William August Wilson, Jr., 92

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 7:00am

William August Wilson, Jr. died peacefully at home on Friday, May 26, surrounded by his family. The cause was congestive heart failure. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri. on July 3, 1924, to Hallie Burles Wilson and William August Wilson, Sr. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Martha; his children, Catherine, Caroline, William A., III and Harry H. Wilson; 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His brother, Halleck B. Wilson, also survives him.

Bill attended public schools in St. Louis and, later, when his family moved to California, a non-segregated high school in Berkeley. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, at the age of 19 and enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. After training as a replacement specialist, he was sent overseas and landed on Utah Beach on June 10, 1944. He served in France and Germany until the war ended. He continued his education after returning home, receiving an M.D. from Yale Medical School in 1953 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1956.

A long and successful academic career in neuroscience included positions at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Bryn Mawr College; and the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Valued for his interpersonal skills, he was called upon to serve in a number of administrative posts while also engaged in research, teaching, and professional service. He was an editor of the major journal in his field, the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, and was a member of a National Institutes of Heath grant-review study section.

Some years after retiring, he and Martha moved year-round to the house on Block Island they had bought in 1978. Bill was elected to the board of the Block Island Health Services. He served two terms as President of the Block Island Residents Association and was secretary of the Democratic Town Committee. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Island Free Library and its Building Committee. He was a strong advocate of eliminating the deer herd in the interest of getting rid of tick-borne diseases, serving on the Deer Task Force as well as two earlier committees concerned with the deer problem. He was a force behind several initiatives: the Port Authority Committee; the Senior Advisory Committee, of which he was the first chairperson; and the 350 Committee. He also was a member of the Charter Review Committee. He versed himself in tax and insurance matters and provided advice to people on island who needed such help. He faithfully participated in the weekly vigils sponsored by Block Islanders for Peace and Justice, continuing the peace activities that he had engaged in during the Vietnam War.

Bill will be remembered in his professional life for his intellect and his integrity. He was known for his wit and his exemplary willingness to help others, and he was much admired and much loved by his family and his friends.

All who wish to attend are invited to a gathering to remember Bill from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 4, at Kimberly's. Around 5 p.m., there will be an opportunity for brief remarks.