William Otto Bevilaqua

December 15, 1923February 8, 2019

BEVILAQUA, William Otto, 95, an artistic, multi-talented and intrinsically gentle man, died on February 8, 2019, in Richmond, Virginia, from complications after a fall in his home. Born on December 15, 1923, in Norfolk, Virginia, he was the son of Otto Vincent Bevilaqua, a merchant marine captain from Genoa, Italy and Dora Williamson of Hyde County, North Carolina. He grew up in Norfolk, graduating from Granby High School before serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II, where he drove landing craft from island to island.

He attended the Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received a degree in fine arts and graduated from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro with a master’s degree in art. After working as an art teacher in the Richmond Public Schools, he joined the art faculty at RPI, teaching in the commercial art department for much of his career there, and briefly served as department chair. In 1949, he married Marilyn Birtles, a fellow RPI art school graduate who also taught art in the public schools and at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Early in their careers, they spent a year traveling through Europe and later a long tour to Mexico, bringing back a voluminous portfolio of photographs of art works that they used in their classes. Greatly influenced by artist Alberto Giacomettti’s elongated human figures, even his own abstract work of human forms reflected his humanist perspective. As painters, sculptors, photographers and graphic designers, together they were an important part of the Richmond arts community.

Their design talents also were evident in their homes. They were the first to renovate a row house in Richmond’s Fan District, helping start a revival of this now flourishing neighborhood. He and his wife later moved to Old Church, Virginia, where they designed and built a beautiful, naturalistic home using flooring, timbers and other materials salvaged from Richmond area warehouses over the years. A skilled carpenter, Bill meticulously designed and fabricated much of the trim features throughout the house.

Survivors include his nephews, James S. Kitterman Jr. and wife, Devra, of Baltimore, Maryland, John V. Kitterman and wife, Kathryn, of Ferrum, Virginia and William P. Kitterman and wife, Hulet, of Louisville, Georgia; his cousin, Carol White of Richmond; grand and great-grandnephews and nieces as well as many beloved friends. All were greatly entertained by his storytelling and impressed with his prodigious memory, where even into his nineties he could remember lucidly details from his youth.

There will be a visitation on Monday, February 18, at 4 to 6 p.m. at Nelsen Funeral Home, 4650 South Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, Va. 23221, and a graveside ceremony on Tuesday, February 19, at 11a.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery, 8100 Granby Street, Norfolk, Va. 23505. Memorial gifts may be made to the Eastern Hanover Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 454, Mechanicsville, Va. 23111 or to the charity of your choice.


19 February

Graveside Service

11:00 am

Forest Lawn Cemetery

8100 Granby St.
Norfolk, VA 23505


  • Visitation Monday, February 18, 2019

William Otto Bevilaqua

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Emily Hines

February 17, 2019

Marilyn and Bill are part of some of the BEST memories of my life:-) From my childhood visits to their magical homes with cats and pomegranates and art everywhere, to my adult visits that included so many wonderful stories of their travels and experiences. They were best friends with my mom and dad, and when the four of them were together stories and ideas and art and laughter would just fill the air. I treasure every memory I have of both Bill and Marilyn. I would not be the same person, had I not known them. My heart is so full of love for them and their presence in my life. Thank you Bill! Thank you Marilyn--I can't say one name without the other:-) You made the world a better place!