Check out the slideshow of 3 items below:

  • Slide Title: Most of the Bill Raoul Collection is accessible in the Mansfield Library stacks. Librarians are still cataloging some of the more complex items.
  • Slide Title: Most of the Bill Raoul Collection is accessible in the Mansfield Library stacks. Librarians are still cataloging some of the more complex items.
  • Slide Title: Bill Raoul at home

Honoring a Montana Theater Legend

Professor Emeritus Bill Raoul was a mainstay in the Montana Repertory Theatre and the UM Department of Theatre, where he taught scenic and costume design for 27 years. A brilliant teacher who wrote several textbooks on scenery construction and sound design, he was known for his wicked wit, encyclopedic knowledge of classical music and passion for his profession.

“His love of theater always shone through,” said Greg Johnson, director of the Montana Repertory Theatre, in a 2014 interview. “He was a brilliant, brilliant designer. He always had great insight for a director.”

When Bill passed away in 2014, friends, family and former students mourned the loss of a talented artist, designer and teacher.

In his memory, they rallied together to make gifts to UM in his honor, most notably to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, where Bill donated his collection of 11,550 CDs and 15,300 LPs of mostly classical and opera. Their gifts supported cataloging and display of the collection, which more than doubled the library’s holdings of musical recordings.

Dale Raoul and Ray ThompsonNow, two of his dear friends have gone one step forward, creating a legacy for Bill across several different campus departments.

Dale Raoul and her husband, Ray Thompson, have made an estate pledge that will create a scholarship for students in the School of Theatre and Dance; enhance the technical and design aspects of both UM and Montana Repertory Theatre productions; support classical programming at Montana Public Radio; and support cataloging and preservation of Bill’s music collection at the library.

“I have a great fondness for the theater department,” said Dale Raoul. “It meant a lot to me to be able to contribute – for myself and Ray, but also to honor Bill’s memory.”

Dale was born in Missoula and studied drama at UM, where she met and married Bill. Though their marriage wasn’t meant to be, they remained great friends. She kept in touch as she built a name for herself in theater and, later, in film and television.

She met Ray in Los Angeles, where he was raised and where the couple has made their home for over 30 years. He is also in the industry, having worked as an actor and as a lighting designer for CBS since 1982, earning nine Emmys and nine nominations along the way.

They’ve traveled back to Missoula often, visiting Bill and other friends, and guest lecturing at the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Given their connection, supporting UM through their estates was a natural fit.

“I’ve always been impressed by the faculty and by the school,” said Ray. “We are great supporters of the arts, and this has been a priority.”

Dale concurred, saying, “It was, for Ray and me, a really simple decision.”

She says they hope their gift will “perpetuate the fine work the University does, extend the vision of the arts in Montana and give drama students a broader vision of what their future could be.”