Francis Gene McAlister, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, passed away on September 1, 2022 while vacationing with his family in Eastport, Maine. Born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 25, 1950, Frank was the son of Glendon and Lillian McAlister, of Walpole, Mass, and Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
He graduated in 1968 from McCluer High School in Florissant, Missouri, and then enrolled at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. where he studied electrical engineering, among other subjects, from 1969-1971. During training exercises, he served aboard the USCGC Eagle, the venerable ‘tall ship’ of the Coast Guard fleet.
In 1988, he married Ann “Nina” Migliorini. Their beloved son, Zachary Migliorini, was born in 1994 and the family lived in New York City.
A quiet, detached demeanor and pragmatic approach to life belied his dry sense of humor and quick wit. Though reserved himself, he delighted in the zany, whimsical and theatrical in others and gravitated toward the theater from an early age. He joined the Drama Club at McCluer, and then served as emcee for the rock concerts staged for cadets at the Academy. In 1971, he signed on to the stage lighting crew at the Chateau D’Ville dinner theater in Randolph, Mass. From there, his skills in carpentry, electrical design, staging, rigging, lighting, and logistics, and his steady and dependable team building and management made him a sought-after professional in stage production. A long time member of the AFL-CIO International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.), he belonged to Local 1 (New York City Stagehands, the premiere I.A.T.S.E. branch), and Local 52 (New York and New Jersey Motion Picture Studio Mechanics).
He worked for ABC and CBS, and managed a construction crew for NBC, creating sets for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the Rosie O’Donnell Show, and Saturday Night Live. He also designed and built sets for MTV’s music videos. His myriad credits include stage work for The New York City Ballet, the Shubert Theatre, Thespian Theatre, The Lighting Design Group, Inc., the New York City Dept.of Parks and Recreation, The Hudson Scenic Studio, The New School for Social Research, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He was particularly proud of being involved in the design and operation of the 16-meter tower, with mobile cauldron, built for the opening ceremonies of the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics.
His favorite work, though, was as a technician and production manager for rock and roll tours. In 1975, he was called to hire and head up a rigging crew for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ tour; in 1977 he was crew manager for Yes for their U.S. tour. The dozens of artists he worked with in his 35-year career took him around the world, and included: Heart; Blondie; Aerosmith; Meatloaf; Earth,Wind, and Fire; ShaNaNa; Barbra Streisand and Patti Smyth.
Those he leaves behind will remember him fondly for his fun-loving nature, his loyalty toward and deep love for his family and friends, his adventurous cooking, his terrible puns, his spectacular intellect and memory, and his tremendous generosity. Among the many dear friends who will mourn his passing, we would like to especially acknowledge Ms. Mimi Bensinger, Ms. Julie Aldrich, and Mr. Kwang Baek; we thank them for the joy and kindness they brought to his life. The family would also like to thank the staff at Calais Community Hospital in Calais, Maine, for their extraordinary kindness.
He is predeceased by his wife, Nina Migliorini, his parents, Glendon and Lillian McAlister, and his sister, Terese McAlister. He leaves his son, Zachary Migliorini, of Livingston Manor, NY, siblings Jean Cowhig, of North Adams, Mass., Mary McAlister and husband John Roemer, of Worcester, Mass., sister Marjorie McAlister and brother James McAlister, of Voorheesville, New York, and those we are grateful to consider sisters, Betsy O’Brien-Means of Williamsburg, Mass., and Helen O’Brien of Newington, Conn. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Steven DesRoches and wife Melissa Wilson, Katie McAlister and partner Chris Dominowski, Ivy Richter, Mia Roemer and fiance Dyllan Fullerton and grandnieces and nephews, Hannah, Keira, Joey, Lily, and Keenan. Arrangements by Mays Funeral Home, Calais & Eastport.