Tributes pour in after local actress Mindy Stover loses battle with brain cancer
Friends and colleagues of Mindy Stover flooded social media channels and public websites this weekend as they shared their feelings of love and loss upon learning that the longtime local actress known for diverse musical roles that ranged from her iconic Dorothy in the Music Circus production of "The Wizard of Oz," to Minnie Fay in the Sierra Repertory Company staging of "Hello, Dolly!," had lost her almost two-year battle with brain cancer May 20. She was 40.
"Never was one so loved," posted veteran actor-director-designer Martha Kight on Stover’s Facebook site Saturday. "We were deeply lucky to have her in our lives."
A day earlier (May 25), Stover’s family had posted an obituary in the site’s notes section:
Mindy Alice Stover was born on Aug. 12, the day of the Perseid Meteor Shower. With the flair that was characteristic of her personality and life, she made her final exit with a little smile on her face on the day of the most recent solar eclipse, May 20, 2012. At age 40, Mindy passed away at the home of her parents, in Sacramento, Calif., after a nearly two-year battle with brain cancer. She is now truly “over the rainbow.”
Mindy, known affectionately by many of her friends as "Minky," was born in Modesto, Calif., to parents Richard and Jan Stover. She grew up in Sacramento with her parents, three siblings, and a household full of family cats and dogs. Mindy attended Sacramento High School, Sacramento City College, and as she liked to say, the “school of hard knocks.”
At Sac High, she was heavily involved with the vocal performing group Star Makers, as well as the Sacramento High School Marching Band, for which she played clarinet and was Drum Major during her senior year.
From the time she was young, Mindy’s dream was a career in theater, and through her talent, hard work and tenacity, she was able to live that dream – earning her living as “an official, card-carrying professional actor in theater.”
She performed locally (appearing regularly on the Music Circus and B Street Theatre stages in Sacramento, the Davis Musical Theatre Company, the Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara, and Sierra Repertory Theatre in Sonora), and in many other cities across the country and around the world.
This included New York, Los Angeles and three years of touring Central Europe (Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden) in the role of “Columbia” in the West End stage production of "The Rocky Horror Show."
Her achievements included, as she said in her own words: “a sturdy set of extremely worn luggage; a heavily stamped passport; an amazing résumé; a few lifetimes worth of photos, memories and adventures; a storage unit full of apartment stuff still waiting to be used; and the thrill and pride of knowing that I am actually doing what I always wanted/dreamed of doing.” She was quick to boast that she enjoyed “continually living the life that Peter Pan would be proud of – literally getting paid to play for my career, having grand adventures in doing so, and essentially never growing up.”
Mindy is survived by her parents; siblings Carol Stover, Guy Stover and Bonni Stover; her greatly adored niece, Halli Belle; and an enormous and beloved “family of friends” around the globe.
A Celebration of Life service is planned for late June or early July – the exact date and time is to be determined and will be announced soon.
In lieu of flowers or donations, the family requests memorials celebrating Mindy’s life in the form of written stories and photos. Kindly submit memorials to the online at www.remember.com/people/mindy-alice-stover. The family plans to share these memories at the upcoming Celebration of Life service.
The Stover Family wishes to express heartfelt thanks to all of the family; friends; and to the healthcare professionals at Mercy Hospice, including Mika, Justin, Susan, Angelic, Dr. Quadro, Stefanie, Lanny, and the many others, who have provided love and support to Mindy and her family over the past two years. Words cannot express how much your thoughts, words and visits were valued by both Mindy and the entire Stover Family.
Memories of Mindy
Immediately following the Stovers’ announcement via Mindy’s Facebook page, loving anecdotes and rememberances from dozens of her friends around the world, who had been hoping for a miracle since she was diagnosed with a rapidly growing and inoperable brain tumor in July 2010, started appearing.
Many came from those theater professionals with whom she had collaborated and became friends with, including longtime Music Circus Producing Director Leland Ball ("See you again, my precious. Somewhere over the rainbow."), and fellow B Street Theatre actor Dave Pierini, who posted the succinct comment "Damn."
The support shown by those who knew Mindy was consistently positive, and included inspiring get-well videos and a website dedicated to fighting her specific form of cancer (glioblastoma) through the sale of T-shirts, mugs, keychains, mousepads, caps and more.
The following are among the posts made between Friday evening and early Sunday morning (May 27), many of which were accompanied by a photo or video featuring their friend in happier times, or a symbolic pair of ruby "slippers":
"My heart is breaking. I know you are in a better place … and we are forever better having shared some time here with you. Every time I see a rainbow I will smile and think of you."
