W. F. "Bill" Wellman
Visionary in Hospitality
Class of 2018
After serving in the Marines during WW II, W. F. "Bill" Wellman (1924-2022) began his career in hospitality by joining the family business, the Corral Bar in Valparaiso. Wellman’s Restaurant was born and soon after, Valparaiso’s Bridge VU Theater, hosting such stars as Dolly Parton, Phyllis Diller, the Oak Ridge Boys, Duke Ellington and many more. Several years later, Bill partnered with Dean White and Whiteco Industries to supervise the design, construction and opening of Merrillville’s Holiday Star Theatre (later renamed the Star Plaza Theatre) in 1979. The theater was instrumental in the growth of the tourism industry.
Wellman has won numerous awards, including the “Man of the Year Award” from the Indiana Restaurant Association, the Citizen Square Award (an award used to boost awareness and motivate good citizenship in downtown Valparaiso), and the prestigious Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award. He was also inducted into the Indiana Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame. Wellman received an Honorary Doctorate from Valparaiso University in 2017. At age 90, he wanted to recognize his peers in America’s Greatest Generation by developing the Time-line Audio Player System of America, aka T.A.P.S. This sound system plays “Taps” at dusk every day at nearly 100 units across the country.