Tyler Groton, 35, died unexpectedly on Oct. 6, 2021, at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, Maryland.
Tyler was born on Feb. 22, 1986, in Salisbury, Maryland, to parents Thomas C. Groton III and Althea Smith Groton.
Tyler is survived by his parents, Judge Thomas Groton III and, Althea Smith Groton; and Clay Groton IV (brother), and wife, Melissa, of Cambridge.
He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, T. Clay Groton, Jr. and Marie Danzeglock Groton, and maternal grandparents, Andrew Custis Smith and Belinda Hill Smith.
He is also survived by an aunt, Lynne Weidner; cousin, Melisa Anne Weidner; niece, Anna Groton; nephew, Adam Groton; aunt, Tish Dryden; uncle, Ray Dryden; cousin, Alex Dryden; and James Price, as well as numerous friends.
Although born in Salisbury, Tyler grew up in Snow Hill. He had been a member of the Nassawango Country Club swim team and later became a certified lifeguard in which capacity he worked for the lower shore YMCA for many years.
He was a member of the Boy Scout Troop 193 in Pocomoke and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Tyler’s Eagle Scout project consisted of building a shelter for homeless cats.
He also participated for a number of years in the gifted and talented writing program. Tyler completed the Crystal Beach Triathlon, placing first in his age group.
After attending Snow Hill elementary and middle school, he graduated from Salisbury Christian School where he whetted his appetite for acting; appearing as “Motel,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and numerous other plays at the school.
He attended Towson University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors’ Degree in theater. As a theater major at Towson, he appeared in “ Zoo Story,” “Diary of Anne Frank” and “Largo Desolato,” among several others.
He also served on lighting, sound, building, backstage, and costume crews.
Tyler was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
He lived in the Mt. Vernon Section of Baltimore City where he was active with numerous theaters in the area, most prominently the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.
In a memorial, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company indicated “Tyler was a multi-talented artist who worked as an actor, crew member and bartender and as one of our most meticulous and charming house managers. He brightened every room that he entered. Tyler was smart, witty, talented, and full of life. There was no doubt he was attending a show when you heard his infectious laugh.”
He appeared in plays such as “Romeo & Juliet,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead,” “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Tempest,” among others.
Upon graduation from Towson University, Tyler was employed by McDonogh School in the theater department. He booked and managed hundreds of events in the Burke Center, Ceres M. Horn Theater, and Klein Lyceum.
The McDonogh School community mourns the sudden death of Tyler Groton, the assistant manager for the Burke Center for the Performing Arts.
Groton joined the McDonogh family as theatre manager in 2011 and quickly became an integral part of the staff and a beloved member of the community.
“Tyler’s presence on campus will be sorely missed. He impacted everyone in one way or another,” says Head of School David J. Farace ‘87. “But it was his connection with kids that made the biggest impression. They appreciated his patience as a teacher and his sense of humor. Tyler loved any excuse to dress up, whether it was Halloween, Spirit Week, or a well-tailored suit for the opening night of a show.”
He brought his expertise and experience to McDonogh where he built sets, designed lighting, operated sound and light equipment, guided the tech and backstage crews, and booked and managed hundreds of events in the Burke Center, Ceres M. Horn Theatre, and Klein Lyceum annually.
Tyler made his directorial debut in 2015, when he guided a group of talented middle school actors in a performance of “The Little Prince.”
Groton said he was attracted to the play because of its large ensemble which makes up the scenery and props that have a constant presence in the story. Tyler had the performers wear LED bracelets so they became stars, literally and figuratively.
“I really wanted everyone on stage to have a purpose and feel that without them the play wouldn’t have been what it was,” he said.
He was most proud of his role in bringing “The Laramie Project” to the McDonogh stage in the fall of 2019. As the director of the play, which details the brutal killing of gay college student Matthew Shepard, Groton said he not only wanted to stretch the actors’ ability with the demanding piece of documentary theater, but he also wanted to foster discussion about the treatment of LGBTQ people.
In a 2020 McDonogh Magazine article, Groton explained that Matthew Shepard’s story resonated with the cast, crew, and the audience of “The Laramie Project” well after the final bow, “I love when a show has an emotional impact, when it doesn’t leave you at the curtain call, when you go home and are still thinking about it,” he said. “I love when it starts conversations and brings up things that maybe you couldn’t do in another medium.”
Indeed, the play served as a catalyst for conversation about how people speak to each other, treat each other, and view each other.
Farace, who played the role of Shepard’s father in “The Laramie Project,” says, “I had the unique opportunity to be directed by Tyler. I learned so much through that experience—beyond acting skills. I am so grateful that he had the opportunity to bring this meaningful play to the stage.”
When the covid-19 pandemic hit, Groton and his colleagues quickly pivoted and became experts in coordinating webinars and virtual events.
During the 2020-2021 school year, he helped guide members of the Upper School Theatre Lab through “Zoomicals: The Musicals,” a weekly virtual opportunity designed to keep students engaged in theatre, and “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms,” an online production that takes place in a virtual world.
“Tyler’s presence in the arts community was incredibly impactful. Students loved him because he treated them like people—never talking down to them. Colleagues loved him because he had the unique ability to make you feel seen and respected while not compromising his own identity and big personality,” recalls Kara Zimmerman, director of Fine and Performing Arts. “His laugh could make even the most stoic person smile. He will be forever missed.”
Tyler was proudly an organ donor.
A graveside funeral service will be held on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at 11 a.m. at All Hallows Episcopal Cemetery in Snow Hill. Friends may call at the Burbage Funeral Home 208 W. Federal Street in Snow Hill from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations may be made to the Tyler C. Groton Memorial Fund at McDonogh School. Gifts will be used to support the theater program. The McDonogh School address is: 8600 McDonogh Rd, Owings Mills, Maryland 21117.
Letters of condolence can be made to the family via burbagefuneralhome.com.