Albert Willard “Will” Bellais passed away on October 20, 2016 at Hospice House in Savannah, Georgia. He was 82 and suffered from dementia.
Will was born August 28, 1934 in Colon, Panama, along with his twin brother William Frank “Bill” Bellais, sons of Charles Earl Bellais and Dorothy (Merriam) Bellais. A Naval family, the Bellaises moved several times: to Norfolk, VA in 1936, Annapolis, MD in 1939, and Oxnard, CA in 1945. Will graduated from Oxnard High School in 1953. He then attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM, graduating with a journalism degree in 1957. After graduation, Will joined the U.S. Navy and was sent to Antarctica as a journalist. While enjoying a break from the South Pole in New Zealand he met Glenis Lethaby. The couple married on March 17, 1961 in Vancouver, Canada, before settling in Georgetown, Washington, DC. He worked as an editor at Underwriters Laboratory in DC, before deciding to go back to school. Will received his M.F.A. from George Washington University in 1970. The same year Will and Glenis, along with their two children Leslie and Ian, moved to Rockville, MD.
For the next 29 years, Will was an associate professor at Montgomery College-Rockville in the Speech and Drama Department. Teaching was his passion and many of his students still hold him in high esteem. He also had a talent for directing plays. Some of his more memorable productions included The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Bus Stop, Summer and Smoke, The Devil and Daniel Webster, Angels Fall, and Sherlock Holmes. Will also acted in commercials, TV shows such as Simon & Simon, and movies such as Enemy of the People, Major League II, and Guarding Tess, as well as doing print modeling. In 1999 Will retired from Montgomery College.
With the new millennium, Will began a new life. Glenis and Will divorced in 2000 and around the same time he came out publicly as a gay man. Will moved to Savannah, GA in 2001, where he continued to teach acting and speech at Savannah State University, Armstrong State University, Savannah Technology College, and South University, where he directed The Wiz and Suessical the Musical. In his free time, Will traveled frequently to sing with the Gay Man’s Chorus of DC, supported LGBTQ concerns, and was an active member of the Savannah Unitarian Universalist Church. On December 21, 2010, he joined in a holy union with Carl Wise.
Will was preceded in death by his parents, sister Anne Weston, sister-in-law Carol van Dusschoten, and brother-in-law Roger Lethaby.
He is survived by his children Leslie Anne Bellais, Madison, WI, and Ian Willard (Alison) Bellais, Gilbert, AZ; three grandchildren Taylor, Ryan, and Molly Bellais, Gilbert, AZ; his brother The Rev. Dr. William (Ann) Bellais, Chillicothe, MO; his sister Charlotte Bellais, Greeley, CO; Glenis Bellais, Rockville, MD; partner Carl Wise, Savannah, GA; brother-in-law Michael Lethaby, Wanganui, New Zealand; sister-in-law Sharon Robertson, Cooks Beach, New Zealand; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah on November 19, 2016 at 11:30. Reverend David Messner will be officiating. A second memorial service will be held at Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, Bethesda, MD, early in 2017 at a date to be determined.
Donations in his name can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah, Georgia Public Television, or the Alzheimer’s Association.
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My sincere condolences to all who were touched in their lives by “Will.”
Rita K Harrell
Just saw Will was gone…He was an influencer of my acting career and theatre bug I kept developing. May be RIP ….
Will was one of the most influential teachers of theatre that I have ever known. He lived and breathed the profession. I not only enjoyed his classes at Montogoney College back in the 70s, but also the many conversations we had together years later. Professor Bellais, it was a pleasure to know you and an honor to call you friend.
Sorry for your loss, Will was a good guy and fellow teacher at MC. Good luck.
Mr. Bellais, Rest in Peace. I had the fortunate opportunity to take a class with you at Montgomery College back when I was 18 years old, which was over 30 years ago. I also had the privilege of seeing your own play produced at the newly constructed theater wing at Montgomery College. Soon after that, I left the area but I never forgot you or the indelible impression you left with me. It’s ironic that I did a search on your name today because you are the only memorable teacher from Montgomery College who left an impression with me. Thank you for sharing your passion with me, and so many others through the years. I offer my deepest condolences to your family and friends.
One of the few truly decent guys I ever met. G’bye, Will. Give my love to Rose.
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