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.