Eduardo Ivan Lopez of Montclair, a self-taught construction contractor who transformed his life and became an award-winning playwright, died on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. He was 83.
Mr. Lopez was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and moved with his family to Brooklyn at age 9.
After high school he decided to escape Brooklyn by enlisting in the Marine Corps, just as the conflict in Vietnam was heating up. Following his tour of duty, he married Carol Galbraith, a fellow Marine, and together they had four children, David, Sherry, Larry and Scott.
Honorably discharged, Mr. Lopez, then 22, decided to start his own construction company. With no experience, he took a book out of the library and taught himself how to build a house; within a year he had a thriving business with 12 employees and a new home in the suburbs.
But he decided to start over. The marriage ended, and he applied to college. Two years in community college were followed by a full scholarship to Boston College, where he discovered the wonders of theater.
Mr. Lopez continued his education — he was the first in his family to receive a master’s degree — at Tufts University, where he studied theater history and play writing. Teaching part time at Boston University, his career as a playwright and director took off.
He penned more than two dozen plays, plus documentaries for the Discovery Channel. Among his best-known early works (most of them produced Off-Broadway) are “Spanish Eyes,” “A Silent Thunder,” “Lady With a View” and “The Laureate,” a film of which won best screenplay at the Hamptons Film Festival.
Numerous awards followed. One artistic director called him “the Arthur Miller of his generation.” But as a writer of Hispanic descent, he struggled to get a foothold in mainstream theater companies. He wrote eloquently about that in The New York Times.
In 1991 Mr. Lopez married the longtime love of his life, former NY1 anchor Roma Torre, and they had two children, Alejandro and Alegra. The family eventually moved to Montclair.
In 1999 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but he continued to write, producing “Fireflies,” “A Natural Life,” “Ribbon Creek” and “Barth’s Dilemma.” He never complained and kept on writing even as the disease ravaged his body and mind.
Mr. Lopez is survived by his wife, Roma; five children (Sherry died in 2018); eight grandchildren and his two sisters, Grace and Celeste.
Visitation is Wednesday, Aug. 24, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Caggiano Memorial Home for Funerals, 62 Grove St. Services are Thursday, Aug. 25, at 11 a.m. at the funeral home, with interment to follow at Immaculate Conception Cemetery.