As appeared on Houston Chronicles on October 29, 2014
Lynette Mason Gregg, a longtime arts leader who founded two Houston area dance institutions, died Friday of lung disease. She was 64.
Gregg left a large family of her own but also touched the lives of three generations of aspiring dance students in the Clear Lake area.
She founded the Royal Academy of Arts in 1972, a few years before establishing the company that would become Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theatre. She produced 39 seasons of performances that included contemporary and classical ballets as well as musicals.
Gregg often invited guest stars from around the world to lead her company's classical ballets, including an annual "Nutcracker" as well as such demanding repertoire as "The Sleeping Beauty," "Swan Lake" and "Giselle." This season, former Boston Ballet stars Lorna Feijóo and Nelson Madrigal joined as ballet mistress and master; the company also has four full-time dancers.
Dawn Lehman Kopra, the chairman of the company's board - whose daughter studied and performed with Gregg for 13 years - said Gregg had been ill a few weeks but her death came as a surprise.
"She was a remarkable woman and leaves an indelible mark on our community. She brought the arts to people who hadn't been exposed to them before," Kopra said.
Christina Renee Caldwell, thanking Gregg for teaching her grace "both on and off the dance floor," was among the dozens of former students who filled Gregg's Facebook page Monday with fond memories of a personality who seemed both larger than life and a consummate professional.
Gregg was president of the Regional Dance America Southwest regional board three consecutive years and also served on that organization's national board. She also was Gulf Coast regional director to the Texas Assembly of Arts Councils and developed a ballet curriculum for San Jacinto College District, where she taught for two years. Gregg was born and raised in Deer Park, whose chamber of commerce named her an outstanding citizen in 1981.
Her survivors include her husband, Dick Gregg Jr.; children Vanessa Handrick Garner and her husband, Grey Garner; Dick Gregg III; Chris Gregg; Heather O'Donnell; Mark O'Donnell and his wife, Cindy O'Donnell; her sister, Kathy Mason Fisher; eight grandchildren; and numerous other relatives.
Gregg's life will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Unity Church of Christianity, 2929 Unity Drive. Remembrances may be sent to the family through Crowder Funeral Home, 111 E. Medical Center Blvd., Webster, TX 77598; 281-280-9000.
Lynette Mason-Gregg, shown in 2005, founded Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theatre and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Clear Lake. She died Friday, at age 64, of lung disease.