BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – William “Bill” Bayley Lockwood was described recently as “the kindest person I’d ever met.”
With sparkling blue eyes, a mischievous smile, and a heart of gold, Bellows Falls and Rockingham were lucky indeed to have known Bill.
As a contributing writer for The Vermont Journal and The Shopper, he covered what this writer dubs “the fun stuff.” He faithfully reported on the arts scene, offering those that missed events a backstage look at the latest production by Main Street Arts or David Stern, and a sense of the magic and talent on stage. Bill attended countless performances at the Bellows Falls Opera House this past decade, all three Southern Vermont Flannel Festivals, and the Black Lives Matter March, both observing and bearing witness. Bill reported on the community visit when the Vermont Council on Rural Development brought 200 residents together to create a vision for Rockingham’s future and identified the community’s top three needs: a community, senior, and youth center; redevelopment and rehabilitation of historic buildings; and climate resiliency. Bill covered the arts and entertainment scene with a thoughtful and fun-loving attitude, and always made readers want to attend the next event.
Bill’s “day job” was in social work, working with the State of Maryland for 22 years, followed by 17 years with the State of Vermont. Bill and his wife Jeanie would have celebrated their 44th anniversary on June 9, 2023. They came to Bellows Falls via Baltimore, then Brattleboro, and immediately joined the Our Town Civic Organization, dedicated to improving cultural life and preserving Bellows Falls history. With this group, Bill and Jeanie helped to restore the clock tower and the Bellows Falls Opera House. They created the Front Porch Theater Company, and produced many plays as well as a summer concert series on some of the gorgeous local porches around the village. Bill stayed behind the scenes, while his leading lady often took the main stage. They organized successful fundraisers, including a Bellows Falls Opera House cookbook, which is still available, to raise funds for the restoration. In 2006, Bill was awarded the title of Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce “Person of the Year,” in recognition of 10 years as chairman of the committee.
Bill realized his dream of becoming a writer, and published six historical fiction novels, many of which he released here in Bellows Falls at the Village Square Booksellers with book signings and meet-the-author nights. In the months before his passing, Bill had started editing his last novel, “Boulevard des Zouaves,” a sequel to “Gare de Lyon,” set in World War II-era Morocco and France.
Jeanie promised that she would complete and return it to his editor for publication. He recently received a posthumous offer to publish “This Year’s Crop,” a story he based on many of his experiences working with troubled youth in Vermont. Bill also wrote many short stories, several of which were published in various literary journals.
Bill will always be remembered for his warm and welcoming smile, cheerful and optimistic nature, sense of humor, generous spirit, kindness, and willingness to help.
To honor Bill’s memory, the family suggests donations to adult programming through the Rockingham Free Public Library, Wild Goose Players, the Bellows Falls Opera House, or considering sponsorship of a classic film. In May, Jeanie’s friend Michelle Bos-Lun sponsored a film with a social justice theme to honor and remember Bill, but it was rescheduled for Aug. 9.
A Celebration of Life for Bill Lockwood will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, in Saxtons River at Main Street Arts. September was Jeanie and Bill’s favorite month, and Jeanie felt it fitting to celebrate him then. The Vermont Journal and The Shopper express thanks to Bill for his many years of service, and the great journalism he provided our community. As said in his obituary post in January, “he will be missed greatly.”
Bellows Falls is a better place for having been the community Bill called home these past decades. Thank you Bill and Jeanie both, for your energy, compassion, and spirit.