Harry Preston, an award-winning author and screenwriter who lived in Garland, passed away Nov. 23, 2009. He was 86.

Born in Durban, South Africa, he began his career writing children’s stories at age 14 and also sang in the band at Pagel Circus. After moving to the U.S. in 1948, his talents seemed to have no boundaries. He authored many fiction and non-fiction books, wrote several local television series, directed films and documentaries, and was a screenwriter for MGM studios. To date, his credits include more than 100 published books, and more than 300 films of all types.

In 1989, he received a Life Achievement Award at the Corpus Christi Film Festival for his contribution to the Texas film industry. He taught screenwriting at Richland College in Dallas from 1990 until 2009, when he decided to concentrate on his autobiography.

Harry Preston is survived by his daughter, Lori Preston-Lacy of North Idaho, and lovingly remembered by his cousins in South Africa.

A “Celebration of Life” will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 at Siciliano’s Italian Restaurant, 2210 W. Buckingham Road in Garland. All are welcome to join us for an afternoon of fond memories.


Thomas Raymond Jaekels was born Sept. 15, 1962, in Milwaukee to Paul and Margaret Jaekels. He spent his childhood in Milwaukee before moving to Dallas in 1985.

For the last 25 years, Tom created and designed costumes for theater, television, opera, film and custom couture in the Dallas area. Tom earned his bachelor of fine arts degree in costume construction from the University of Wisconsin Professional Theater Conservatory in Milwaukee. He also attended Illinois Wesleyan University with a music performance scholarship.

Tom moved to Dallas in 1985 to work as an intern at the Dallas Theater Center. After his internship he was asked to join the staff and he stayed for nine years. During that time, he designed the costumes for Adrain Hall’s production of "A Christmas Carol."

Tom worked for the Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Shakespeare Dallas, Lyric Stage, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, Theatre Three and the Dallas Children’s Theater. He received the Dallas Critics Forum award for outstanding costume design for the theatrical production of "The Misanthrope" with Gryphon Players, and the Leon Rabin award for outstanding costume design of a drama for his work on "Sailing to Byzantium" for Echo Theatre.

Nationally, Tom worked with such theaters as Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville, American Players Theatre in Madison, and Stage West in Hartford. Tom’s costumes also appear nationally in local stores at Halloween. He designed several series of costumes for Paper Magic in New York City.

Tom served as the assistant costume designer and costume shop manager for "Barney and Friends," completing nine years of PBS series programming and three live concert tours. A member of Dallas’ IATSE Local 464, he worked on such TV shows as "Prison Break," "Lax," and "Walker, Texas Ranger." He was awarded two daytime Emmy awards for his work on the PBS children’s TV series "Wishbone."

Tom was a tenor for the Turtle Creek Chorale for more than 18 years. He also sang with the Cathedral of Hope choir for many years. He was most excited about singing in Dallas’ mixed chorus Resounding Harmony.

Thomas Raymond Jaekels passed away on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2009, with his family at his side after a year-long battle with kidney cancer. Tom is preceded in death by his mother and farther; grandparents; his aunt, Mary Ann Slaney and uncle John Slaney; and his mother-in-law, Rita Hawkins. He is survived by his partner of 24 years, Mark Hawkins; his big sister, Cathy Bianco and family of Kansas City, Mo.; his brother Tim Jaekels and family of Omaha, Neb.; and his little sister Mary Jaekels-Arzt and family of Phoenix.

Tom’s life will be celebrated at a memorial service at 4 p.m. Jan. 9, 2009, at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs, Dallas, TX 75235.

A memorial service for Shane Williams, who died Oct. 29, will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 in the patio bar at JR.’s, 3923 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 8, 2010.
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