- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gilbert Dunbar Mead, philanthropist and retired research scientist, died May 29 at the Washington Home of complications after a stroke. He was 76.

Mr. Mead and his wife, Jaylee, gave to such groups as the Arena Stage, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Levine School of Music, the Atlas Performing Arts Center and the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint. Their recent commitment to Arena Stage marks the largest individual gift given to a regional theater.

Mr. Mead worked for 25 years as a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. After his retirement in 1987, he earned a law degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 1991. At that time, he was the oldest person admitted to the Maryland state bar.

Mr. Mead was born May 31, 1930, in Madison, Wis., to Dorothy and Stanton Mead. He was raised in Wisconsin Rapids, the headquarters of the family business, Consolidated Papers Inc.

Mr. Mead earned a physics degree from Yale University in 1952. He served on the Consolidated Papers board from 1974 to 2000, when the company was sold. He also taught school and earned a doctorate degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Mead then went to work for NASA, where he became a key participant in the agency’s probe of Jupiter.

At Goddard, Mr. Mead met Jaylee, his second wife, whom he married in November 1968. He then joined the Goddard amateur theater group, where he developed his love of theater.

In the 1980s, Mr. and Mrs. Mead began attending professional theater in the District.

In 1989, they founded the Gilbert and Jaylee Mead Family Foundation, now known as the Mead Family Foundation.

Mr. and Mrs. Mead received several awards including The Washington Post Award for Distinguished Community Service, the Cultural Alliance Patrons of the Arts Award and the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts. They were named 1999 Washingtonians of the Year.

Studio Theatre Artistic Director Joy Zinoman recalled Mr. Mead “on his back in the [theater’s] office in a T-shirt, installing the first computers that the Studio Theatre ever purchased.”

Mr. Mead also gave to organizations in Wisconsin Rapids.

In addition to Mrs. Mead, he is survived by two daughters, Betsy Mead of Rockville and Diana Mead-Siohan of Palm Coast, Fla.; a son, Stanton W. Mead II of Middletown, Md.; five grandchildren; a brother, George W. Mead II of Wisconsin Rapids; a sister, Mary LaMar Price of Madison, Wis.; and his first wife, Marilyn K. Mead. Mr. Mead was preceded in death by another son, Robert, who died in 2002.

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