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Willard S. Belknap

Company G-2

18 Mar 1939- 17 Jul 2020

Place of Death: Moscow, ID

Interment: TBD

It is with great regret and sorrow that I must notify you of the death of our classmate, Bill Belknap, on 17 July 2020, in Moscow, ID, as a result of kidney disease. 

Bill is survived by his wife, Donna; their daughter, Kim, and son, Bill; four grandchildren; and one great grandchild. 

Funeral plans are pending. 

Condolences may be sent to Donna at 840 Conestoga Drive, Moscow, ID  83843. 

In lieu of flowers, donations in Bill's memory may be sent to the University of Idaho, Bill Belknap Scholarship Fund, 875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3151, Moscow, ID  83844-3151. 

Well done, Bill.  Be thou at peace.

Click here to go to Bill's Last Roll Call Tribute.


Class Memorial Pages\G-2 Bill Belknap.pdf


Willard S. (Bill) Belknap passed away on July 17, 2020 after a struggle with Congestive Heart Failure.

Bill was born to Willard L. and Wilma H. Belknap in New Castle, Pennsylvania on March 18, 1939. He is survived by one sister, Linda Lenz, who resides in Fayetteville, PA.

Bill attended the public schools in New Castle, played football, was a class officer, and graduated in 1957. He was recruited to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, entering on July 3rd, 1957 and graduating in 1961 with a commission in the Artillery of the US Army. He served in the 25th Infantry Division, resigning his commission in 1965.

At heart, he was a football coach. He had the good fortune to coach for two years while in the Army and left the service to pursue his dream.  He coached football for ten years at the University of Arizona on the staff of four different head coaches while also obtaining his master’s degree. He served for three years as Associate Director of Athletics at UA before moving to the University of Idaho to accept the position of Athletic Director in 1978.

Bill loved the ten years spent as Director of Athletics at the U of I and enjoyed a huge stretch of success.  Vandal Athletics was in a slump on his arrival, but with improved fundraising, some very good hires and good fortune, things turned around quickly. Bill hired coaches Don Monson, Dennis Erickson, Keith Gilbertson, Tim Floyd, and Pat Dobratz. Seven different Vandal teams combined to win 13 conference titles, as well as a 1986 WNIT title in women’s basketball. Football and men’s basketball both garnered NCAA top-10 final finishes, and Idaho’s women’s teams earned the 1982-83 All-Sports Champion honor for the Mountain West Athletic Conference during Bill’s tenure. Bill was inducted into the North Idaho Hall of Fame (2003) as well as the University of Idaho Hall of Fame (2008). Following this golden era as the AD of Vandal Athletics, Bill moved into another role serving the University as director of development and executive director of the U of I Foundation during the Centennial Campaign. 

Pulled back by his love of athletics, Bill left the U of I to accept the position of NCAA Southland Conference Commissioner, headquartered in Plano, Texas. After three years as Commissioner, his desire to be back on a college campus brought him to Wichita State University where he served as Athletic Director for six years, retiring in 1999.

On Bill’s third day in Arizona in 1965, he had the good fortune of meeting Donna Gayle Sluder on a blind date. They were married ten months later on June 11, 1966.  It was a great union and the beginning of a 54-year marriage. Donna taught elementary school on each of Bill’s career stops once the kids reached school age.  They have two children, Kimberly and Billy.  Kim is in the beauty business, living in Priest River, Idaho and Billy works for the city of Moscow in community development. Each of their children have two of their own. Kim is married to Terry Miller and their daughter, Taylor, is head Volleyball Coach at Spokane Falls Community College.  Morgan teaches elementary school in Priest River.  She and her husband, Tyler Douglas, have one child, Leighton Lee, 9 months old. Billy and his wife Lisa have Madison, a senior at Moscow High School, and Sawyer a student at Moscow Middle School.  The grandchildren and great grandchild have been a source of joy for Bill and Donna.

When Bill and Donna retired in 1999, they purchased an RV and hit the road for two years, traveling coast to coast and border to border before settling down again in Moscow again in 2001.  They spent many summer days on the beaches of Luby Bay on Priest Lake in their RV and also spent many winters in Tucson where they made countless memories.

There will not be a funeral service.  If you want to do something in remembrance, the family suggests contributing to the Bill Belknap Endowed Scholarship with the U of I Foundation. 

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:

Cullum No. 23513-1961 | July 17, 2020
Died in Moscow, ID
Cremated. Ashes scattered.

