William Bleakley
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.
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141 Entries
Bob and Betty each and every year with love we think of you and your family.

gary steiner
February 28, 2021
In loving memory of one who shined as bright as the brightest star. We will love you and miss you always.
February 29, 2020
Just an outside observer.... read Schyler's book. Wanted to say to the Bleakley Family - the standard of leadership and human compassion - the love for others before himself- your son held himself to were and are of such a noble and rare quality -such a selfless loving human, it is hard to fathom his wisdom at such a young age.

I still wonder about the Lord's purpose in this horrific loss - But the testimony of how you raised your son evidenced by his actions under duress and stress, and his precious giving spirit has surely been a testimony of how to live life in accordance with Love.

Even 10 years later, I pray your grief due to this huge loss and gaping absence in your family, is balmed by His Holy grace until you are all reunited in Glory.
Anonymous Observer
September 20, 2019
I know it's been since 2009 but I will always remember that day.

God Bless
Melissa Vivenzio
October 10, 2015
I went to school with Will and he was such a great guy with high hopes. I was overseas when he passed away and lost connection with allot of people while I was over there. I just found out about his death and I am so sorry for the pain you must feel even today. I liked Will and remember many things about him. I hope you always keep your heads up and be strong like he was. That was he can see your smiling faces from heaven.
Jackie Rhodes
November 30, 2011
"unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality"

terribly sorry for your loss, may god bless you and hold you during this difficult time.
April 5, 2009
To The Family and Friends Of "Will"
I feel as though I knew him, though we never met, but I followed this story from the beginning, and oh, how proud of him you must be, for his strength and heroic measures.
True, the Lord took him way to soon, but he is looking down on all of you and keeping you under his wings, to protect and quide you thru this sad, sad time.
God Bless you all, and may you find some peace, knowing you raised such a wonderful son.
My prayers are with you all.
Helen Hofmeister
March 31, 2009
I have read the stories regarding the tragic incident, and it is clear your son was a selfless,caring individual. You must be so proud of his heroic actions. We all wish the story had ended differently. God bless Will and the other men lost. He will not be forgotten.

Marilyn Mills
Marilyn Mills
March 29, 2009
I wish there were words i could give that would help you get through this time,Will was a great person and he will be truely missed.
Jennifer Thompson
March 27, 2009
To The Bleakley Family: We are so sorry for the loss of your son, Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
John Gusha
March 25, 2009
To the Bleakley Family,

I as so sorry for your loss. It has been nearly a month since the tragedy, and I still tear up whenever I think about it. I didn't know Will but in reading the wonderful comments and stories about him I know we would have been friends. His heroic efforts during the ordeal is a testament to his character, his compassion for others, and his courage.

As many have said before me, you raised a very fine young man, and I would have been proud to call him my friend. Please know that Will is now at peace in a very special place in Heaven reserved for heroes. He is watching over you and comforting you. God bless you.
Nick DiMaggio
March 23, 2009
My heart goes out to the family at this time. After going through the same thing loosing a cousin the same way -lost out in the water of Galveston, Tx. I send up prayers of comfort, and love for you. Asking god to walk with you and be there during this time the most. Sending lots of love from the Houston Tx area, and the Good Hope Baptist Church. We are continueing to lift the family up in prayer.
cece willis
March 23, 2009
To the Bleakley Family
Just wanted to say how sorry we are for the loss of Will.
John & Doris Ludlow
Doris Ludlow
March 18, 2009
motherjoyce Richderson
March 17, 2009
I knew Will in high school, but not very well.

When he was 6 years old I knew him best as the cute (tall) little boy being chased around at recess by all the other little girls in my class. He left Lecanto the next year. I assumed it was because he was tired of being chased around.

He was in my "gifted" classes in middle and high school. I remember when he gave speeches he always said "thee" instead of "the".

To Will's friends & Family,
remember the good times, and I'm so sorry for you loss. Will definitely left here too soon.
Anna A.
March 17, 2009
I would like to say,im sorry for your loss.. God will let the truth be known to what really happened to your son and the other young men... God bless you and yours.
Elberta Mae
March 17, 2009
To the Bleakley and Ward families,

Our congregation has prayed for you in this time of William's loss. May God continue to watch over all of you at this difficult time in your lives.

