Western theatre professor passes away

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Missouri Western theatre professor Don Lillie passed away on Thursday, Feb. 26, in his home.

Lillie was a professor in the Theatre, Cinema and Dance department for over 30 years.  He taught introduction to theatre, stage combat, historical fencing and other theatre-related classes.

Lillie was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and often talked about the honor and respect that veterans deserve.

He was known for the wisdom that he had about his craft and the joy that he carried when he worked.  He will be remembered by the people he worked with and the students that he influenced.

Founding Dean of the School of Fine Arts Dr. Bob Willenbrink not only worked with Lillie, but was friends with him for around 40 years.

“One of the things that I knew about him was that he had the same sense of humor, the same love of other people and the same love of theatre and the performing arts his whole life,” Willenbrink said.

Lillie and Willenbrink attended Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Kentucky, together.

“He will be missed greatly – not because of what he did, but because of who he was,” Willenbrink said. “The world needs more good people like Don Lillie.”

SGA President Daniel Hager, who was an advisee of Lillie’s, remembers him as a great early influence in his college career.

“My first adviser when I came here was Don Lillie,” Hager said. “I was an unprepared freshman that was going through day-by-day worrying about stuff instead of actually accomplishing anything, and he was one of the first professors to actually hold me accountable.”

Hager explained that he transitioned from a high schooler to a college student because of Lillie’s influence.

SGA Senator Brian Shewell’s college experience was also impacted by Lillie.

“He gave me my first A ever at Western, so that was awesome,” Shewell said. “Potter Hall is going to be much, much different now that Don isn’t there.”

According to Meierhoffer Funeral Home and Crematory, services will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, at Brookdale Presbyterian Church. Lillie’s family will gather with friends from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, March 2, at Brookdale Presbyterian Church.

Lillie is survived by sons Matthew Lillie, Paul Lillie and Shawn Blessing; daughters Susan Lillie, Katherine Colleen Lillie and Rebecca Downing; grandchildren Mason Miller, Bella Downing, Marcus Downing and Tinslee Blessing; sister LaVerne Cole; brother Dennis Lillie; and numerous nieces and nephews.

For the official memorial piece for Don Lillie, please read the March 19 edition of the Griffon News.


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