Willard Samuel “Bill” Belknap was born in New Castle, PA to Willard L. and Wilma Helen Belknap. Bill graduated from New Castle Pennsylvania High School, where he was on the honor roll, track team and the starting left tackle on the football team, as well as the vice president of the senior class. Bill was recruited to come to West Point by the football staff. Bill had other college options, so he decided to flip a coin (25 times!) to determine whether to go to West Point or not. Fortunately for West Point, and Bill, the flip turned out for Bill to enter the Class of 1961 on July 2, 1957.

Bill continued to excel as a cadet, graduating in the upper half of the class. He played corps squad football as a plebe and yearling and was promoted to corporal as a cow and a lieutenant as a firstie. Bill was recognized by his classmates by selection to the Honor Committee for his last two years. During his First Class year, Bill was the coach of the Company G-2 Intramural Football Team. The team tied for the Second Regimental Championship. Little did any of us know that this was to be the first of many successful football coaching positions held by Bill. He was an easy-going guy who was liked by all.

Upon graduation, Bill was commissioned in the Artillery. He attended Airborne School, followed by Ranger School. During Ranger School patrols, Bill was often “selected” (because of his size) to carry the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), weighing 19 pounds, instead of an M1, weighing 9 pounds. His Ranger buddies were thankful! After Airborne and Ranger training, the Artillery basic course was a vacation. After Artillery School, Bill was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, HI. Life in Hawaii was certainly not a vacation. Officers were required to be at the first formation Monday through Friday and to prepare for and be present at Saturday morning inspections. Life on the beach at Waikiki dissolved into a Sunday respite. Moving closer to Schofield Barracks to reduce the one-way, one-hour commute time was a wise choice.

Bill was selected to be the division Artillery football team coach. Because the 25th was isolated, each brigade had their own football team and played in the Division Conference. Bill’s team won the Division Conference, and he was on his way to what would become a career.

Bill resigned in 1965 and went to the University of Arizona as a graduate assistant football coach. While there, Bill was head freshman coach and an assistant varsity line coach for Head Coach Bill Young, as well as three other head coaches. Jim Young brought assistant coach Larry Smith with him to Arizona. Larry had entered West Point with the Class of 1961 and resigned at the end of plebe year—truly a small world. Bill’s years in Tucson were momentous: He met (on his third day in Arizona) and married the love of his life, Donna Gayle Sluder, 10 months later on June 11, 1966. They had two children (Bill and Kim); Bill obtained his Master of Science degree from the University and he went on to become the assistant athletic director.

In 1978, Bill accepted the position of athletic director at the University of Idaho, located in Moscow (Idaho, that is!). Bill and Donna enjoyed 13 wonderful years there. Vandal athletics were in a slump when Bill arrived, but with good hires, good fortune and improved fund raising, things turned around quickly. Seven different Vandal teams combined to win 13 conference titles, as well as the 1986 WNIT title in women’s basketball. Football and men’s basketball both garnered NCAA top-10 final finishes, and Idaho’s women’s teams earned the 1982-83 All Sports Champion honor for the Mountain West Athletic Conference. Bill was inducted into the North Idaho Hall of fame as well as the University of Idaho Hall of Fame. Following 10 successful years as the athletic director, Bill moved into another role, serving as the director of development and executive director of the University of Idaho Foundation. Three years later Bill was made the commissioner of the Southland Athletic Conference, and they moved to Dallas. In addition to the challenges of the new job, Bill was able to connect with several classmates in the Dallas area. In only three years, Wichita State came calling, and Bill accepted their offer to become its athletic director. In 1999, Bill retired and, with Donna, went on the road in an RV. After two fun-filled years traveling coast-to-coast and border-to-border, they retired to Moscow.

In retirement, Bill taught athletic administration part time for two years at Washington State University. He later worked for the NCAA, reviewing basketball officials. Bill and Donna thoroughly enjoyed their children, grandchildren (Taylor, Morgan, Madison, and Sawyer) and their great-grandchild, Leighton Lee, in their retired years. The family would like to thank all the people who responded to Bill’s passing with phone calls and donations to Bill’s Athletic Scholarship Fund at the University of Idaho. Bill will be remembered as a wonderful friend and classmate to those who knew him. We will love and miss him always.

Well Done, Bill: Rest in Peace.

— 1961 G-2 classmates and his wife