New Paltz, NY

Raymond T. Kurdt, age 76, of New Paltz, NY, passed away on Monday, July 27, 2009 at his residence of natural causes.

Mr. Kurdt was born January 14, 1933 in Amityville, NY the son of the late August Bernard and the late Emma (Voss) Kurdt.

He was a professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz for over 30-years.

Mr. Kurdt conveyed his vast knowledge and total commitment to scores of eager students. He was equally inspiring and demanding in the classroom, imparting a great understanding of, and respect for, the art of theatre. Many former students remained his lifelong friends, and continue to work in professional theatre. Mr. Kurdt was a professional designer whose creative and inventive settings graced the stages of Goodspeed Opera House, SUNY New Paltz and New Paltz Summer Repertory Theatre, Woodstock Playhouse, and An Evening Dinner Theatre. His reputation, built upon a sophisticated design aesthetic constructed on the most meager of budgets, made him a highly valued and trusted colleague to theatre directors and producers alike.

Beginning in 1968, Kurdt began collecting and preserving significant design sketches by renowned theatre artists. Renamed in his honor upon his retirement from SUNY New Paltz, there are over 400 works in this important collection now housed in the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.

In retirement, Mr. Kurdt owned and operated Front Row Center, a gift shop specializing in the performing arts located in Water Street Market.

He is survived by one daughter, Julia B. Kurdt of Charlotte Courthouse, VA; a son, Paul J. Smith of New York City; one brother, William Kurdt of Lyndenhurst, NY; several nephews and a niece. — He was predeceased by one brother, Bernard Kurdt of Fishkill, NY.

Friends and relatives may call from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29.

The funeral service will be held on Thursday, July 30, at 10 a.m. at Copeland Funeral Home, Inc., 162 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY, with The Rev. Howard Major, III officiating. Burial will be in New Paltz Rural Cemetery, New Paltz, NY.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Broadway Cares, 165 West 46th St., NY, NY 10036 or McKenna Productions, Ltd., PO Box 459, New Paltz, NY 12561.

Arrangements by Copeland Funeral Home, Inc.; 845-255-1212. If anyone wishes to express condolences online please go to