Actor and voice of Evergreen State Fair is remembered

When Doug Moening was 4, he was out playing in his yard in Seattle. The milkman came by with a delivery. Seeing an opportunity, the little boy told the milkman he was lost.

“The milkman took him to the Wallingford police station,” said Sandra Brigham, Moening’s sister. There, she said, he entertained officers with stories and was treated to candy before being reunited with his frantic family.

“It was his first paid gig,” Brigham said. “He was a bright, shining star.”

An actor in regional and community theater, the official voice of the Evergreen State Fair, expert cook, the fair’s pie judge and a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild, he was first a husband and father.

Douglas Moening, of Clearview, died Feb. 12 after suffering a heart attack. He was 54.

“He was so gregarious and very giving,” said Stephanie “Stevie” Hagarty-Moening, who met her husband-to-be in 1998 on the stage of the Historic Everett Theatre.

At that first meeting, he was stage manager of a production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She had an acting role, an irony for a woman who’d had a 12-year stage-managing career with Seattle Repertory Theatre and Seattle Opera.

“He wore his emotions right on his sleeve,” she said. “Nothing was hidden, from friends or me. It was right out there, laugh or cry.”

The couple were married Dec. 29, 1999, at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C.

Doug Moening also is survived by his children, Belinda and Patrick Moening; sister Sandra Brigham; brothers Richard Moening; Lon Moening; and John Moran.

He was preceded in death by parents Doris Moran and Richard Moening; and grandparents Olive and W.C. Cairns and Ralph Talbert.

A Seattle native, Doug Moening loved the country life at the home he shared with Stevie on 3 acres in Clearview. They kept a horse, donkeys, cats, goats and chickens.

“We’re going to feel a huge void this year at the fair,” said Elizabeth Grant, the Evergreen State Fair’s marketing director. “He was a neat guy.”

Stevie Moening had been involved at the fair since the 1970s. “When they met, it came as a package: Love me, love my fair,” Grant said.

Doug Moening jumped in with both feet, judging pie and salsa contests, winning hog-calling contests and eventually being hired as announcer. “He took that job and brought it to life,” Grant said. “The PA office is upstairs above the speedway, but he’d get out of that chair and walk around. No matter how small or how big the task, he was there.”

Grant still laughs at one fair memory. Every day at 10 a.m., the national anthem is played over loud speakers. “It’s just a tradition. Sometimes people sing live, or we’d find the Whitney Houston version.”

The year of the 35th anniversary of Woodstock, Moening was inspired to play the Jimi Hendrix version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Grant’s cell phone started ringing immediately. “It was Senior Citizen Day at the fair,” she said, adding that Moening had joked about seniors being the only ones to remember Woodstock.

On Monday night, Moening’s loved ones and friends from many area theaters, the fair, his years at Seattle’s Lincoln High School and others gathered at the New Everett Theatre, formerly the Historic Everett Theatre, to pay tribute to the man Grant said “always seemed to have fun.”

The eclectic program was a nod to Moening’s many loves and interests. It included a monologue from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a scene from “The Odd Couple,” soloists singing “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “As time Goes By,” and “Crying,” and the shared memories of many whose lives Moening touched.

Belinda Moening, Doug’s daughter, said that when she studied art in college she appreciated that her father never questioned her choice.

Son Patrick Moening spent many evenings playing chess and talking with his dad. He remembered, years ago, thinking that with all his father’s community theater roles, “Dad is so weird. But I admired him for it.”

Over the years, Moening worked with A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, The Driftwood Players and The Edge of the World Theatre in Edmonds, the Last Leaf Players, Saratoga Trunk and the Evergreen Players in Monroe, and the Historic Everett Theatre.

In a production of “Moon Over Buffalo,” he was sword-fighting on stage with actress Melanie Calderwood, whose sword wounded his abdomen. Blood be darned, he went right on with the scene.

His love of theater went back to his youth.

“He was born to be in the theater,” said Rob Sproul, a friend from high school. “When he came in a room, he lit it up.”

Reporter Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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