Starlight Remembers Bob Rohlf

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of former President + CEO Bob Rohlf, who died peacefully on the afternoon of March 4 in Phoenix, AZ. Bob joined the Starlight family in 1980 and the impact of his leadership for 29 years at Starlight and Kansas City is not just enduring, but essential to appreciating Starlight’s legacy today.

Bob’s efforts to stabilize Starlight’s budget and summer programming in the 1980s have ensured that Starlight continues to play a critical part of today’s thriving arts and culture landscape. His commitment to the sustainability and growth of Starlight can be seen today in the 10-story Jeannette and Jerome Cohen Community Stage built in 2000 alongside more than $32M in facility and program improvements.

Starlight’s Bob Rohlf Internship program, named in his honor in 2008 from longtime Starlight benefactors Don and Adele Hall, provides unique opportunities for young people to explore careers in the arts and has influenced literally thousands of young professionals, including our very own President + C.E.O. Lindsey Rood-Clifford.

Bob was one of the first people I called when I learned I would be taking over stewardship of Starlight – and Bob’s – legacy. I remember so many things he had shared from my first summer as an intern almost 20 years ago.

Lindsey Rood-Clifford Starlight President + C.E.O

Bob will be greatly missed as a cherished friend, supporter, and leader of Starlight who brought so much joy through performances to thousands of audiences. Bob’s wishes were to celebrate his life at Starlight and to continue his legacy of support by directing any memorial gifts to be made to Starlight. Starlight will be honored to host Bob’s celebration of life this August, and, as an expression of sympathy, donations can be made to Starlight Theatre in Kansas City by visiting or by calling (816) 997-1153. 

Rood-Clifford shared a memory she holds dear. “When he accepted Starlight’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022, including one of his favorite Charlie Chaplin quotes – ‘You need power only when you want to do something harmful. Otherwise, love is enough to get everything done’ – a sentiment I’ve reflected on often. He believed in exceeding expectations and taking each new challenge head on, and that’s the legacy he leaves that we all aspire to achieve.” 

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