Puppeteer Greg Temple Made Magic From Wood And Strings

"When he put a puppet on his hand, he transferred his energy into it, made it come alive." - Chris Carter, founder of the Northwest Puppet Center, regarding puppeteer Greg Temple.

"He was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and if you saw him on stilts you'd say, `Oh, my gosh!' But he was a dreamer, a risk taker and a kid." - Eileen Van Hollebeke, Temple's wife.

"He always had a lively imagination and was an avid reader about different cultures." - Geraldine Temple, Greg Temple's mother.

Greg Temple, who died Sept. 15 of cancer at 44, enjoyed a 25-year career making magic with marionettes. The Seattle native also was in the business of making memories.

His sister, Michelle Temple, who like other family members resides in Seattle, said Mr. Temple took up puppetry at his alma mater, Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, where he was involved with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

He and a friend bought an old Dodge truck, put a top on it like a Gypsy wagon, and toured Oregon and California doing shows with marionettes in the early 1970s.

Mr. Temple once said, "I'd do it again. It was a great way to go. The lifestyle was exciting, we saw the world, we wrote our own pieces, and we were able to make a living."

In 1972 he toured England, where he carved and built his Punch and Judy show under the tutelage of famed English puppeteer A.R. Philpott.

In 1973, he and his then-wife were invited to teach in Australia. He worked his way over from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on a tramp steamer.

Mr. Temple fell in love with the country. He toured the outback, learning about the land, entertaining the aboriginal people instead of schoolchildren, and playing the didgeridoo - a hollow eucalyptus branch blown into to produce a low drone.

He returned to the U.S. in 1987 because his father died. Mr. Temple divorced, performed puppet shows and remarried.

"The nicest thing he did for me," said his mother, "was give me a grandson on my birthday in 1990."

"He was a tinkerer," his wife said, "and he also loved music. He played guitar and harmonica."

Chris Carter said Mr. Temple was wonderful at comedy and active in Puppeteers of Puget Sound, often donating shows for good causes.

"He had unusual rapport, even with young audiences," she said. "He had a very gentle, open way that made kids feel comfortable. The little ones would be put at ease immediately."

One of his most memorable stories was of a Hiroshima girl dying of leukemia. She was trying to fold 1,000 paper cranes, praying to live.

Mr. Temple, himself fighting bone-marrow cancer, built a 20-foot crane "flown" by three adults with poles. It became synonymous with his own spirit seeking to fly free of Earth's strings.

Survivors include his wife; his children, Sunny Temple, Michael Ralston and Wesley Ralston; and his mother.

Services have been held. Remembrances may be sent to Mr. Temple's family, 437 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds, WA 98020, or to Camp Good Time, c/o American Cancer Society, 2120 First Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109.