of work includes 50 Years of Caddying and Trying at the Gloucester Stage Company, Eye of God with Theatre East, and Harvest along with the Off-Broadway productions of The Crucible, Inherit the Wind, Proof, and You Can’t Take It With You. Regional work includes the Boston Theatre award-winning production of Death of a Salesman, King Lear with Harvard, Orphans with Julliard, and Made in Heaven at the American Jewish Theatre. Richard was honored with Laurette Taylor Award by Theatre East in 2017.

While pursuing his acting career, Richard continued to focus his time on students, becoming keenly aware of the needs and challenges facing theater artists. In 1990, following the passing of Herbert Berghof, Uta Hagen appointed Richard Vice President of the Board of Directors of the HB Playwrights Foundation, a not-for-profit artistic organization created by Herbert Berghof in 1965. Richard assisted Ms. Hagen in her efforts to establish the HB Studio as a not-for-profit organization, an effort that was accomplished prior to her death in 2004. Richard then served as President of the Board until 2013, and as an active President Emeritus until his death. Never losing his quest for knowledge, Richard spent his final months in class pursuing a course in writing at the 92nd Street Y.

Able to entertain an entire room, Richard built strong individual relationships and positively impacted countless lives. He is predeceased by his parents William & Anna (nee: Kane), his long-term partner Grace Konrad, and his siblings William (wife Agnes) & Virginia. He is survived by his brothers Robert (wife Leila deceased), and John (wife Elizabeth deceased), nephews Bill, Jim, Tom, Bob, John (wife Lisa), niece Cathy D’Urso (husband Anthony), great-nieces Tara & Katie Colleen, great-nephew Aidan, and many friends who cherished him.