There is no doubt Bill Mutimer was loved.

"A beautifully talented man." "A wonderful director, mentor and all around amazing person." "A light in the world." "A wonderful, charismatic, gentle man." "Immensely talented and intensely dedicated." "An empathetic and uplifting human being." "A great teacher but an even better person." "An inspiration to me and many more!"

The accolades fill the pages of Facebook as students, colleagues and friends mourn the loss of the beloved Lehigh Valley theater icon and theater head at Northamptom Community College.

When the 60-year-old Mutimer died unexpectedly at his home March 6, he was, as was typical, in the middle of a myriad of theater projects.BillC

The Allentown resident had just finished directing "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" Feb. 25 at Cedar Crest College; and "Mamma Mia!" at Northwestern Lehigh High School, where he is the districts drama director, last weekend. Mutimer had recently started rehearsals for "Mary Poppins" at Northwestern Lehigh Middle School; and next week was slated to start rehearsals for "A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Northampton Community College. He also had scheduled community auditions next week for four musicals planned for the 2024 season at Northampton Community Colleges Summer Theater, for which he was producing artistic director.

His schedule may have seemed hectic, but theater was in his blood and he approached each show with an unbridled passion.

"He always wanted more theater- another show, another audience, another performance," says Brett Oliveira, a friend and colleague. "Even when he was tired, or needed a break, his focus was always on the next show - what can we do next, how can we do it differently, and what kind of statements should we be making."

At Northampton Community College, Mutimer guided season after season of challenging theater for his students and launched the community colleges inaugural summer theater series seven years ago.

"He would direct four shows at NCC, and that wasnt enough so he directed shows at Cedar Crest and Northwestern Lehigh and The Pennsylvania Playhouse, and that was not enough, so he built Northampton Community College Summer Theater from the ground up out of his sheer determination and force of will," Oliveira says.

Inspired by his years as a faculty member for Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, in 2017, he decided to start his own summer theater series of five shows at Northampton with casts that included both equity actors and local performers.

"We want to offer our students a chance to network with professionals and students from other colleges," he said at the time.

Now this summers Northampton Community Colleges Summer Theater, which was to bring "West Side Story," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Mamma Mia" and "Dr. Suess's Cat in the Hat" is up in the air.

Mutimer was scheduled next to direct "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Northampton in April. Since rehearsals had not yet started, that production may not happen.

The next Northampton show "The Laramie Project" opening tonight through March 11, is being directed by Clair Freeman and plans are for it to go on as scheduled.

"Bill was very proud that NCC was producing The Laramie Project, so we've decided to go forward with tonight's opening," Freeman says.

He adds there will be an announcement of Mutimers passing before each performance.

In an email to the NCC community, college president David A. Ruth said "Bill was an iconic symbol of our theater program and a dear friend, colleague and mentor to so many. Bills passing leaves an enormous void in the heart of our campus community. He transformed the theater program into one of the best in the area and a highlight of the colleges arts program."

He said counseling is being offered for students.

Originally from Georgia, Mutimer came up north to get a bachelors and masters degree in theater from University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

After graduating, he settled in the Lehigh Valley, and immediately got involved in community theater. For many years he was artistic director of the Main Street Theater in Quakertown. After it closed in 2004, he became co-owner and artisic director at Center for the Arts on Main, also in Quakertown, before becoming an adjunct professor at Muhlenberg College. In 2010, he began teaching theater at Northampton Community College, and became the head of the department.

Over the years, he has directed and performed on nearly every stage in the Lehigh Valley, including Pennsylvania Playhouse, Civic Theater, Muhlenberg College, Cedar Crest College, MunOpCo, and Pennsylvania Youth Theatre. He also was the final artistic director of Theatre Outlet after George Miller and Kate Scuffle went to Ireland.

"As a producer, actor, and especially as a supportive, well-loved, and gifted director/educator, from Main Street Theatre, to his work with us at Theatre Outlet and Selkie, and on to NCC, Bill created and shared theater that was always exciting, new, provocative, inclusive, collaborative and that pushed boundaries," Scuffle says. "He was as passionate an audience member as he was a theater artist. His enthusiasm, curiosity, and joy in life and art made him an inspiration, and a friend that I cant believe is gone. His loss is an irreplaceable loss to us not only in the performing arts community, but to audiences in the Valley and beyond, and to his beloved students."

The last show he directed at Northampton was Januarys "Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties," a raw, cutting edge indictment of sexism.

Although he is known most recently for his directing, Bill was a consummate performer and some of his roles “ Max Bialystock in MunOpCos "The Producers," Marcellus Washburn in Pennsylvania Playhouses "The Music Man" and last summers role as fading Broadway actor Barry Glickman in Northampton Summer Theatres "The Prom" were stand-outs.

NCC theater student Max Wetherhold considered Mutimer not only a mentor, but a friend.

"Bill was truly a light in the lives of everyone who knew him," Wetherhold says. "The impact he made on countless people is immeasurable. Whether you knew him as a mentor, director, professor, or friend, he was always there to welcome and accept you with open arms. The loss of him has left not only a giant hole in our community, but also in all of our hearts. While his absence will be deeply felt, the memories he left behind will remain present in the many lives he touched, and the theater community which will never be the same without him."

His mother Barbara Wetherhold also became close to Mutimer, and says she and Max will be adopting Mutimers black chow Fozzie.

"He has left a huge hole that we can never fill," she says. "He is a light like no other. When he loved you, there was no doubt in your mind he loved you. He brought out the best in people as performers, as actors, and as human beings. He was unabashedly himself. He met everyone with a smile and open heart. We were all blessed to have known him."

Oliveira who has know Mutimer for 20 years, says Mutimer changed his life.

"He gave me the opportunity to leave my non-theater job and turn my passion and part-time hobby of theater into my full-time job, and Ill forever owe him a huge debt of gratitude for that," Oliveira says. "He saw something in me, and gave me the chance to do what I was meant to do. Countless students can say the same, that Bill took a chance on them, and that chance transformed their lives. He was such a vital part of the heart of our Lehigh Valley theater community."

Freeman echoes Oliveiras sentiments.

"Bill Mutimer literally changed the course of my life with a single text," he says. "He sent me a message regarding an opening for an adjunct teaching position at NCC. Id previously been working as a guest director at Cedar Crest College and had done a few shows at Pennsylvania Playhouse, but it was Bill who opened the door to a teaching career."

Both Oliveira and Freeman mention Mutimers humor and how he was quick to laugh.

"We will all miss his deep belly laugh, his telling his actors "Dont suck" before the show, his random quotes in funny voices, and his friendship," Oliveira says.

Freeman adds Mutimers laugh was "distinctive, one of a kind; and one that will echo in my mind, and the mind of anyone who knew him for years to come."

Funeral services will be in Atlanta where Mutimers family lives. Barbara Wetherhold says Mutimers friends plan to hold a Celebration of Life for him locally and will announce details at a later date.