St. Stephen Lutheran Church
Social Ministry Chair
Judy Brocato
March 15, 2009
Dear Bill and Sylinda, we are so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.
Tim and Jeanie Shoop
jean shoop
March 15, 2009
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
March 14, 2009
William Ward Bleakley,

I still can't believe that you are no longer here. I keep your picture on my computer screen and every time I see it I can't help but shake my head in disbelief. You were such an amazing man and I am so blessed to have known you for so many years. I just remember the excitement in your voice as you told me that you were going on this fishing trip. Never in a million years would I have thought that conversation would be the last one that I had with you. I miss you so much, but I know you're in a better place now. I'm so proud of you for everything that you have accomplished in your short, but very fulfilled life. You are not only Nick's hero, but you're mine. I love you, William Ward & you are forever in my heart, thoughts, & prayers.

To the Bleakley's: By now I think you've seen the impact that your son & brother have had on everyone that he has come in contact with. You raised an amazing man, Mr & Mrs Bleakley. God Bless You - Bob, Betty, & Blake.
Tiffany Reeves
March 14, 2009
Will, my friend, my love. As I read through some of these entries from people that didnt even know you, it makes me thank the good Lord that I had the chance to grow up with you, I had the chance to have cute puppy love with you when we were kids, and I had the chance to have a caring, close and truly special friendship with you for almost 20 years. I'm one of the lucky ones to have known you for who you are, your awkwardness, timidness, brilliance, athleticism, hilarity, sensitivity, and love you had for your friends, family, and life in general. Bob and Betty, absolutely you know what a great man your son always has, was and will always be.. Will, I love you with all of my heart, and I cannot wait to see you again...
Johnna Hall
March 14, 2009
Dear Bill and Sylinda: May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Richard & Nancy Buckheister
March 13, 2009
Will, I am going to miss your smiling face until we meet again one day in Heaven. Ill never forget our memories especially you trying to teach me how to golf! Watch over your family and friends! We love and miss you so much!!!
March 12, 2009
Bob & Betty,
We have prayed for all of you since we heard the first reports. Jim and I are USF football fans and we have met you several times when Will was playing. We rode the bus with you down to Miami and sat with you all at one of the football banquets. I'm sorry we missed the memorial and wanted to let you know you are in our thoughts daily. No words can express the sorrow you feel. Only time can heal but the beautiful memories you have will carry you through. Will, will never be forgotten during our life time. God be with you and your family during this time. Bless you!
Rayma and Jim Marquiss
March 12, 2009
My prayers go out to the family. May god bless all of you. Will is in a better place now.
Jamie Price
March 12, 2009
I know I dont know william, but I look at him as if he was my son. My daughter goes to USF. We dont always know why things happen, but he is with God who can taking care of william far more better than we can. Love Ya
Miriam Thompson
March 12, 2009
Our prayers go out to your family.
May God be with you always.
Susan Brannon
March 12, 2009
I am so amazed by Will's heroism he displayed in the cold Gulf that fateful day. Will's purpose in life is not for us to understand, it is His plan. My deepest sympathies to all the Bleakleys.
T Gminder
March 11, 2009
March 11, 2009
migdalia acevedo
March 11, 2009
March 11, 2009
I am sorry about your lost I didn't know Will personally but I knew of him through a friend of mine and he was a really sweet caring person that did always put others needs first before his he will be missed and still loved no matter what you will always be in our hearts and prayers
t c
March 11, 2009
Take comfort in knowing that now you have a special guardian angel to watch over you.
March 10, 2009
God bless them wherever they are ..
I am a mother and I imagine the horrible feeling.
Gladys Aguilera
March 10, 2009
May God be with you and your families. God bless..
Cindy Chandler
March 10, 2009
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Lucy Guerra
March 10, 2009
TO THE FAMILY OF WILL BLEAKLEY, Although my family and I never met you, our hearts goes out to you and all the families that are mourning this painful loss. May God be with you all and sustain you and be your comfort at this time. GOD is GOOD and HE will allow you all to see your loved ones again.
Ronald & Verna Roundtree
March 9, 2009
We would like for you to know that we are praying for you, the parents of Will, the brother of Will, and the rest of your family. You know that God is our only source of strength and comfort. May He put His arms around you and give you strength and guidance for each day.
Janneane and Rob Baker
March 9, 2009
To the Family of Will Bleakley,

May you know that many people throughout the country are saying prayers for Will as well as the other men lost in this tragedy. These men and their families have been in my heart and thoughts since I first learned they were missing.

