By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
The Palatine theater community has taken another hit, with the passing of Elroy "Sandy" Sandquist, founder and driving force behind the Fremont Street Theater Company.
His passing comes less than four years after another theater icon in the community, Susannah Kist, passed away from cancer, eight years after she founded the Wood Street Theater Company.
Sandquist died on Saturday after a brief illness. He was 59.
"We're still reeling from our loss," said Madeline Franklin of Long Grove, who directed Fremont Street's first musical last year and is directing its second show, "The Drowsy Chaperone" this summer. It opens Aug. 9 at Cutting Hall in Palatine.
Sandquist practiced law in Palatine with the firm of Molohon, Sandquist and James, which specializes in real estate, probate planning and business law. He was an active supporter of the Palatine Chamber of Commerce.
"He was a solid attorney with a great amount of integrity," said Patrick Molohon, founding partner. "He was very active in the community and active in the court community. And of course he was one of the main cogs in our firm."
Sandquist rekindled his love of musical theater more than a decade ago, after his daughters began performing in shows with Kist in Wood Street Theater.
He eventually followed them onto the stage in smaller, supporting roles before stepping up to the leads -- Capt. Von Trapp in the "Sound of Music," and Professor Harold Hill in "The Music Man."
Wood Street Theater folded after Kist's passing and within two years, Sandquist mounted a similar company, dedicated to enriching the community by providing live theater.
"We wanted to put out an exceptional product," says Sandquist's wife, Colleen. "We wanted to do it as a family, that we could do together -- and be something great for the community."
Sandquist served as producer, bringing in resources and funding from the surrounding community, while recruiting production specialists -- music and vocal directors, costumers, and set and lighting designers that he had worked with at other companies -- and top-notch performers to create a memorable show each summer.
"He gave us all the tools to put on a great production," Franklin added.
Sandquist and his board of directors selected "Anything Goes" for their premiere show and it drew 1,500 patrons last summer to Cutting Hall. With "The Drowsy Chaperone," they plan on the same type of big, Broadway-style production this summer.
"We're going to forge ahead and go on with the show," Colleen Sandquist told the cast Monday night. "This company will continue. That's what he wanted and that's what we'll do."
In 2008, Sandquist released a contemporary Christian CD called "Redemption," for which he wrote four of the 10 songs.
Besides his wife, Sandquist is survived by his daughters Kylen and Kara.
Visitation will take place from 3-8 p.m. Thursday and from 9-10 a.m. Friday, before a 10:30 a.m. funeral Mass Friday at Holy Family Catholic Community, 2515 W. Palatine Road in Inverness.