Deceased January 9, 2020
For over 31 years, Bill served Carleton College as a professor, retiring in 1993 as Laird Bell Professor of History, specializing in Russia.
At his death at 91 in January of this year, he was called by a colleague “one of the all-time ‘greats’ on the faculty” and by another, “the soul of Carleton College.”
One former student said he “mourned for Bill but also for all the future students deprived of his instruction.” Bill was known for his gripping lectures on Nazi Germany and Russia. He and his wife, Molly, regularly opened their home to the Carleton community. A very talented, caring guy.
Bill came to Amherst from Brooklyn Technical High in New York City. He was president of Theta Delta Chi, played football and lettered as the starting catcher on the baseball squad. He was also elected to Sphinx.
Bill graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a newfound interest in history. He went on to receive an M.A. in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1961 in history, both from Harvard. He served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954, training troops bound for Korea. He returned to the town of Amherst as an instructor in history at the University of Massachusetts before moving on to Carleton.
In retirement, Bill helped found and organize the Cannon Valley Elder Collegium in the Northfield, Minn., area. A very popular lecturer, he concentrated on delving into Russian novels as he grew older.
Bill’s wife, Molly, a Smith graduate, died in 2016. He is survived by daughter Helen; daughter Sue and her partner, Elizabeth Burke; son Peter; son Alex and his fiancé, Linda Larson; and many nieces and nephews.
John Priesing ’50