From everything I have read, you raised a man of tremendous courage who was able step up as a leader during a time of great stress.

His actions will not soon be forgotten; not by Nick Schyuler and not by the many others who so desperately hoped and prayed for a different outcome for those young men.

I will not ever forget Will and his story. God Bless.
Lisa Holbrook
March 9, 2009
My deepest sympathy goes to the Bleakley family during this difficult time. God Bless.
Kathy Krizan
March 9, 2009
What wonderful memories you have of a young man who was so respected and loved by those who knew him. You will see him again one day. God bless you.
March 9, 2009
God be with your family and give you comfort. What an amazing young man Will was. We are praying for you.
March 9, 2009
My thoughts and prayers are with Will's family. He has touched the lives of people who never met him.
March 9, 2009
Though many years have passed since we saw your family Gary and I have always had fond memories of the boys and West Citrus Soccer.Our hearts go out to you .Find comfort in the fact that your Will was so special.We are so very sorry for your loss.
LJ and Gary Steiner
March 9, 2009
My deepest sympathies to the Bleakley family. I never met Will, but my son, Matt spent Spring break with Will and Nick last Spring. Matt said that is the first time he met Will and he said after spending the week with him, it was like he knew him forever. Matt kept saying what a great guy he was. As a parent, my heart goes out to Will's parents. I will pray for your strength. Please know that God is with him.
Christine Smith
March 9, 2009
Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Poetry Foundation

