Jared Clayton Neff, 30, a D.C. resident since 2005 who worked in production-related positions at local theaters, including D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, died March 7 at George Washington University Hospital of pneumonia, according to a spokesperson for the company.
Friends and associates said Neff, a native of Missouri, had a life-long interest in theater and the performing arts and became involved in theater-related activities while a high school student in Nixa, Mo., near Springfield.
In his most recent role as bookings manager for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Neff managed events at the highly acclaimed Harman Center for the Arts, the downtown Washington theater facility affiliated with the Shakespeare company.
“While we will certainly remember everything he has accomplished in managing events both large and small at the Harman Center for the Arts, I will continue to think of all that remained for him to achieve and offer — the true tragedy of a loss at such a young age,” said Chris Jennings, managing director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
“He will be missed by everyone here at the Shakespeare Theatre Company as well as the entire community he served so well at the Harman,” Jennings said.
An obituary in the Christian County Headliner News, his hometown newspaper in Missouri, said Neff was born Aug. 7, 1981 in St. Joseph, Mo., and graduated from Nixa High School in 2000. He received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Webster University in St. Louis in 2004.
The newspaper said he was awarded certification from the Commercial Theater Institute of New York City and was a guest artist at the State Thespians Conference, a yearly event in Missouri.
He worked in theaters in Missouri and Ohio as assistant production supervisor and stage manager before moving to the D.C. area in 2005, when he began work as production manager at the Olney Theater in Olney, Md. and later as production administrator for D.C.’s Arena Stage.
Those who knew him, including many who posted messages of condolence on his Facebook page, said he had many friends in D.C.’s gay community and was a regular patron of the city’s gay clubs.
“I will remember Jared Neff as one of the most audacious and authentic people I have ever met,” said his friend Nathan Nickens. “I will remember his beautiful smile and outrageous sense of humor. The immeasurable impact of Jared’s life will be felt by the hundreds of aspiring theatre students he mentored, the audiences who experienced his work, and the thousands of friends who loved him.”
Neff is survived by his parents, Richard and Lynn of Battlefield, Mo.; his brother, Brandon of Highlands Ranch, Colo; his grandmother, Erma Hunt of Plattsburg, Mo., and many other family members and friends, the Christian County Headliner News said.
A memorial service was scheduled for March 17 at First Baptist Church in Nixa, Mo.