Fixture of Calgary's community theatre scene dies while snorkelling in Hawaii

A Calgary man who dedicated himself to Calgary's community theatre community, is dead after being pulled from the waters of Honolua Bay on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Wednesday.

Bill Torrie is being remembered as a kind and generous man always willing to offer help

Bill Torrie, identified by friends as the man who died while snorkeling in Hawaii on Wednesday, was deeply involved in the city's community theatre scene. (Facebook)

A Calgary man who dedicated himself to Calgary's community theatre scene is dead after being pulled from the waters of Honolua Bay on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Wednesday. 

The 58-year-old man, identified by friends as Bill Torrie, was snorkelling with his family when he was found unresponsive and brought to shore on a rocky area of the bay, according to a news release from the County of Maui Fire Department. 

Someone on a nearby sailboat jumped in a dinghy and brought Torrie to the nearby beach, where bystanders performed CPR until emergency crews arrived. 

"Despite all life-saving efforts, the victim could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at the scene," reads the release. 

'He just opened a door'

Torrie was deeply involved in Calgary's community theatre scene and tributes were pouring in on social media on Sunday as the news spread. 

Alice Nelson is an actor and playwright from Calgary who first met Torrie when he cast her in a performance with Storybook Theatre 15 years ago. Nelson said she was ready to give up on her dreams of a life in the theatre before she got the role. 

"He didn't know me from a hole in the ground and he took a chance putting me in this show and it was great," she said from Edmonton, where she's performing at the Fringe Festival. 

"And the other thing it spawned was my love of theatre for young audiences. Since then, I've worked with children in theatre for years and it was because I was in a show with these kids.

"Had I not known Bill, had he not taken that chance, I wouldn't have had those experiences and he just opened a door."


China Marsh served along with Torrie on the board of directors for the Liffey Players Drama Society, which put on shows in places like Chicago, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

"He directed for Liffey, he did design work for lighting and sets, he was a producer as well," she said. "He was a Jack-of-all-trades for Liffey as well as a number of other companies over the last few decades."

Marsh said the outpouring of support on social media shows how instrumental Torrie was to many who worked in the arts in Calgary.

"Everyone is heartbroken but there also is an outpouring of love and remembrance and people whose life and work were so positively impacted by Bill's friendship and support and encouragement," she said.

'So generous, so kind'

Nelson said Torrie was always generous with his time and was dedicated to community theatre. He still came to her performances and was always willing to help out. 

"It was so comforting to be around him because he was so generous, so kind, so welcoming and yeah, I'm really grateful to the guy."

His memory will stay with her. 

"Whenever I perform a show I usually think of someone I love, so I'll be thinking of Bill," she said.