Amherst Magazine

William W. Rees '55

William W. Rees '55

Bill Rees, 75, of Rochester, N.Y., known by his classmates for his sociability, keen intelligence and love of the game of golf, died on April 17 following a brief, yet courageous, battle with cancer.

Death was somewhat unexpected. He had undergone a routine physical examination in early March, and the resulting tests showed he had inoperable and terminal cancer. The tumor had started in his right lung and then had spread to his liver. Bill was given three to six months to live, but death came much more quickly. He died six weeks later.

A chemistry major who subsequently earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at MIT, Bill then began what was to become a spectacular 33 year career with Eastman Kodak, retiring as director of administration of Kodak Research Laboratories in 1991. He was the father of an extended family of six children and 16 grandchildren. Three of his children are from his late first wife, Sally, whom he dated at Amherst, and three are stepchildren from his subsequent marriage to Carol. He was also a leader in Rochester community affairs, most particularly in regard to sports opportunities, education and the United Way.

A well-attended memorial service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, N.Y., celebrated his life on April 25. Representing his many friends at Amherst were three of his Theta Delt fraternity brothers, Jan Farr, George Stephenson and me. Speaking on behalf of his college friends during the service, I described Bill as a “Renaissance Man,” a title that reflected his wit, keen intelligence and joy in all of his undertakings including college, career, family and community involvement.

“He had many talents, but in essence he was a warm, generous and outgoing guy whose presence constantly refreshed all of us,” I said.                    

—Kiko Cuyler ’55

Comments

While awaiting dinner at a local restaurant with George & Dot Stevenson and Bill & Carol Rees, Bill turned to me and, out of the blue, asked if I received " residual commissions " from the sale of my insurance business?  That is a somewhat complex subject in a buy & sell agreement.  While thinking of an answer for Bill, I couldn't help but ask myself, "how did Bill know about insurance commissions?"  I immediately thought it could have been from one of his boys? I choose not to receive residual commissions and told Bill so.

The right occasion to bring the subject up again never arose, but it is one I often think about when I think of Bill, which is a lot lately.
 
Robin Turner '55

Whenever I called Bill looking for an update on his activities for the Class Notes, I always found him to be most generous and gracious with his time.  That was Bill - he never attempted to hurry through life.  Remembering that Bill was on the College's golf team, our conversations often turned to golf.  It wasn't until our 50th Reunion book came out that I learned Bill had won his club championship a mere seven times!  Bill would not boast about his successes on the golf course.  He exemplified the phrase "actions speak louder than words".  Always thinking of others, Bill said a few years ago that when his grandchildren came for a visit, he was in charge of entertainment.  Bill wanted to make sure each grandchild had a memorable time.

Rob Sowersby '55

 

Classmates: 
   To add just a footnote to Kiko's remarks at Bill's Memorial Service but which affirm the true measure of the man.  Bill and I graduated from high school together in 1951. Bill was Valedictorian of the Class of 1951 at the Albany Academy, a military preparatory school in Albany, New York where Bill grew up. In addition to scholarly achievement, Bill starred on the Varsity Soccer, Basketball and Baseball teams at the Albany Academy and was a leader in the military cadet corps. Somewhere along the way Bill also learned to play a serious game of golf. Best to all. 


Dave Ormsby '55

WILLIAM W. REES ‘55

 

Bill, 75, of Rochester, NY, known by his classmates for his sociability, keen intelligence, and love of the game of golf, died on April 17 following a brief, yet courageous battle with cancer.

            Death was somewhat unexpected. He had undergone a routine physical examination in early March and the resulting tests showed he had inoperable and terminal cancer. The tumor had started in his right lung, and then had spread to his liver. Bill was given three to six months to live but death came much more quickly. He died six weeks later.

            A chemistry major who subsequently earned a PhD in organic chemistry at MIT, Bill then began what was to become a spectacular thirty-three year career with Eastman Kodak, retiring as Director of Administration of Kodak Research Laboratories in 1991. He was the father of an extended family of six children and 16 grandchildren. Three of his children are from his late first wife, Sally, whom he dated at Amherst, and three are stepchildren from his subsequent marriage to Carol. He was also a leader in Rochester community affairs, most particularly in regard to sports opportunities, education and the United Way.

            A well-attended memorial service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, NY celebrated his life on April 25. Representing his many friends at Amherst were three of his Theta Delt fraternity brothers, Jan Farr, George Stephenson and me. Speaking on behalf of his college friends during the service, I described Bill as a “Renaissance Man,” a title that reflected his wit, keen intelligence and joy in all of his undertakings including college, career, family and community involvement.

            “He had many talents but in essence he was a warm, generous and outgoing guy whose presence constantly refreshed all of us,” I said.                                                      

                                                                        Kiko Cuyler ‘55

 

 

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