Gabriel (Terry) L. Stoner (1944-2014)

December 3, 2014


Gabriel (Terry) L. Stoner passed away peacefully on Wednesday,

November 5, 2014 in Overland Park, Kansas after an extended

illness. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1944, the son of

Mary Sharr Birkenholz and Terry S. Stoner. Gabe went to

elementary school in Parnell, Missouri; middle school at the Wilcox

Country School; high school in Ravenwood, Missouri; and college

at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri.


At an early age, it was apparent Gabe was a very talented artist.

He majored in art at Northwest Missouri State University, where he

fell in love with modern dance. In 1966, Gabe moved to

Minneapolis, Minnesota to pursue dance professionally. He began

his studies with Nancy McKnight Hauser, where he met his wife

and dance partner of 11 years, Marie Winckler. Gabe quickly

became a lead dancer in the Nancy Hauser Dance Company.

While there, he met German dancer Margret Dietz, who became

his mentor. In 1968, Gabe was one of 40 dancers admitted from

700 applicants to the New York University School of Performing

Arts Dance Program, but he chose to stay in Minneapolis to study

with Margret Dietz. In 1968, by invitation, Gabe and Marie created

the first dance program at the College of St. Benedict’s renowned

Benedicta Arts Center (BAC) in St. Joseph, Minnesota. In 1970,

Margret Dietz, Gabe and Marie founded the dance company

Choreogram with Linda Osborne and Judith Mirus. Following

Margret’s death in 1972, Gabe and Marie formed the BAC’s first

resident dance company, Spira, A Company of Dancers, with

Paula Rahders. They moved the company to Portland, Oregon in

1975 where they developed a studio and black box theater in the

Pythian Building in downtown Portland. Spira was hailed by

reviewers and awarded operating grants from the City of Portland.

Gabe contributed many repertory works to Choreogram and Spira,

including Nocturna, Expulsion From the Garden of Eden (a comedy

created together with Marie), Eulenspiegel, From an Unseen
, The Planets (with Marie and Paula), Hodie, A Christmas
(with Marie), and On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! In 1977,

Spira won positions on the National Endowment for the Arts

National Dance Touring Program and Young Audiences Arts for

Learning visiting artists program. That year, Gabe created his first

large, suspended set pieces in his finest and perhaps signature

dance work, Time Cycle, which won him an Individual Artist

Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He used this

fellowship to create a giant mobile as a suspended, rotating set

piece for his group dance Ceremonial Landscape.


Gabe was the quintessential artist throughout his life; he expressed

his creativity in paint, clay, dance, figure skating, wearable art,

music and mobiles. Gabe was always creating, admiring and

appreciating artistic beauty whether human made or created by

Mother Nature. He won the Kansas Governor’s Artist Award in

1989. He had a green thumb and loved growing exotic plants. The

artwork he created over his lifetime is enjoyed in thousands of

homes and businesses over the four corners of the world. Gabe

made friends easily and developed numerous lifelong friends

through his pursuit of art.


Gabe is preceded by his loving mother, Mary Birkenholz; his step-

father, Julius Birkenholz; his brother, Larry Stoner; and lifelong

friends, Billie Nickell and Ed Sherlock. Gabe is survived by his

sister Judy Stoner Bailey (husband Gary) of Moberly, Missouri; his

brother Tom Birkenholz (husband Barry) of Princeton, New Jersey;

two nephews, Jason and Joshua Bailey; his great nephew Harley

Bailey; his great niece Katherine Bailey; an extended family of

cousins; and his former partner, Michael Hatton.


A memorial service will be held next summer at Eisenhower State

Park on Lake Melvern in Osage County, Kansas, Gabe’s home for

30 years. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made in the

name of Gabriel L. Stoner to Positive Connections, 1001 SW

Garfield Avenue, Suite 4, Topeka, Kansas 66604 or Arts Connect,

515 South Kansas Avenue, Suite A, Topeka Kansas 66603.



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