Tom Octavius Bellwood was born in Heighington, England in 1896, the youngest of ten children. In 1909, he emigrated to Central City, Colorado with his father--a cabinet maker, undertaker, tax collector, and notary public. The rest of the family followed the next year. Bellwood completed high school in 1915 and then worked in a cabinet shop and in an ore-crushing mill. After a year at Barnes Commercial School in Denver, he enrolled at Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley and graduated in 1921 with his Bachelor of Arts degree. He held a position as the assistant pastor of a Presbyterian church, while pursuing his master's degree in education (awarded in 1922).
Bellwood moved to Flagstaff, where he became an instructor in commerce. He and his wife, Grace, became active in the community. Bellwood--a tenor--directed the Federated Church choir and participated on the church board. In his spare time, Bellwood was an avid motorcyclist. He served as a dean of the Arizona State Teachers College under President Grady Gammage and President Thomas J. Tormey. From 1943-1944, Bellwood functioned as acting president. He was appointed president upon Tormey's resignation in 1944. Bellwood established programs for veterans after the war, and enrollment at the college rose. In 1947, the College--renamed Arizona State College in 1945--was authorized to grant bachelor's degrees in subjects other than education. Bellwood resigned the presidency that year for health reasons but resumed his duties as dean. From 1955 until his retirement in 1963, he taught full-time. President Bellwood died in 1971.
Condensed from Platt Cline, Mountain Campus: The Story of Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1983), chapter VII.