Robert Martin Pomory, 58, rose from usher to general manager of Lyric Theatre

June 23, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun Staff

Robert Martin Pomory, the hard-working general manager of the Lyric Theatre, died Friday of bacterial meningitis at North Arundel General Hospital. He was 58 and lived in Linthicum.

In his 20s, he showed up at the Mount Royal Avenue music hall to apply for a job as an usher. He got the job and remained there four decades, becoming house manager in 1970. He made his last appearance there on a Saturday evening this month to confer with the stagehands setting up for a Paul Anka concert to benefit the Save-A-Heart Foundation.

"Bob was practically born at the Lyric," said University of Baltimore president H. Mebane Turner. "He ran a tight ship, and even in the worst of times, he kept it in the black. The Lyric today would not be where it is without him."

Mr. Pomory ran the house for the Baltimore Opera Company, Broadway touring musicals and personal appearances of singers and celebrities. Until 1982, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed at the Lyric, as did the Philadelphia Orchestra.

So attached was he to the building that his cars' license plates read "Lyric I" and "Lyric II."

"He was truly devoted to the institution of the Lyric," said Lowell R. Bowen, president of the nonprofit Lyric Foundation.

Mr. Pomory's office walls were lined with the framed photographs of stars who played the Lyric over the years. His home was also filled with show placards and theatrical memorabilia.

In a 1985 Sun interview, Mr. Pomory said his most exciting Lyric event was a gala staged for former Vice President Spiro Agnew -- some months before the former Maryland governor's disgrace and resignation from public office.

John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope were all at the Lyric that night.

One of his most onerous duties at the Lyric involved the annual Bachelors Cotillon, when the annual crop of Baltimore debutantes was presented to society. Mr. Pomory and a work crew had to unbolt all the orchestra seats -- install a flat floor for dancing -- then disassemble it and rebolt the seats. The annual practice continued until the 1980s, when the house was renovated to accommodate Broadway shows.

"The Lyric was immaculate because Bob was immaculate -- everything was in its place," said Fred Botti, a friend and a Lyric patron.

In 1989, when members of a Russian opera and ballet company were stranded in Baltimore, he dipped into his own pocket and helped the group find bookings.

Born in Locust Point -- where his grandfather, a Hungarian immigrant, had been a baker -- he moved to Brooklyn Park as a child and graduated from St. Rose of Lima School and Brooklyn Park High School.

He was a member of the League of Historic American Theaters, the International Association of Auditorium Managers, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the White Rock Yacht Club and the Rotary Club.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. today at Singleton Funeral Home, 1 Second Ave., Glen Burnie.

He is survived by his stepmother, Irene Pomory of Baltimore; his brothers, Donald J. Benson Sr. of Perry Hall, John C. Pomory of York, Pa., Albert W. Benson of Las Vegas, Mark L. Pomory of Virginia Beach, Va., and Michael J. Pomory of Baltimore; and his sister, Janet P. Scott of Baltimore.

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