William Ward Bleakley, 25, of Crystal River and Tampa, Florida, died March 2, 2009.
He was a native of Crystal River, graduated from Crystal River High School with honors, and played varsity football, baseball and soccer. He earned bachelor's degrees from the University of South Florida in finance and accounting. At the beginning of his college career, he was invited to walk on to the USF Bulls football team. His hard work both on and off the field was rewarded with an athletic scholarship. He played in USF's first two bowl games, including its first bowl win. He began his professional career as a financial adviser and had recently begun working in the Crystal River Firestone business owned by his parents. In addition to football, he enjoyed a wide variety of outdoor activities and other sports including boating, fishing, golf, baseball and volleyball. Not only was he close to his brother Blake, his parents and other family members, he also had legions of friends, classmates, teammates, teachers and coaches.
He is survived by his parents, Bob and Betty Bleakley; his brother, Blake; his grandparents, Bill Ward and Doris and Bob Bleakley Sr.; aunt Sarah Bleakley (Christian), uncle McLeod Bleakley (Paula), aunt Cathe Hubbard (Ron), uncle Wynn Ward (Liz), aunt Cindi Talamo (Chuck); and cousins Lillian Shettle (John), Justin Bleakley (Veronica), Nick Bleakley, Blaise Bleakley, Justin Hubbard, Derek Hubbard, Dianne Hubbard, Cristina Ward, Billy Ward, Brad Talamo and Melissa Talamo. He was preceded in death by his cousin Casey Talamo.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of the Strickland Funeral Home. A celebration of his life will be held at the Crystal River United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 7, 2009. A Will Bleakley Memorial Fund has been established at Crystal River's Mercantile Bank.
Published by Citrus County Chronicle from Mar. 6 to Mar. 8, 2009.