William W. Rees '55
Deceased April 17, 2009
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