Toonz Animation Studios’ founding member Bill Dennis passes away; CEO P. Jayakumar pays tribute

Bill Dennis, who along with G A Menon formed Toonz Animation Studios in 1999 left for his heavenly abode on 22 January. The current Toonz Media Group CEO P. Jayakumar shared a heartfelt post remembering their leader and vowing to honour his legacy throughout.

“I am sad to announce the demise of Mr. Bill Dennis, who along with Mr. G A Menon formed Toonz Animation Studios in 1999. He was the first CEO of Toonz and his vision and passion has given identity to Trivandrum as one of the important animation centers in India. The seeds sown by him have sprouted and grown into a global kids and entertainment major,” Jayakumar mentioned.

He further stated: ‘his passing, the global animation community has sadly lost an important member and his absence will leave a gap in the community and for all of us at Toonz.’

“We will continue to honour his legacy and live by the values he taught us. All of us Toonz will sorely miss him and pray for his soul to rest in peace,” Jayakumar added.

Dennis who spent almost 20 years in Walt Disney Studios, passed away while asleep at home in Washington, Utah. His family was present there. As per a report by Chronicle-Tribune, he is survived by his wife Rhonda and three children- Tiersa (Perry Vayo) Dennis, William ‘Paul’ (Amy Carney) Dennis Jr. and Mireille Dennis Evans. Also, Bill has three grandchildren- Noah Dennis, Alex Evans and Grayce Dennis. He is also survived by his sister Jackie Hetler of Warren, Indiana.

Dennis, a travel lover, founded Toonz in Kerala and made it a hub for animation. During that time he also began his long tenure as ASIFA (Association of International Film Animators) executive director and founded the ASIFA India chapter.  Later in his career, Dennis was a founding partner of Zanymation Associates, a boutique animation studio with offices in the U.S. and Germany. Before retiring, he was also a founding partner of L.A.’s International Animation Consulting Group.

“Bill Dennis played a key role in strengthening Animation Industry in India and introducing UNESCO supported Global Non-Government Organization- Asifa to Indians for community building. As Asifa India President & President Emeritus, he focused on developing and shaping the community in India and travelled all across country to commence new sub-chapters. He was also passionate about the animation education in India. My thoughts are with his family. Passing of William ‘Bill’ Dennis is end of an era and animation community has sadly lost a key Asifa fan, Mentor and a gem of a person. We will continue to honour his legacy and live by the values he taught us. I personally got his guidance regularly and he launched Indore Sub Chapter during 2010. All of us at Asifa India will sourly miss him and pray almighty that his soul rests in peace,” said Horizon Institute of Design, Indore founder and Asifa India president Sanjay Khimesara.

“Bill founded Asifa India and he will be sorely missed ..he was a good friend, mentor and a great human being. I had travelled with him extensively and have done IAD’s all across India including Mumbai, Indore, Hyderabad etc,” said Dneg India studio head and Asifa India president emeritus Sesha Prasad A.R..

“I feel thankful to have met a wonderful professional – Bill Dennis. He cared about building an animation community in India. I was very fortunate to have volunteered with him. Thanks to him, I was appointed the President of Asifa India Chapter in 2006.He was simple and kind. He was persistent in building the community, he would always ask me for updates. I am going to miss his presence , his phone calls, emails and skype meetings. We honor you in our hearts and minds. Thank you so much for walking with us on our journey. Thank you for being our mentor. Lots of Love from me and the entire Animation VFX community in India,” said Dancing Atoms Studios and Asifa India president emeritus Saraswathi “Vani” Balgam.

Speaking to Animation Xpress during the foundational years of Toonz Dennis had shared, “The new studio will have a three pronged strategy including outsourced animation work for high visibility US Studios, Repurposing and Licensing of animated properties and development of original content here in India.”

Addressing talent crunch, back then only he had expressed that they will open their own animation school too if that is what it takes. Another option for him was to tie up with an existing institute franchise and inculcate their quality levels and curriculum.

Toonz Media Group employees paid floral tributes and observed two minutes of silence to mourn the sad demise of Dennis. All of them prayed for the departed soul to rest in peace.

AnimationXpress Team

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