Dunster's legacy boosted arts, media in Lima

·2 min read

Oct. 12—LIMA — George Dunster left the Lima area in October 2018 to live with his daughter in Delaware, Ohio, while he recuperated from hip surgery that left him confined to a wheelchair.

On Monday afternoon, Dunster died at the age of 89. He leaves a legacy in both local media and the theatre.

In March of 1963, Dunster began working for The Lima News, a job he would do for 13 years.

He also worked for a couple of years at WIMA-AM radio and then began a career working in television at WLIO-TV, going from reporter to news director until he retired in 1999.

But it was the theatre that he enjoyed the most.

Bart Mills, director of the Council for the Arts of Greater Lima, says Dunster left an impact on him.

"George was the director of the very first musical I ever performed in outside of high school — when I was 16 years old at Encore Theatre. He was terrifying and generous with his time, and I learned more in probably one summer than I did for most of four years of college," Mills said.

Dunster's legacy was significant in the arts community.

"He was an original board member of the Council for the Arts when it was first founded because he was active with Encore Theatre and all the other theater organizations — Play Fair, things like that. He was, for a brief period, director of ArtSpace/Lima, which people sort of forget about that, but he was a theater guy. He was the guy that came to the table to help people with the theater portion of things, but as the next generation rolled through, my generation, he was just a generous mentor," Mills said.

While Dunster wasn't acting or director, he was the leader of the WLIO newsroom.

One of his understudies, Jeff Fitzgerald, current news director at Your Hometown Stations, found Dunster to be a great mentor.

"I was a snot-nosed young kid, and George hired me in late 1984," Fitzgerald said. "The biggest thing he ever did for me really was give me a chance, and he stuck with me. He was tough but fair, and I learned a lot from him.

"One of his biggest legacies is that he hired people that are still here. I've been here 37 years. Holly Koza has been here 35. Phil Thomas has been here 40. He hired people and laid the foundation for this news department for decades to come," Fitzgerald said.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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