March 12, 1943 - January 9, 2014
Lloyd Willis Birdwell, Jr., 70, a lifelong resident of Dallas, Texas, died in the early hours of January 9, 2014, comforted by his closest friends and beloved dog, Gus. Lloyd was a polymath, an immensely talented, utterly hilarious man who brought tremendous joy and delight to all who knew him. After an early obsession with performing magic shows and graduation from St. Marks’ Preparatory School in Dallas, Lloyd attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, before transferring to the University of Texas in Austin. That was when the real magic began: Lloyd, a student of English literature, was inspired to put on a birthday party for Eeyore, the often-depressed donkey in A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” stories. The April 1963 event in Austin’s Eastwoods Park featured a maypole and donkey bedecked with flowers, honey sandwiches, and a garbage can of lemonade, with Lloyd, in a magician’s cape with wand and top hat, orchestrating the festivities. Eeyore’s Birthday Party is now an annual cultural event in Austin with thousands of attendees. Lloyd was delighted to attend the 50th celebration in April 2013, wearing, of course, his trademark magician’s outfit.
After graduating from UT in 1967 with a Master’s Degree in English, Lloyd returned home to work for the Dallas Civic Opera, and two years later, moved to New York City, where he worked on events planning in the City Parks and Recreation Department. A birthday for Eeyore in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and an all-night party in Central Park celebrating the first man-on-the-moon landing were among his early festivals. Although his enthusiasm for planning pageants and performing never waned (he loved playing the piano, singing show tunes, and attending the Metropolitan Opera and Broadway and Off Broadway theater), he began to focus his creative talents on playwriting. His plays ranged from musicals, like “The Magical Mayan Musical Murder Mysteries,” to comedies and serious drama. Lloyd also wrote and produced a documentary, “Cecilia,” about an eponymous homeless autograph hound.
In addition to Dallas, Lloyd had homes in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Kansas City, Missouri, and traveled extensively. Trips to exotic locales sparked a latent interest in photography, and Lloyd’s work was exhibited in galleries in Dallas, New York City, and Durango, Colorado. Unfortunately, his diagnosis of liver cancer curtailed travel until a life-saving liver transplant in 2010.
His first post-surgery trip was to India (after telling his doctors he was going to Indiana; “only two additional letters,” he said), and he later went to Africa and little-visited Bhutan, where he photographed people and animals, landscapes and lifestyles. That work, along with his portfolio of Christo’s Gates in Central Park, was exhibited in his show, “Color in a World of Black and White,” last March in Fort Worth. A selection of Lloyd’s work can be seen on-line. In late spring, a “going away” party in his honor will held in Dallas. In a black-and-white world, Lloyd will forever be epitomized by color.
Memorial donations may be made to: St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church of Dallas; Baylor All Saints Health Foundation- Ft. Worth; Baylor Health Care Foundation-Dallas; or the American Cancer Society.Arrangements are under the direction of: ARIA Cremation Service & Funeral Home 10116 E. NW Highway Dallas, Texas 75238 214.340.8008
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