Lucina Paquet was born on January 16, 1922 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She lived an extraordinary life as a mother, a teacher, a scholar, and an actress. She majored in Theatre Arts at Louisiana State University, graduating in 1942. It was there that she met Glendon Gabbard, with whom she had appeared in plays. They were married on January 29, 1942.
After World War II, they moved to Charleston, Illinois, where Glendon was a professor of Theatre Arts at Eastern Illinois University. After raising two children, Lucina went back to school and received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois in 1973. As a Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, she won teaching awards and the great respect of her colleagues. She also published numerous articles in scholarly journals and two books, The Dream Structure of Pinter’s Plays (1976) and The Stoppard Plays (1982).
She retired from teaching in 1985 and moved to Chicago with her husband. The couple worked regularly as actors in Chicago, appearing in films, plays, television programs, and print ads. As Lucina Paquet, she appeared in Groundhog Day, Prelude to a Kiss, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and several others. She also played the role of Grandma Joad in the Steppenwolf Theater’s production of The Grapes of Wrath, which won a Tony Award while it was playing in New York in 1990. She died peacefully of lung cancer on May 23, 2006.
Earnest Glendon Gabbard, known to friends and loved ones as Gabby, was born in Berea, Kentucky, on November 1, 1919, the son of Ernest Edward Gabbard and Allie May Blanton Gabbard. He received a bachelor’s degree at Berea College, where he majored in music and theatre. In 1941 he enrolled at Louisiana State University to continue his study of drama and theatre. While appearing in the university’s plays, he met Lucina Paquet. She played his mother in their first play together. When they cuddled backstage, the other actors would make incest jokes.
After returning from World War II, where he served as an officer in the Navy, Gabby and Lucy briefly lived in Iowa City, Iowa, where they enrolled in graduate programs. In 1954, Gabby received a Ph.D. in Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa. In 1947, he was hired to teach theatre and direct plays at Eastern Illinois University. Until his retirement in 1984, he directed between three and six plays each year. He was the father of the theatre program at Eastern and widely loved by students. His plays were well-received by audiences, and many of his students went on to successful careers as actors and teachers. In 1982, his production of Sam Shepard’s Seduced won a national competition and was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
After retiring from teaching and moving to Chicago, Gabby appeared in productions at the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, and many other venues in Chicago’s active theatre scene. He also acted in commercials and appeared in many print ads.
Gabby passed away on the afternoon of June 15, 2007, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
Lucy and Gabby were both devoted to exploring spirituality, and they always filled their home with Asian art. They asked that their ashes be scattered together on something that is living. To create a monument where the ashes would lie, the family bought a white granite Buddha, about 3 feet tall and weighing at least 200 pounds. Because of its weight, it has the right look of repose and spiritual strength. Lucy and Gabby would have loved it. It now sits among some trees on the estate of their younger son, Glen.