The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) alumnus community with the death from complications of the virus of RFH Class of ’72 graduate and community theater actor Hal Holst on April 2.
Classmates and theater friends rallied to pay respects on social media as a GoFundMe funeral/memorial fundraiser was set up. An announcement on the RFH Class of ’72 Facebook page by longtime friend and RFHer David Conover broke the news to classmates with sorrow, adding that Holst “spent two weeks in Riverview Hospital” due to “complications from the COVID-19 virus … and died April 2 at 9 a.m.”
“Sometimes he was the manager of a paint department, or a puppeteer at First Avenue Playhouse, where in ’08, he co-directed us in The Best Man,” friend Rudy Palma said in a Facebook post. “He may have shown you to your seats at The Basie. He never had a bad word to say about anyone, no matter how life treated him. Tonight I learned that he has passed due to the virus. Damn. He was one of the good guys.”
Many other such tributes flooded social media.
Hal, whose full name was Harold Peter Holst, was eulogized by his sister, Lisa Cooper, on the GoFundMe page she created in his honor to help cover costs for a memorial and to lay her brother to rest.
She wrote that the longtime Rumsonite, RFH grad and area actor, director, usher, stage crew guy and all-around theater lover lived in Rumson for most of his life. He lived in New Haven, CT for his college years, “after which time he moved back to Rumson where he lived for many years before moving to Red Bank in 2015, where he lived until his death.”
After RFH, Hal went on to study at Brookdale Community College , graduating in 1974. He then went on to study at Southern Connecticut State College, graduating in 1977.
Hal is survived by: his sister, Lisa Cooper and brother-in-law John, Arizona; several cousins; aunts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia; and many friends and members of the church “who loved and cared about him.
“He will be missed by many who are a part of various community theatres in the area,” she concluded. Messages of condolence and eulogy flooded social media from various corners of the theater community, from those who worked closely with Hal over the years to those who had brief encounters with him that evoked everlasting good memories.
RIP, Hal. You are remembered.