He was best known as the man with the vision to restore the theaters that make up PlayhouseSquare

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CLEVELAND -- Members of the PlayhouseSquare community are mourning the loss of founder Raymond K. "Ray" Shepardson.

Shepardson died Monday at the age of 70. Lights at PlayhouseSquare were dimmed at 8 p.m. Tuesday in his honor.

He was best known as the man with the vision to restore the theaters that make up PlayhouseSquare, driving a downtown Cleveland transformation that is felt as much today as when it began decades ago.

Shepardson first got the idea for the revitalization project working for the Cleveland Board of Education, where he was looking for meeting space for teachers. He then managed to convince many others how important the theaters are to the community.

It took a seven-year run, including hundreds of performances each year, before the theaters were fully restored, PlayhouseSquare says.

Shepardson would go on to spearhead theater restoration projects in Columbus, Detroit and St. Louis. Adding to his legacy, he consulted on more than 35 major restoration projects across the United States.

"We remain deeply grateful to Ray. He was a true visionary and, were it not for his engaging personality and determination, PlayhouseSquare would not be in existence," said PlayhouseSquare President and CEO Art J. Falco. "We are proud to carry on his legacy."

PlayhouseSquare representatives say they will dim the marquee lights in his honor Tuesday evening, in the theater tradition.

Memorial service plans will be announced by PlayhouseSquare later this spring.

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