Dr. Bill Wittliff, who penned the screenplay for the epic 1985 mini-series 'Lonesome Dove', has passed away at age 79.

The news came from Denise M. Trauth, President of Texas State University. She penned a touching tribute to Wittliff that was posted to Facebook Monday morning.



"Dear Texas State Community,

It saddens me greatly to share that Dr. Bill Wittliff, a Texas State Hero, and a dear friend, passed away on June 9, 2019.

Bill and his wife, Dr. Sally Wittliff, founded The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University in 1986 to create a special collections research archive, library, and exhibition gallery focused entirely on the creative spirit of Texas and the Southwest. Because of their continued support, today The Wittliff includes more than 500 special collections in literature, photography, music, and film, and attracts visitors, researchers, and lifelong learners from around the globe. It stands as a tribute to Bill’s legacy.

Bill was a gifted writer, filmmaker, photographer, artist, and visionary. He was an inspiration to all who knew him, but particularly to our students. During special programs at The Wittliff attended by hundreds of people of all ages, Bill could usually be found in the corner of the room surrounded by students as he patiently answered questions about the creative process.

Because of Bill and Sally’s generosity and vision, people from across the U.S. and around the world have come to know Texas State through the remarkable collections of The Wittliff.

We mourn Bill’s passing and send our deepest condolences to Sally and the Wittliff family." - Denise M. Trauth, Texas State University - Department of English Facebook Page


Adapting a beloved book into a screenplay is no easy task, but Wittliff managed to translate Larry McMurtry's work into a mini-series that's essentially required viewing for every Texan. Growing up, every other home I visited had the VHS box set of 'Lonesome Dove' on the entertainment center shelf front and center. The people who didn't have the box set prominently displayed likely had a bootleg copy they recorded off the TV.

Wittliff left behind a great film legacy (having written 'Legends of the Fall' and 'The Perfect Storm' as well), but he also leaves behind a physical testament to the creative spirit of Texas. Art and Seek reports that Wiffliff and his wife, Sally, founded the Wittliff Collections at Texas State in 1986 - a series of museum exhibits housing beautiful artifacts displaying the unique artistic process that live in Texas and the Southwest has molded.



We lost a great Texan today, but because of his passion for Texas' history and literature, he and his work will always be with us.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a VHS box set to dust off.