Victor Lang Jr.

Victor Lang Jr. died Saturday in Galveston.

File photo

GALVESTON — Victor John Lang Jr., a performer, teacher and author, died Saturday at his Galveston home. He was 78.

As recently as June 7, he was regaling audiences at tThe Grand 1894 Opera House with tales of the city’s storied past.

“Victor was a member of our collective heart as a performer, raconteur and lover of life,” said Maureen Patton, executive director of the opera house and Lang’s longtime friend.

“He took pride in being a curmudgeon, but was unfailingly respectful to the people with whom he worked,” she said. “He grew up in a time when social graces were of great importance and often bemoaned the fact that we have lost so much of that in today’s world.”

Lang was born June 28, 1936, in St. Mary’s Infirmary to Katherine Burkett and Victor John Lang.

He grew up with a cadre of Galveston cousins — part German, part Italian — in the island’s steamy ‘Sin City’ days. His one-man performance was a tribute to that time.

A critic described Lang’s stories as recollections of the “Four B’s” — bingo, bordellos, blackjack and bootleg liquor.

“He was a crackerjack bridge player and a wonderful friend,” said Carla Hendrickson Chassaignac, Lang’s cousin.

Another cousin, Mark Stevens, said Lang was the life of the party at every family gathering.

“When Victor was 4 years old, he was on a shopping trip with his mother at the Eiband’s Department store,” Stevens said. “While she chatted with a shopkeeper, he used a pair of pinking shears on the back of her dress exposing more than a little slip. It was a favorite family story.”

Lang had a 25-year career as a congressional staffer and private-sector lobbyist in Washington and Philadelphia before returning to Galveston.

He taught public speaking at Texas A&M University at Galveston and wrote a column for the Guidry News Service.

Lang was a board member for The Grand, as well as a performer with many fans.

Lang asked to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered in the Gulf of Mexico.   

A celebration of his life and art will be held on stage at the opera house at a time to be determined, Patton said.

It was Lang’s wish that any donations in his memory be made to The Grand 1894 Opera House, the AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas or the Galveston Island Humane Society.

(4) comments

Miceal O'Laochdha

Victor was a good friend and the very definition of a Gentleman. His razor-sharp wit and rare intelligence will be sadly missed. My wife, children, and I are all better people for having had the opportunity to know him (and especially to converse with him).

I will never be able to view the old film: "The Man Who Came to Dinner" without thinking that Monty Woolley did not play that character as well as Victor did.

Rest in peace my friend, you had a full and a colorful life; and the repose of your soul will be in our prayers tonight.

Jan Johnson

He was a distant cousin on my mom's (The Stechmann's) side of the family. Fay Allison directed both of them im J. M. Barry's ("Peter Pan") one-act play, "The Twelve Pound Look." Set just during the Gay '90's, turn of the 20th century, a housewife decides she wants more and leaves her well-to-do husband. Years later, he hires her (without knowing it is her) as a stenographer . . .

Mom prided herself on "one-upping" Victor during that whole production which lead to Fay's Masters of Art in Theatre . . . Their ego clashes kept me squarely in the middle!

Yes, he also played Sheridan Whiteside in COM's production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Pretty good immitation of Monty Wooley's performance, I must admit!

Victor certainly lived a full and varied life! His speech pattern sounded like he was from Boston (from his time in D. C. I suppose). He would always refer to his mom as "Motha" . . . he also used to play the piano at Mother Harvey's Bordello at 27th and Postoffice, noting that " . . . Motha would NOT have approved!" He also swore he'd walked down every street in Galveston drunk at least once . . . . RIP, Victor who is probably up there right now entertaining Robin Williams with his stories . . .

Curtiss Brown

Good guy, I saw him at Jack's last Tuesday. He was always smiling and happy to see me. A very gracious man. A gentlemen when few anymore know how to be a gentleman. We will miss you Commodore.

Ron Shelby

He's one of those people that you really enjoy talking to and learning from. Unfortunately, there's always a lot more to learn, than time to learn it. He's one of those that I'll incredibly miss.

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