D.C. theater community mourns loss of Joel Markowitz, who battled ALS

The D.C. theater community is mourning the death of a major benefactor and supporter, whose love for the arts inspired many.

Joel Markowitz was the founder of DCMetroTheaterArts.org, and over the years, his small theater review site grew into the largest hub in the Mid-Atlantic for information on all manners of live productions, from major tours to high school and community plays and musicals.

He died on Tuesday at the age of 60, months after a devastating diagnosis of ALS. At the time, he vowed that his legacy would endure through the preservation of his beloved website.

"The legacy is very important," he told FOX 5's Jim Lokay in April. "It's important to keep it going."

With the help of friends, professional acquaintances, and other theatre fans, a contingency plan was put into place to keep DCMetroTheaterArts.org running. Markowitz continued to contribute to the site until he was no longer able to use a computer.

Markowitz's love of theater was celebrated in May at a special ceremony at Metrostage in Alexandria, Virginia. The theater company honored him with their Gary Maker Award, and numerous D.C.-area performers feted him with a special cabaret.

Prior to the cabaret, Markowitz was still able to walk and speak, though he was losing his ability to speak clearly. In his wry style, he told FOX 5, "Some of my friends are thrilled I'm not talking as much, but my job is to speak on the phone. And it's very discouraging, but I'm working my *** off on the site. They haven't been able to get rid of me, but they have tried!"

Funeral services of Markowitz are scheduled for Thursday. His family is asking that memorial contributions be made to the ALS Association.