Lance Thomas Bleakney, senior theatre major from League City, died Thursday at the age of 21.
Bleakney was involved in acting during his time as a B.F.A. Acting Track student and held roles in many shows and musical productions, including Cats, Hands on a Hard Body, James and the Giant Peach, Man of La Mancha, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and Merry Wives of Windsor and most recently Wonderful Town.
He was an active part of the Department of Theatre’s mentoring program and a member of Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society. He also wrote and directed his own film for FilmFest 2018, entitled Be Mine. He walked at graduation this May, but was completing nine hours.
Bleakney was born June 23, 1997, in Spring Ranch. He graduated from Clear Springs High School in League City.
L.J. Brodie, junior musical theatre and dance major from Mesquite and close friend to Lance, said he remembers Lance’s originality with admiration.
“He brought life into any room he entered and made us all feel OK to be ourselves – our full, unapologetic, genuine selves,” Brodie said. “He was the guy that was always like, ‘Go! Now! You only live once, so you might as well make the best of it!'”
Brodie recalled Bleakney’s bohemian fashion sense – including occasional rainbow hair and rope sandals, the kilt he wore to FilmFest ’18, his iconic beanie and yoga pants. He once showed up to Moody Chapel wearing a carrot costume.
“Lance also had a heart that reflected Christ’s love,” Brodie said. “He always checked on you, randomly surprised you with misadventures, his keen sense to tell when something was wrong and he talked it out with you. He loved Shakespeare, WWE, randomness, magic and people. He really was a living example of how even though you can be struggling, to always show God’s love.”
Sierra Cowell, musical theatre graduate from Los Angeles, and close friend to Lance, said she will remember the spontaneous adventures they shared together.
“One time Lance and I decided to buy a raft to float in a lake by my house,” she said. “Unfortunately, we could only afford an inflatable bed. We used bamboo sticks as oars and quickly sunk. It was a goofy and impractical adventure, but one of my favorite memories with him.”
Dawne Swearingen-Meeks, chair of the Department of Theatre, spent time watching Lance pursue his passion in the art of theatre and said he could “transform a room in the best ways.”
“He felt and loved people deeply, and he saw the very best in humanity,” Swearingen said.
She recalls he once incorporated a card trick into one of his performances for an acting class she was teaching.
“He loved magic,” she said. “He was unique, artistic and bright. He had a resonant booming voice, grandiose ideas and a brilliant presence. He was the kind of student that made an appearance in your office to share an encouraging word or give you a hug if he thought you needed it. He will be stamped on our hearts and will never be forgotten.”
He is survived by his father, Chris Bleakney; mother, Ashley Hanson; brother, Cade Bleakney; grandparents, Terry Howard, Kirk Ellis, and Tommy Bleakney; and great-grandparent Wayndolin Fletcher, according to Hayes Funeral Home.
A visitation will take place at 4 p.m. Friday at the Hayes Funeral Home Chapel at 10412 Highway 6 in Hitchcock. A funeral service will follow from 5-7 p.m. at the same location.
Bleakney’s father said he wanted to express sincere gratitude to the ACU community for all of the love that it has shown to Bleakney and their family during this time and they welcome everyone to the memorial service.