Acclaimed suburban theater director, teacher dies at 81
John K. Marquette, an acclaimed suburban theater director and longtime teacher in Northwest Suburban High School District 214, is being remembered for living a life full of warmth, wit and humor.
Marquette, 81, of Mount Prospect, died Tuesday.
"Alzheimer's disease ultimately robbed John of his quick wit and ability to walk. Even in his last days, however, his warm smiled touched the hearts of his family and friends, those warm Irish blue eyes smiling from deep within," an obituary reads.
Marquette taught and directed at John Hersey, Buffalo Grove, Prospect and Notre Dame high schools, mentoring dozens of talented young people, some of whom went on to great success in show business.
After retiring from District 214, he continued to teach and direct at Oakton Community College and Harper College. He also served on the IHSA State Committee for Speech and won the District 214 Friend of the Arts Award.
More recently, the District 214 Education Foundation created the John K. Marquette Fine Arts Endowed Scholarship, which awards $2,000 annually to graduating seniors -- one from Hersey and one from Prospect -- who demonstrate significant ability in speech and/or theater and demonstrate high character, leadership and a passion for those fields.
A highlight of his career came in 2010 when Ian Brennan, who starred in Marquette's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" at Prospect, won a Golden Globe as a writer for the TV show "Glee." The same awards show featured another of his former students, actress Jennifer Morrison.
"That's like being an athletic coach and seeing two of your star players make it to the major leagues," Marquette told the New York Post.
Marquette grew up on the North Side of Chicago and was the first of his siblings to graduate from college, earning a bachelor's degree from Loyola University in Chicago and a master's from Northeastern Illinois.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, four children, two stepchildren and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at Lauterburg & Oehler Funeral Home, 2000 E. Northwest Highway, Arlington Heights. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church, 411 N. Wheeling Road, Prospect Heights. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to the John K. Marquette Endowed Fine Arts Scholarship through the District 214 Education Foundation can be made online at https://form.jotform.com/d214Ed/Marquette or you can send checks to the D214 Foundation with "Marquette" in the memo line to 2121 S. Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60005 or the Alzheimer's Association, 8430 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60631.