Deceased January 26, 2018
Bill Wooten died of liver cancer Jan. 26, 2018, at Gilchrist Hospice, near his home in Baltimore. Born in Philadelphia, Bill came to Amherst from Lynchburg, Va. At Amherst he majored in black studies and graduated magna cum laude. He was crackerjack smart, and he possessed an incredible wit. His marvelous storytelling was the envy and the delight of all who knew and loved him. At Amherst he also met and married the love of his life, JoAnne Lyons (Smith ’74). Together they shared 43 wonderful years together.
Bill had a distinguished career as a human resources executive and management consultant in the retail, banking, telecommunications and nonprofit industries, having held senior posts with the Hecht Co., National Bank of Washington and MCI, among others.
Bill’s memorial service captured the spirit of our friend. There were jazz renditions and references to his love of African art and literature. Gurujodha Khalsa ’74 (the former Reese Couch) delivered a touching, funny, ecumenical eulogy that wove together the many strands of Bill and his love of life and family and friends and community. In addition to Gurujodha, Amherst friends at the service included Wil Grandy ’71, Napoleon Jasper ’72; George Johnson, Steve Keith and Bob Wilson, all class of 1973; Richard Ammons, Norman Coates, Charles Donaldson, Al Ryans and Terry Medley, all class of 1974; and Ron Bailey and Atif Harden, both class of 1975, along with a host of our sisters from Smith and Mt. Holyoke.
Bill’s death leaves a special void, especially among the Washington, D.C., area alumni. He was at the center of a special lunch group there, and Washington will never be the same without him.
In addition to JoAnne, Bill is survived by his daughter, Ayanna, and two grandchildren.
George Johnson ’73