Sandra Haggerty
March 9, 2009
my condolences goes to the family. may you find comfort from the GOD of all comfort JEHOVAH GOD. psalm 55:22
March 9, 2009
To the Bleakley family: Our thoughts and prayers are with your family during this difficult time.
Tom & Maria V Diaz
March 9, 2009
Dear Bob,Betty and Blake, My thoughts and prayers are with you.I will fondly remember the small toddler I used to care for at daycare and call me, LaLa. May God bless and keep you .
Paula (LaLa) Rogers
March 9, 2009
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Noel & Anita Knight
March 9, 2009
Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for your loss. Memories of good times and the love of family and friends will encourage you in the days and months ahead. May the scriptures comfort you and give you hope and strength. Psalm 34:18 - "God is near to those that are broken-hearted; and to those that are crushed in spirit he saves. You are in my prayers.
Justine S.
March 9, 2009
To the family of Will, I am so sorry for your loss. I watched the news everyday when learning of this tragedy, hoping and praying that they would find these men and they could all go home, but it did not happen, and I am so sorry. I used to live in Florida, but live in Tennessee. I prayed for your son and the others. God Bless you.
Robin Cornett
Robin Cornett
March 9, 2009
We are sorry for you loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Sonny & Lena Cummings
March 8, 2009
Please accept our deepest sympathies.
Don & Debra Kidd
March 8, 2009
Dear Bob, Betty and Blake,
You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Will was such an outstanding young man who was loved by so many people. We send our heartfelt sympthomy to you and your family.
Dick and Claire Laxton
Dick and Claire laxton
March 8, 2009
My heart and prayers are with all of the family.
Denise and Chantel Newcomb and Beaulieu
March 8, 2009
Sorry for your tremendous loss, as I never knew you son Will, but followed this tradgedy with a sad heart. Know you are in our prayers as well as the other men lost at sea, for they are also someones sons, loved ones who will be greatly missed! Your son was a true hero, be so proud of him and thank you for raising a fine young man who thought of others first and not of selfish heart, this world lost a wonderful soul but may he be in Gods loving arms welcoming him home.
Tamara M
March 8, 2009
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bleakley,
We are very saddened by your loss of a wonderful Son, Citizen and all around remarkable individual. We never met your son and only learned of him through this tradgedy, he has definely found a place in our hearts. I have followed this story from the beginning and hope more kids can hear Will's story, it is inspiring. He was a Leader, Scholar and Hero. He show's us that even in today's world, when it seems that there are so many ways to stray towards the bad, he was able to remain strong and make the best of all his opprotunities. I pray and hope my children can have this type of legacy. I am in Israel currently and will surely make a point to say a special pray for Will, Marquis Cooper and for Cory Smith where Jesus was buried and at the Western Wall.
Hamilton, Christine, Erin, Kylie and Ava Rice
March 8, 2009
I never knew William, but I know by reading the article in the Chronicle that he was a wonderful person. You must be so proud of him. I recently moved from Florida back to Minn. but still keep up with what is happening. I followed the tragedy that took place and you were in my prayers daily, and will remain so. Please accept my sincere condolances for your loss.
Marlene Grassl
March 8, 2009
My heart goes out to Will's family and to my fellow pirates.
Blake Whelchel
March 8, 2009
Bob and Betty,
I'm remembering the encouragement you have given my mom and me, and we are so sad. We are in Las Vegas, but our hearts are with you guys.
So sorry.
Andrea Adams
Andrea Adams
March 8, 2009
M Cory Adams
March 8, 2009
I did not know Will but I do know the hurt of losing someone you love. Its the worst hurt in the world. God bless you and your family. You are in my prayers.
Theresa Hendrix
March 8, 2009
Lee & Marie Cook
March 8, 2009
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Jerry & Juliette Robitaille
March 8, 2009
I did not know "Will", but have followed this tragedy from the beginning. I wish I did know him. You were blessed and I feel his work is not done. May God give you all the strength, and courage to get thru this grieving process, and hope you will find some peace. He was a son to be pride of, for sure.
Prayers are with you all.
Helen Hofmeister
March 8, 2009
My prayers are with your family. I did not know Will, but I prayed each and every day for him to return, now he is in GOD's arms. May your family hold on to each other during this very hard time.My love goes out to all of your family.
wendy Hotz
March 8, 2009
Even though we never knew your son, my husband and I prayed for him and his friends return. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family.
Vicki & John Terranova
March 8, 2009
Dear Bob, Betty, and Blake, we mourn your loss of Will and pray for you in your time of mourning. May God comfort you in your time of sorrows and know that we shall continue to pray for your family...Rick and June Tock
Rick and June Tock
March 8, 2009
Our prayers are with the Bleakley family during their time of grief. Rest in peace Will.
Tony Grier
March 8, 2009
Will seemed to be a wonderful person--using up his vitally needed energy (in that situation) to dive for the supplies to help his boatmates survive, an excellent student, a walk-on football player that was voted by the players to be a captain on the team. Learning of his character has made me want to be a much better man. If I amount to be half the person he was, I will have greatly succeeded. What a loss... My heart and thoughts are with his family and friends. It is so sad.
March 8, 2009
What a tremedous legacy for a young man to leave. I never knew or met Will, but from the words spoken by friends and family it is evident that he touched the hearts and lives of many people in a very positive way. A life that ended too soon, but a life that was treasured. His memory will never pass for it lives in the hearts of those who will always love him. May God's loving arms support and comfort his family and friends
Jim Allen
March 8, 2009
Myself, my husband, & my children were stunned to hear about Will. Our prayers & heartfelt sympathy are with Mr & Mrs Bleakley & Blake.
May Our Lord Bless you & comfort you & embrace you at this time of loss. We want you to know what wonderful people we know you are & that you have so many people who love & will mourn with you.
May you know that you are all in our thoughts & prayers.
Love, Erin's, Aunt Carol & Uncle Augie
Carol Bollo
March 8, 2009
my heart goes out to the Bleakley family and all his friends god bless you all
Kelly FOX
March 7, 2009
Bob, Betty & Blake,

We have followed the story closely here in IN since we were first notified of Will's accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this tragic time in your lives. I remember babysitting for the boys when they were young and I was home from college. We will continue to pray for you all in the upcoming months as you work though the many overwhelming feelings and emotions you are encountering. May God give you comfort and strength to endure.
Lisa (Kuntz) & Gary Dick
March 7, 2009
I recently lost my son, OCT., 2008. There is no pain that compares to the loss of a child. I have focused on the fact that so many deserving people want children. Some have them and they are born dead, live only a few minutes, hours or just days. God blessed me with 40 wonderful years with my precious son before he took him home. I am fortunate to have been a part of his short life. I hope that the memories, love and legacy of a wonderful example of a human being your son left to you will bring you comfort. I know mine has. May God Be with you and Give you the strength you will need to cope with this tragedy.
Brenda Strickland
March 7, 2009
Bob, Betty and Family.

