UPDATED – With the Oct. 14 death of Theresa Sloat-Elliot – better known to Wichitans as Tracy Sloat – that leaves the future of three Wichita businesses in question.
Robert Elliot, Sloat-Elliot’s husband of 29 years, is not yet sure what he’ll do with the Actor’s Lab, Art Effects and the Inn at Glenstrae, a bed-and-breakfast in Sleepy Hollow.
“She gave me her blessing … to do whatever,” Elliot says.
The two met in New York where Sloat-Elliot was an actress.
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“I convinced her to come here,” Elliot says.
He says she was open to the idea because she said, “Kansas – that’s where dreams come true.”
Sloat-Elliot, 56, started the Actor’s Lab in 1987 to teach acting and do corporate coaching.
“She just brought out things,” says former car dealer Dawson Grimsley, who studied with Sloat-Elliot over the course of a couple of years.
“She’d just tell you like it was, straight up.”
Grimsley still remembers the first take of his first commercial and what Sloat-Elliot said to him.
“She looked at me and said, ‘Well that was crap.’”
He says it was “absolutely a great experience” working with her, though. He says she taught “how to be yourself.”
Grimsley says he also remembers Sloat-Elliot for her patriotism and love of the national anthem, which she showed through a short film, “Still There.”
Sloat-Elliot once sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” for Grimsley. She had him stand in the center of a room and stare at a wall as she did it.
“Absolutely blew me away. I mean incredible,” Grimsley says.
“I’m getting goosebumps right now talking about this.”
In addition to the Actor’s Lab, Sloat-Elliot and Elliot ran Art Effects, a decorative painting company that specializes in historic building restoration.
“I always considered Theresa to be my artistic conscience on that one,” Elliot says.
He says it’s difficult to imagine working without running things past her.
He says he’s in the same quandary with the bed-and-breakfast.
“It’s kind of hard to continue doing this because she was the life of it,” Elliot says. He says guests “just always felt so loved and so attended.”
Still, Elliot says the business is his home, too.
“It’s very hard. I mean, I love this place.”
Sloat-Elliot was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago.
“She called it ‘energetic debris,’” Elliot says.
Sloat-Elliot refused to say “cancer.”
“She wouldn’t give it that power.”
There will be a rosary for Sloat-Elliot at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church followed by her funeral at 2:30 p.m. At 4 p.m., there will be a reception at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.
Elliot says he’ll let us know what he decides to do with the businesses. He says his wife knew he might not keep them.
“She understood where I was coming from – that I didn’t think I’d want to continue any of them without her.”