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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- This city is widely considered to have one of the top community theatres in the country; the man many credit for creating that excellence has died. Paul Dreher was 80 and recently was ill.

Dreher managed the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre for 39 years before retiring in 1999. He never fully retired of course, and was involved in directing the Circle Theatre's current production of 'Wait Until Dark.'

His expertise was lighting, direction and production-- passions he shared with the thousands that have worked at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, said Bruce Tinker. Tinker, the theatre's artistic and managing director, said Dreher touched so many lives, the as-yet unplanned celebration of his life "will need to be done with the right plan in the right way."

The auditorium at the Meijer Majestic Theatre that houses the Civic Theatre was named after Dreher.

"The wonderful thing about Paul was everthing led with great theatre: The show was the thing everytime, the play's the thing, great theatre was the thing and that was really his passion and he just embedded that in the organization-- what we strive to achieve every day," Tinker told WZZM 13.