Obituary of William Tesdell

January 8, 2022

William Allen Giles Tesdell
(1989 – 2022)

We are sad to share that William Allen Giles Tesdell (he/they) passed away on January 8th. Will died peacefully at home, surrounded by love, with family and friends by his side. Will was an expert punner, a lover of bike rides, live music, and tiny instruments, and an incredibly kind and affectionate person who loved his family and friends deeply. He was extraordinarily considerate of all he met, from his closest relatives to his attendants in the hospital.

Born and raised in New York City, Will graduated from Brooklyn Friends School and Bard College, where he studied electronic music and met some of his dearest friends. He became a teacher after college and was passionate about equality in education. Powell House, a Quaker retreat center in upstate New York, was a sacred place for him. Will attended youth conferences there beginning in middle school, then served as an adult presence and as a co-facilitator of weekend gatherings for children and youth. He recently organized several sojourns at Powell House for a small circle of friends and family. Will and his darling, Macayla Donegan, were married in June, 2021, shortly after adopting their puppy, Banjo.

Will is survived by his wife Macayla; parents Sherry Giles and Kerwin Tesdell; stepparents Diana Tesdell and Glenn Hudak; siblings Annika, Evan, Nicole and Ben; aunt Kerry Giles Miller (Bill Miller); uncles Rick Giles and Bill Giles; cousins Joshua, Grace, and Sarah; niece Bella, and nephew, Jay; and dog-child Banjo Donegan-Tesdell.

A memorial service celebrating Will's life will be held on Saturday, January 15th at 2 pm at Brooklyn Friends Meeting House, 110 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, New York. Details about the service, including a form where you can RSVP, can be found here: In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the youth program at Powell House ( or to organizations that support the LGBTQ community or racial justice.

Condolences may be sent to Macayla Donegan at, Kerwin and Diana Tesdell at, and Sherry Giles and Glenn Hudak at

Funeral Services

Memorial Service

January 15, 2022

2:00 PM

Brooklyn Friends Meeting House

110 Schermerhorn Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Our hearts go out to the Tesdell family at this very sad time. We have fond memories of the early days at PACC and the fun that our son Christopher and William enjoyed together. His sweet disposition was apparent from the start and his adorable smile and laughter a delight to all those around him. It's no wonder he touched the hearts of all those he encountered. May his smile keep his loved ones uplifted.

Deepest sympathies,
Chris and Liz

Posted by: Chris and Liz Apgar - New York, NY - January 12, 2022

Will was a wonderful teacher for our son; such a kind spirit. We are so sorry for your loss.

The Cooper Family
Manhattan Country School

Posted by: Adrienne Cooper - New York, NY - January 12, 2022

I went to BFS and saw Will around the halls here and there, but I also was an avid fan of The Floor is Lava and saw many of their shows.

It pains me so much to hear of his passing, and I'm so sorry for your loss. I always saw him as a truly kind and full hearted person with an energy that few could match.

The songs I remember the most of theirs are both '27 minutes' and the title song 'The Floor is Lava', but in general theirs was some of the best and original music of the local scene and Will's voice was essential to their energy and sheer awesomeness. It's part of what inspired me to start a band and perform locally as well.

I never got to know him that well, but I was often front and center at Will's shows and those experiences left such a lasting impression on me.

Posted by: Fabian Kaupert - Brooklyn, NY - January 13, 2022

I saw William grow up, having met him when he was about 10 years old. He had a magical relationship with his grandmother, Evelyn, and seeing them interact with one another was a special treat. William had a kind soul, which was shaped by his father, who instilled in him a strong sense of social justice, and a concern for all. He touched many lives in his short time on this planet. May his gentle soul rest at the bosom of our Lord.

Posted by: Teresa Clarke - , - January 12, 2022

Will and I taught Kindergarten together at Friends Seminary from 2016-2018. Will was a hardworking, passionate, dedicated educator who clearly enjoyed helping children to grow and learn, as they were becoming more self-aware and confident in their abilities. He was a true team mate who was always ready and willing to dialogue, offer his opinions, make changes in the moment, while trying a variety of strategies to support his students. I think the thing that I admired most in Will was his sincere delight in and amazement over his students' creativity, their block structures, art creations, stories, and much more. His enthusiasm about teaching and his students' growing abilities was abundantly evident. He was also always ready to bring laughter into our classroom with a lighthearted joke and a broad smile.

Some things that I enjoyed about Will included, his expressive Read-Alouds, his paper-cutting Story sessions, his amazing Applehead doll Puppet Pals dramatizations, his Planet Earth lessons, and his participation during our Spanish lessons. Will's students loved his recess yard Games Meetings, his Great Big Moose song, and their favorite sight word became Will!

On the personal side, Will solved many technology issues and created an awesome sixties playlist on Youtube that we switched on during our Preps. I also appreciated his down-to-earth realism, his compassion, and his ability to focus on the best in each person including me. Will was a bright light who will always be remembered and cherished by me.

Posted by: Judy Anderson - Bloomfield, NJ - January 14, 2022

Dear Sweet Will- the world is darker without your gentle, loving light. This news quite literally breaks my heart. I had the pleasure of working with Will at Friends Seminary for two full years. He was honest, kind, reliable, smart, soulful and caring- I enjoyed every interaction I had with him- and as his boss, he was a diligent, hardworking and devoted teacher who listened thoughtfully and carefully to whomever he was speaking with. My favorite memory of Will, however was not at school, in fact it was on the last day of school, first day of Summer- A group of us went to karaoke and his rendition of Jim Morrison's, Break on Through was truly mind-blowing- I am pretty sure all of us in that space remember the passion and zeal he brought to those two and a half minutes. I will never forget it. I will never forget Will. To all who loved him, my sincere condolences.

~ John Evans

Posted by: John Evans - LOS ANGELES, CA - January 14, 2022

Will, bro. I'm speechless. We have shared countless moments of heightened creativity and pure fun. I have enjoyed laughing with you and learning with you and sharing my crazy wisdoms with you. I believe I was the first teaching artist you were paired with at Whitebird. For some reason, I remember you playing a wonderful hurricane in one of our skits. We also went to a play together one time. You had an extra ticket and shared an immersive theater moment with me. You are a wonderful dude, a special guy, through and through. We haven't worked together for a while, but I know that you are one of the kindest of souls that I have ever known. God bless you. And the funniest thing is our wisdom about the good ole eye, bro! Tell everyone in Heaven I said hello. Geez, dude. This is really surprising to me. Love love love to you. Melanie Maria

Posted by: Melanie Goodreaux - New York, NY - January 11, 2022

My Deepest Condolences to Will's friends and l family. I've known and worked with will for over ten years with White Bird. His lovely spirit was so kind, fun and dedicated. I'll hold his memory close to my heart. May he Rest in Poetry and Peace. Love, Claudia

Posted by: Claudia Acosta - Brooklyn, TX - January 11, 2022

I am so sorry for your family loss. I worked with Will almost 10 years ago at ACT and he was a great coworker. He will be missed dearly by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.

Posted by: Orissa Wooda - Bronx, NY - January 11, 2022

When I think of Will, I remember his gentle and kind nature, his quick wit, and his generous heart. There was no space in his world and character for judgment or ego. He was mature beyond his years. I was lucky to know him.

Posted by: Jennifer Gandasegui - New York, NY - January 11, 2022
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