The Lake Oconee Area is mourning the loss of Oconee Performing Arts Society Executive Director Roman Terleckyj following his unexpected passing earlier in the week.

Terleckyj passed away early Monday morning.

Lydia Huggins Ivanditti, director of The Plaza Arts Center in Eatonton spoke of Terleckyj’s death in a press release for the Center, which is affiliated with OPAS.

“Roman and I were the same age, and we both re-located to the lake country at about the same time,” Ivanditti said via press release. “We both shared a passion for the arts and a love for live performances and he was gracious and generous in helping me get The Plaza up and running.”

OPAS started operation in 2007 and since that time has been the cultural arts hub of the Lake Oconee community. That community is now shocked and saddened by the death of a champion of the arts.

“His passing is a monumental loss to the whole area, to our whole community,” Samantha Duthler, company manager said.

It is unclear how Terleckyj’s death will affect events remaining on the OPAS calendar.

Duthler, who served as assistant to Terleckyj said that the director was an inspiration and a special person.

“Roman was the heart and soul of OPAS,” Duthler said. “He was just one of those magical people who inspired people around him to be the best they could be whether performers or behind the scenes people. “

His direction of OPAS resulted in a multitude of events as well as venues during his time at the helm.

Currently, OPAS holds events at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation, Sandy Creek Barn in Greensboro, The Plaza Arts Center in Eatonton, Harbor Club’s Polo Arena as well as some schools in the area. Recently, OPAS formed a partnership with various Greensboro-based organizations to promote the renovation of Greensboro Hall, a performance space that may one day serve as yet another venue for performing arts in the Lake Oconee area.

Ivanditti said that Terleckyj was instrumental in the launch of Eatonton’s Plaza Arts Center and encouraged bringing The Five Browns to the stage of that venue to kick off the performing arts center there.

Under Terleckyj’s leadership, OPAS events have ranged from Broadway shows such as “The King and I”, to single performer acts including Lucy Arnaz. Family festivals and events like the Village Regatta and the Village Holiday Fair have kept the level of cultural arts exposure high, and an affirmation to consumers of all ages.

Duthler and Ivanditti both expressed that Terleckyj’s presence and unmistakable brand will be missed.

“Roman had a bigger-than-life impact on the entire lake community and region, and his death is a loss to us all,” she said. “I feel so fortunate to have his light shine upon me, even for a brief time. He left an indelible mark.”

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