"What an amazing spirit and woman Mindy is and always will be. I feel so fortunate to have shared a time and space with her in high school. I idolized her talent then and loved to watch her perform. She is a true gift to all who knew her. Love always."
"I am so saddened to learn of Mindy’s passing. I had such hope for her recovery, somehow. I shall always remember her tight hugs when we were in ‘Annie’ together … such a brilliant and extremely talented young woman. I was fortunate to have worked with her and will cherish her memory forever. Love you, Mindy."
"Saw ‘Wicked’ last night and every reference of Dorothy made, the picture that came to mind was you, sweet Mindy … and then I read this news tonight. You are and will always be the ‘Dorothy’ in our hearts and memories! Hope your flight over the rainbow was peaceful and as wonderful as you. Sending prayers of comfort for your family and for so many whose lives you touched who will miss you so."
"Mindy, the first time I ever stood on a theater stage was with you. And every time I stand on stage now, you are with with because of that. You were truly a brilliant star … now you are soaring in the heavens just as you should be. You will be missed. Love to your family."
"I am crushed."
"Mindy you were such a little pistol with so much life. I just saw ‘End of the Rainbow’ last night, and in the middle of the show she actually did one of your infamous karate kicks and all I could think of was you. She must’ve been channeling you. I will always remember your fun, smiling face. My prayers go to your family."
"Mindy, you and I go back to the Max’s Opera Cafe days. We were just young ones then and oh, the fun we had! Your talent was so great then and became stronger and stronger through the years. I will miss your beautiful smile and giving spirit. Many times your heart of gold and loving ways made my day even brighter. Although I am deeply saddened by your transition, I choose to celebrate your life because I know this is what you would want. Happiness was your greatest gift to us all and it will always be a big part of the amazing memory of you. Rest in peace forever dear friend."
"I just read her obituary, very beautiful! I kid you not, my family and I were at Disneyland last weekend celebrating my son’s 4th birthday. I had never been on the ride The Flight of Peter Pan, but on Sunday, May 20, at the time of the eclipse, we got on the ride, not knowing that Mindy had crossed over the rainbow. The memory of that first ride will always be united with Mindy."
"Mindy Stover (1971-2012) was a warm, funny, wonderful, beautiful human being, as well as an extremely gifted and sparkling presence on stage. It was such a privilege to have gotten to know her, and to share a stage with her. Fare ye well, Little Becky Two Shoes! (This video was made in August 2010, and is a great sampling of how many lives Mindy touched.)
"I am beyond devastated to hear of the passing of my dear friend Mindy Stover. Betty Jean, you will live inside my heart forever and I will never, ever forget the impact you had on me on and off stage. I am so happy I was able to reach you a few days before you went, and just two weeks ago I sang ‘Over The Rainbow’ at a concert in your honor. I miss you and pray for the promise of a joyful reunion one day. XOXO."
"I love you Mindy Stover. I was so blessed to share that Sonora winter with you – still to this day some of the best memories of my life. You taught me SOOOO much more than just how to knit a scarf and I am so grateful! My heart hurts tonight. Rest in peace. XOXOX."
"Heaven just became a little brighter."
"Anyone who knew Mindy was truly blessed. A rare and beautiful human being in every way. She will be missed."
"I can’t believe it. Another amazing, kind-hearted, giving, fun-loving soul has passed away. Mindy Stover, you were beautiful inside and out. So many great memories with you doing ‘All Shook Up’ in Sonora! Some of the best times! Rest in peace."
"So heartbroken to lose another friend. Mindy Stover was a pistol, with an enormous heart and voice to match. She was ferocious, talented, clever, sentimental, wickedly funny, and I’m lucky to have known her. She’s no longer imprisoned by the earthly body that betrayed her. I like to think she’s up there now, singing and dancing and cracking jokes …."
"I am so privileged to have twice shared the stage with you, Mindy. You will always be the oldest living orphan and the best Dorothy I ever worked with. Forever in my heart, Minky! Be at peace. Prayers and love to the Stover family."
"I’m so lucky to have shared Europe, the stage, countless laughs and so many crazy fun adventures with you. I’m sure the tour you are on now can’t be beat."
"Love you my sweet spirit. Who will I Jitterbug with now?"
"One of the most charismatic people I’ve ever known. The world will miss you."
"Mindy you will always be in my heart. When I walk on my street I will always remember our childhood and walking home from school together.You will be dearly missed by all of us who had the opportunity and privilege of knowing you."
"Bradley Dean posted this on his wall and it is such a wonderful video that captures the sparkle and beauty that is Mindy. You are so loved Mindy."
