JEFFERSON COUNTY ILLINOIS
OBITUARIES

Donald Woodrow Bellah
                                                                                              

FORT WORTH - Donald W. Bellah, 85, retired dean of the fine arts department 
at Texas Wesleyan University, died Saturday morning, May 5, 2001. Funeral: 
2 p.m. Tuesday at Polytechnic United Methodist Church. Rev. E. Frank Leach and 
Charles Holland will officiate. Casket bearers will be Joe Brown, Dan Garland, 
Rusty Garvin, Ray Jenkins, Quentin McGown and Wayne Wallis. Burial: Friday at 
Palestine Cemetery in Omaha, Ill. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the funeral 
home. Memorials: Should friends desire, memorials are requested to the 
Donald W. Bellah Scholarship Fund at Texas Wesleyan University. 

Donald W. Bellah was born June 22, 1915, in Omaha, Ill., to Russell Woodrow and 
Nelle Hancock Bellah. He retired from Texas Wesleyan in 1981 after 40 years on 
the faculty. He began his teaching career as a senior at Illinois Wesleyan University, 
where he received both his bachelors and masters of music degrees. On completion of 
his graduate studies in 1940, he joined the Texas Wesleyan faculty as professor of 
organ and chairman of the division of fine arts. His civilian teaching was interrupted 
by four years of naval service in World War II, during which he taught at the Navy School 
of Music in Washington, D.C., before his honorable discharge in 1945. On his return to 
Wesleyan, he renewed his work to develop and expand the fine arts curriculum. He recruited 
to the faculty nationally recognized piano professor George Anson, his former teacher at 
Illinois Wesleyan. In 1950, Donald Bellah was instrumental in securing accreditation from 
the National Association of Schools of Music and in establishing Wesleyan's Bachelor of 
Music degree program. In 1955, he produced "Finian's Rainbow," the first production in what 
has become an annual tradition of Broadway musicals showcasing the talents of Wesleyan 
students and faculty. He pursued doctoral studies at Indiana University and received an 
Honorary Doctor of Music degree from John Brown University in 1960. When the academic 
structure of Texas Wesleyan was reorganized in 1979, Donald Bellah was named dean of the 
School of Fine Arts. During his long career, Donald Bellah served his university and 
community in many ways. He was a member of the boards of the Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth 
Opera and the Fort Worth Civic Music Association. He was a Fellow of the General Education 
Board and served as president of both Fort Worth Music Teachers Association and the Texas 
Music Teachers Association. Donald Bellah was an evaluation visitor for the National 
Association of Schools of Music and served as Province Governor of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. 
For his work as a teacher, he received from Wesleyan students the Golden Rule Award and 
from his fellow faculty members the Faculty Recognition Award. He was also honored as 
Outstanding Educator of American in 1971 and as Texas Music Teacher of the Year in 1975. 
Donald Bellah was a member of the American Guild of Organist and served as organist of 
Polytechnic United Methodist Church beginning in 1953. He traveled extensively before and 
after retirement, but his great passion in life was cultivating orchids in his large 
backyard greenhouse. Donald Bellah leaves behind him generations of former students who 
thank him for being a teacher and a friend. 

Survivors: Brother, Joseph R. Bellah and wife, Nan of Mount Vernon, Ill. Robertson Mueller 
Harper 1500 Eighth Ave., (817) 924-4233 

Source: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Date: May 7, 2001
Submitted by: Robert W. Loman


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