From the moment we heard the news about Will, we have been saying prayers for you and your entire family. There are no words that can take your pain away. We pray you find comfort in the legacy Will left behind and find comfort in the wonderful memories he left with you and others. May God, family and friends provide you comfort during this time of sorrow.
Doug and Julie Lofreddo
March 7, 2009
Dear Bleakley Family,
I just want to know how your family, and more specifically your son Will, has touched my life. I never met either of you, but I had the pleasure of watching the Bulls play a couple of seasons ago. I sat with a friend of mine, about 8 rows behind you, near the 50 yard line. I can remember Mr. Bleakley wearing Will's jersey, and especially the very proud look on his face. I know that feeling Mr. Bleakley, and when I look at my 10 year old son, I think of you and the wonderful times you shared with Will.
God Bless you and your family.
The Gutsche Family
March 7, 2009
Our thoughts and prayers are with The Bleakley family. May God comfort you all and peace be with you.
James and Kelly Lynch
March 7, 2009
Charles Ochello
March 7, 2009
To The Bleakley Family:

Our heartfelt condolences go out to your entire family. No one can possibly know the grief you are feeling at this time. Our family went through almost the very same ordeal in November of 2001 right here in St Petersburg. It was all over the news and only two of three survived. My son was one of them. So, needless to say, our family has relived the nightmare through this tragic story which was nearly identical. Only my son was found just before it was too late!

We are very blessed to say the least, and words can not tell you how very sorry we are for your loss. Our prayers and blessings are with you today and always. God Bless.

The Dryden Family
Sandra Lalonde
March 7, 2009
Sharon and I want to express our deepest sympathies and let you know our prayers and thoughts are with you. Bless you and your entire family.
Patrick Shipman
March 7, 2009
I have never been so affected by a news story in my life, and I don't even like football! I have had troubling sleeping, keep tearing up and can't stop talking about it. I have a 3 year old son, and I hope that he grows up to be half the man Will was. Try to remember that you will see him again and will spend eternity with him.
Libby M
March 7, 2009
Dear Family, I myself have gone through an ordeal similar to your son's and understand the magnitude of this situation. Even though I am not in your state I have kept your son close to my heart in prayer during this ordeal. My family will keep your son in our prayers.
Richard Johnson
March 7, 2009
My God be with you at such a horrible time of your lives. Keep streight among the family and friends and The Lord will see you through this. God Bless
Linda Sacco Hutches
March 7, 2009
This tragedy has hit very close to home and on behalf of my family , We are truly sorry for the loss of Will .These losses have spurned an increase in boater safety awareness and will become a long time positive influence . Will , smooth sailing and tight lines.
Todd Darby
March 7, 2009
To the Bleakley family,
I know that I join many others in conveying our family's condolences to you. I truly believe that God calls his most precious angels home long before any of us that are left think they should go, and that in a child's early return to God, they have achieved a great purpose. I hope that if anything positive can come from this tragedy, please know that your son's death was not in vain. This has energized the boating community's awareness of the importance of safe boating practices. We are praying for your family and I am sure that God will grant you the strength to endure this heartbreak.
March 7, 2009
Just want you to know our prayers and thoughts are with all of you.
Darren Ludlow & Family
March 7, 2009
You are a hero to many..... May you rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. God Bless.
The Wilsons
March 7, 2009
My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends. You are in my prayers Will. God Bless.
Carol Souto
March 7, 2009
May God Bless Your Family
Daryl and Nati Deitemeyer
March 7, 2009
Our prayers are with you and your family. We are just here for the season but was so sad to see it all happen.
Will sounded like such a nice young man.
Marty and Vicki
vicki naumes
March 7, 2009
We are deeply sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Winnie & Rick Biddleman
March 7, 2009
My heart felt thoughts and prayers to this bereaved family. Yall have been on my mind all week.
Rochelle Iles
March 7, 2009
Bob, Betty and family,

We just returned from the beautiful memorial service for Will. While we could never imagine what you and your family are going through, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Gary and Joanne Bartell
March 7, 2009
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your son. My heart goes out to your family and God bless Will's soul in heaven.
Jennifer Leon
March 7, 2009
We are both sorry about you loss. I also lost my son at the age of 20, Life must go on. We will say a prayer for you and the family. Jack and Teresa Hansen
Jack Hansen
March 7, 2009
Dear Bleakley Family,

As you grieve the loss of your son Will, never forget... he loved the Lord and because of his love for our Savior, you are going to see him again!

Our prayers are with you and your family!
Rick & Ronda Kyler
March 7, 2009
My heart and soul go out to your family.
Geodie Baxter Padgett
March 7, 2009
Our deepest condolences
Quail Roost RV Campground/ Randy & Nancy Fife
March 7, 2009
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