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Tribute to Sandy Webster

Sandy Webster with his wife Ruth. Photo provided by the Websters’ son, Craig.

The AFC remembers former AFC vice-president Sandy Webster, an actor who passed away last year at the age of 94.

Webster was born on January 30, 1923 in Fort William, Ont.

He was a flying officer during World War II and after the war was given the opportunity to get a free university education because of his service. He chose Queen’s University at the suggestion of his brother, who was a dean there.

While studying history, political science and English with the goal of becoming a journalist, Sandy joined the university’s Drama Guild where a professor recommended he try out acting full time.

And thus began a 50-year, award-winning career in radio, television, film and theatre.

“He loved acting,” his son Craig Webster says. “He was just really grateful that he got to do it.”

Craig remembers finding letters that Sandy wrote to his father when he was starting out as an actor.

“He was so proud,” Craig says. “He was doing a show in Montreal and was writing to his dad saying ‘we did a pretty good gate,’ which I think meant the box office, and saying the show was held over. He just seemed really proud that he was in something that was a hit.”

Sandy’s love of acting was also evident to those who worked with him.

He was passionate about “honesty in acting,” says former Shaw Festival artistic director Christopher Newton, who worked with Sandy several times at Shaw.

“He very much appreciated honest work around him and was very hurt by a bad representation of his art, the art that he had chosen to be a part of.”

Fiona Reid worked with Sandy at the Shaw Festival early in her career and remembers him as “an amazing human being who loved and respected everyone he worked with.”

“Now that I have been around for a while, I see how having someone like Sandy in one’s midst elevates everything to a level that is more joyous, more interesting and more generous.”

Newton says that Sandy “was one of the most valued members of the acting ensemble that I ever worked with.”

“He was a joy to act with personally and he was a joy to direct and one looked forward to what he would invent in the rehearsal hall. How he would present something. It was honest, it was true and it was very real and effective on stage,” Newton says. “He knew how to do something which you would notice without him really bringing attention to himself. But if you understood the nuances of what he was doing, it was wonderful. It’s like listening to a great pianist.”

Craig says that while his dad deeply loved acting, he always factored in his family when making decisions about work.

“He would never take a job where he couldn’t see his family at least once every two weeks,” Craig says.

“One wonderful thing is that in the summer, he would be doing festivals in many places … and part of our summer vacation would be to go spend time in whatever town dad was in.”

Craig says he has fond memories of spending time at the Shaw Festival, in Halifax, Peggy’s Cove and Lennoxville, Que.

“It was a terrific part of my childhood summers,” he says.

Webster’s “love for his family was evident in all that he did,” Reid says. “For those of us who hadn’t yet had families of our own, he made us see that we could do it and that it was possible to do good work and have a family without sacrificing either camp.”

Beyond his family and his work, Webster was devoted to his artistic community.

He served as president of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, as director of Equity Showcase and as vice-president of The AFC.

Webster supported The AFC throughout his career and with a bequest.

“He cared about his acting community and taking care of them.” Craig says. “He thought of the arts community not as a business, but as a community.”

The AFC is grateful to Sandy Webster for leaving a legacy that will assist entertainment professionals in times of crisis.

To learn about planned giving, please visit our website or call us at 1.877.399.8392.

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