"Woke up this morning to the news that the amazing Mindy Stover has left this world for the next. I feel honored to have known and loved her during her time here, and although we weren’t able to follow through on our plan to audition for ‘The Amazing Race,’ I know we would have given the world a show. Godspeed you amazing girl."
"Thanks, Mindy, for teaching me if you can’t have fun, you’re doing it wrong. You are a joy and a treasure forever."
"My beautiful friend, my heart aches. Thank you for keeping me on my toes. Making me laugh. Keeping me dreaming. For quoting ‘Peter Pan’ to the point of exhaustion. For sharing good food, either the healthy stuff or the sinfully delightful. Thank you for listening to everything I told you, and for caring so deeply about my family and friends, even those you never got to meet in person. Thank you."
"A ridiculously talented, sweet, hilarious, joyful ray of sunshine has passed and I can only hope that she is basking in rainbows. Mindy Stover, it was an honor, a pleasure, and true joy to be your pal."
"I had the distinct pleasure of working with the luminous Ms. Mindy just once in ‘A Christmas Carol’ for Sacramento Theatre Company. Thank you, Mindy, for being the finest role model for living with joy for which I could have hoped. I, like so many, will miss you terribly. Save me a good seat.’
I got this at Bluebird Tattoo the day after I closed ‘Rocky Horror’ last year, so you would always be there on my shoulder."
"I will never forget the precious time I had with Mindy on stage when we did ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ I played Cowardly Lion and she played Dorothy. Mindy, you will always be my precious Dorothy. Thank you, Mindy. You will be missed."
"Few people I have ever met, have I ever had the honor of knowing from such a young age and into adulthood. From ‘The Sound of Music’ to that bright red hair as Columbia in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ to ‘The Last Night of Ballyhoo’. (I loved that last show. I bought the art deco coffee sever from the dining room and kept the ‘Gone with the Wind’ still I made for ya. Prop guys keep memories in this way I guess.) You were more than talent. You were a bright, smiling face that always made me feel like I should stop and remember every day. Break a leg, Mindy."
"Mindy, I remember being in the wings waiting to tap dance out into the land of Oz with you … giggling and joking … until the split-second we had to ‘go’ … and we would magically snap into character. You were/are a true professional and friend! I’m hoping when I see you next we can dust off those tap shoes and do it for an eternity!! (I’m hoping you’ll remember the choreography!!) Until that day, I love you and miss you!"
"I love you, Mindy Stover. Rest sweetly, you will be so missed."
"Mindy truly was one of the sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She will always be my Dorothy!"
"I danced with you at ‘Ballyhoo’ … A hightlight in my little life. Thank you, Mindy, for sharing your LIGHT with Santa Barbara."
"Rest in peace sweet Mindy! I will always see you in every rainbow."
"Things I will always be grateful for: teaching me the ropes at The Tent, sharing your Bikram practice with me, all our chats about boys named Chris, Cranberry Cosmos on New Year’s (also grateful that Daddy Chet walked you home that night … errr, morning), your sage advice on anything related to hair color, our impromptu slumber party at the famous SRT tray-tray in Sonora … but, above all, for being the big sister I never had. I have always, and will always, look to you as an example of a life well-lived … sass, smarts, and smiles. Forever Dorothy, forever Liesl, forever our Mink."
"There are no words to truly express my feelings of loss right now even though I’ve had a couple of days to process. We were thrown together late summer of ’85 at band camp; sheer havoc after that. We understood each other. We double-dated proms together. She sat next to me in silence on the bus after the Woodland Christmas Parade the very day after my father passed. She along with Miranda and Lisa were the first on my doorstep to console me. We lost touch but reconnected after about 20 years, it was like nothing was lost. When she was diagnosed she was the one that wiped MY tears. I will always love you. Thank you for being a part of my life!!"
"So sad to hear the news of your passing. I will always remember the first time I met you. Doing ‘Music Man’ under the tent summer 1983. I looked up to you, I wanted to be you. We shared the stage together more times than I can count, but what I will always remember most was your infectious smile. No matter how bad the day, no matter how stressful the situation your smile could change everything. That is what I will remember most, and as I fight back tears knowing you are no longer with us, your smile is forever imprinted in my memory. Something I will never forget. Love you!"
"I am so grateful to have had you in my life, you amazing firecracker of a woman. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the absolute gift of your life and friendship. You are my constant inspiration to work hard and NEVER give up, and your bravery and strength changed my life. I am buying a bag of Riesens tomorrow to give to my cast in your honor. … Love you, BJ. All my love, Cindy Lou."