Billie L Beard

Born: Friday, March 4, 1932
Passed: Saturday, September 29, 2018

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Professor Billie "Bill" L. Beard, 86, of Rockford, passed away Saturday, September 29, 2018. Born on March 4, 1932, in Decatur, NE, the son of Fred and Kate (McRary) Beard. He earned his Doctorate in Humanities from UCLA. Bill taught at Bates University, UCLA, London, and Rockford University. After teaching he helped at Lundstrom Travel and traveled the world. He was active in the Ziock Group and the Rockford River District, directed over 500 plays, and help design Keeling-Puri Peace Plaze and Haskell Garden.
Survived by numerous nieces and nephews; and his friend, Robert Sutton. Predeceased by his parents; brothers, Kenneth, Leonard, & George Beard; sister, Lauretta Larsen; and infant sister, Bonnie Kate Beard.
Private Services will be held. Memorials may be made to Rockford University Theater Department c/o Clarks Art Center, 5050 E. State St, Rockford, IL 61108.

Condolences & Shared Memories (10)

  1. John Shea

    Dear All, Bill Beard was an early mentor of mine at Bates College where he came to direct the theatre program starting in 1969. During the two years that I studied with him he helped change my life and unleash the potential he saw in me and in others. The first production we did together was Marat/Sade - I played Marat, Bill directed. Bates had never seen anything like it - it shook the campus and filled the theatre with new purpose and excitement. It was everything Bill was at that time: revolutionary, provocative, bold, brave. It was sensational, but with a purpose. It inspired me. More plays followed, musicals, one acts, comedy, drama. Under his guidance I began to write, direct, applied to Yale Drama School, got in (the first student ever accepted from Bates), went to NYC and the rest is my history. Bill Beard was a key person in my life as a crucial time. While I'm sorry that we lost touch over the years I'm happy to know that his dreams of travel came true and know that the many lives he touched continue to pass on his teaching, his infectious enthusiasm, wherever their destiny takes them. Love and thanks, Bill. John

  2. Carol Burnett

    Our daughter sent a message to Carol Burnett's management company about the loss of Bill. She received this reply: > > Dear Amanda, > I was so sorry to hear about Bill's passing. Bill was one of the first people to encourage me when we were students in the theater department at UCLA. We hung out together, laughed together and played together. I was thrilled to re-connect with him when he came to see me do one of my Q&A shows recently. He occupies a special place in my heart. > Sincerely, Carol Burnett

  3. The Stamm Family

    Bill was a great friend to our family, and provided loving encouragement and guidance to our kids Amanda and Matt. He was great to be around - a lover of good stories and great food. We will miss him.

  4. "'Bonnie Daye" Steele

    My heart aches Bill, to learn that I will never see you again in my lifetime. You have been such a loving and inspirational part of my life for sixty years. You were my counselor at church camp when I was a teen. You were a part of "The Townsmen" Quartet with my boyfriend during college days and wooed me with your music. You were a counselor and minister to me and my husband before we married and even baptised him into our church. You and I became traveling companions in our later years, when I was single, and we have traveled the world together. You even included my Mother on our travels to China, Thailand and VietNam. A trip of a lifetime for Mom. You honored me by including me on a visit to your friends', the Murphy's, home in the UK. You have inspired me to be a more avid theatre goer and I will forever hear your voice singing "Black is the Color of my True Love's Hair"! I'm grateful for the time we recently spent together at your home in Rockford and I will miss you forever. I love you Bill, I miss you, but may you RIP.

  5. Valeri DeCastris and David Beccue

    I met Bill while we were both doing community planning work. We both had a love of theater. Somehow our attention turned to creating beautiful parks in urban spaces. He showed me the park that he did in the Haskell neighborhood and on Whitman Street. He was so proud of them. He inspired me to create Immigrants Park at Cunningham and Winnebago Streets, in the neighborhood my family has lived in for nearly a century. He consulted with me and gave me many tips and helped me to pick out the plants. The park won a National Make a Difference Day Award. It never would have happened without Bill. My husband and I would visit him often at his house, even when he was ill and we would talk during his last difficult months. We took in a play at the Fireside a while ago. I was concerned about him over the last several months and offered to help him. He needed help at home and wanted to put things on Ebay. He was in and out of the hospital but I never expected this. A bright light has gone out in Rockford and our lives. May he burn brightly in the heavens. We'll miss you Bill! Wish you were having a funeral! Condolences to his family and friends.

  6. Don, Kyle & Marge

    We got to know Bill when he became an early and ardent member of Friends of Ziock (FOZ). From our standpoint one of his starring roles was when he showed up impersonating founder Bill Ziock at our celebration after earning national historic status for the Ziock Building. The building originally was named for Bill Ziock and later became to be known locally as the Amerock Building. Bill Ziock had lost his left arm in a knitting machine accident so “our” Bill tucked his arm inside his sport coat and pinned the coat sleeve up halfway. “Our” Bill, of course was well studied in Bill Ziock's history and remained in character, talking with FOZ guests about his life. We surely will miss Bill's enthusiasm, ideas and support for preservation even as one of the projects he loved is well underway.

  7. Peter Zammuto

    Paula and I are very sorry to hear that Bill passed away. Bill was a good friend and will be dearly missed personally and in the theater world. Love you Bill.

  8. Kevin Murphy UK

    Such sad news, Like loosing one of the family, having known Bill for 35 years he will always have a special place in my heart as I am sure he will in so many others. So many stories to remember him by including the time he arrived at our house at the beginning of one November straight from Heathrow, opened his suitcase and handed my mother an enormous “not so” frozen turkey and all the rest of the essentials to make a Thanks Giving Meal. Will miss you old friend, I'm sure you and dad will have fun whipping those Angels choirs into shape.

  9. Deborah Mogford

    My thanks to Bill for making me feel I made a positive contribution to Rockford University. His kindness will be missed.

  10. Dr. joan e. kole

    I was honored to have been complimented by him on a performance as Helga ten Dorp in Deathtrap and to have considered him a friend and acting coach. Our theatre community has suffered a great loss with his passing. Loved you, Billie!

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