William Lightner Landis Sr. (1921 - 2017)

Obituary
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William Lightner Landis Sr., 95, of Concord, formerly of Sharon, Conn., passed away Thursday, April 6, 2017, after a period of failing health. Born in 1921, in Minneapolis, Landis was the son of Willis Emory and Anna Elizabeth (Lightner) Landis. During World War II, he interrupted his studies at the University of Minnesota to enlist in the Marine Corps. Following his military service, he completed his undergraduate education at Pacific Lutheran University in Seattle, where he won national acclaim for his oratory skills. He earned his Master's degree at the University of Washington. Landis began a career in professional theatre that would span five decades and both coasts. Following work in stage and film in California, Landis headed to New York City in the early 1950s. He auditioned for a production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, where he met the director and his future wife, Elizabeth E. Engrav. The couple founded the Downtown Theatre, Off Broadway on East 4th Street. There, they directed, staged and performed a variety of productions, including works of playwright George Bernard Shaw, including the American premiere of In Good King Charles' Golden Days, in 1957, the first Off Broadway revival of Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend, in 1958, and the world premiere of Jack Richardson's The Prodigal in 1960.

Landis joined the faculty of the Allen-Stevenson School in New York in 1959, where he would remain for the next quarter century, inspiring generations of students in English and the dramatic arts. He was honored after his retirement when the school dedicated the William Landis Assembly hall in his name. Landis and his family continued to stay active in professional theatre, through their long-term association with the Sharon Playhouse summer stock theatre in Sharon, Conn.. In the 1970s and 1980s they produced numerous shows, including the world premiere of Drums at Yale, by playwright and Sharon resident, Dr. Walter A. Fairservis Jr. Landis' last stage appearance was in 1987 at the Abbey Theatre in New York as Polonius in Hamlet, produced by long-time colleague Del Tenney, with Rita Gam, Douglas Watson and Dirk Benedict.

He spent his final years in education at The Gunnery, in Washington, Conn. In retirement, Landis pursued his passions of golf, gardening and bridge. He attained the rank of Silver Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League and enjoyed traveling to play in tournaments throughout the country. He continued to play actively until quite recently.

Landis was predeceased by his wife in 2001. He is survived by his daughter, Maura L. Willing and her husband, Charles G. Willing, Jr., of Concord, with whom he resided; his daughter, Elizabeth-Anne Platt and her husband, Charles Platt IV, also of Concord; and his son, William L. Landis Jr., of Hamden, Conn. He is also survived by grandchildren, Elizabeth E. Willing, Charlotte G. Willing, Charles Platt V and his wife, Anna Lurie, Margaret E. Platt and William L. L. Platt; a brother-in-law, Henry A. Engrav Jr. and his wife, Sherry Engrav; and a niece Heather Shakelford and her husband, James Shakelford.

The Cremation Society of New Hampshire has been entrusted with final arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Concord VNA Hospice Program, 30 Pillsbury Street, Concord, NH 03301.
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Cremation Society of New Hampshire – Manchester
243 Hanover Street
Manchester, NH 03104
603-622-1800
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Published in The Concord Monitor on Apr. 14, 2017