William K. Healy, 86

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 7:30am

William Kent “Bill” Healy died on May 31, 2017, in Essex, Connecticut.

Born and raised in New Haven, Conn., he was the son of Ruth Allen Healy and Kent Tenney Healy. Bill lived in Connecticut for most of his life, as well as on Block Island, Rhode Island. He was educated at the Foote School, the Loomis School and Cheshire Academy, before earning his BA from Yale in 1952; and served in the U.S. Army in Korea during the Korean War. In 1960, Bill married Judith Cooper, and in their nearly six decades of marriage they raised four children.

Bill worked in the aircraft industry for 20 years, first at Sikorsky Aircraft, and then Simmonds Precision. He went on to head Parametrics, an industrial electronics systems manufacturer, for which he served as president. Under Bill’s guiding hand, the company grew quickly and played a key role in early energy-efficient motor speed control development. 

After retiring from Parametrics, Bill’s interest in maritime history drew him to the Mystic Seaport, where from 1987 until 2016 he volunteered at the Seaport’s G.W. Blunt White Library. Bill took deep pleasure from his work, using his well-known organizational skills on projects ranging from computerization of the library’s collection to the annual book sale. He joined the Fellows of Blunt White Library in 1988, and served terms as president and vice-president. In 2007 Mystic Seaport gave him the William C. Noyes Volunteer of the Year award, noting, “He is considered a mover and shaker at the museum,” and that, “Volunteers are eager to work with and learn from him. He is a jewel to the Seaport.”

In the late 1960s, former Sunset Hill resident Ann Cunningham introduced Bill and Judy to Block Island. They went on to acquire the Tormut Rose Farm property off Dorry’s Cove Road in 1969 in conjunction with Bill and Bobbie Cooper. The two couples and their families spent much of the next 40-plus summers at the house overlooking Block Island Sound, a tradition that continues. Bill was seldom found at the beach; rather, he spent most of his days maintaining the 160-year-old house with the help of his meticulously organized workshop, and his less meticulously organized family. He could also be found sailing with Les Sirkin on Les’s cat boat.

In 2000, Bill began a five-year term chairing the Block Island committee responsible for a major U.S. EPA wastewater management project. Under his leadership, the project became a national model as it implemented measures that to this day protect both the island’s sole source of drinking water as well as the surrounding coastal waters. Bill was extremely proud of the program’s success, saying in a 2006 Block Island Times interview that, “Everybody recognized what a disaster could occur” if the island’s sole aquifer were to become polluted. 

His wife Judy survives him with their four children: Martha Hamblett (Topher Hamblett); Sam Healy (Jennifer Petro); Benjamin Healy (Barbara Oksanen), and Rachel Healy (Peter Voskamp); eight grandchildren: Sophie and Alice Hamblett, Justin, Jane and Miranda Healy, Annie Voskamp, and Teku and Amra Healy. He is also survived by his siblings: Ruth Healy, Kent Healy, and Sylvia Lipnick. 

Unfailingly kind and respectful, “Willy,” as he was known to family and friends, was a consummate gentleman whose most extreme exclamation was the occasional “jeepers!” Together with Judy, he traveled the world, enjoyed the company of their many friends and held daily debates over the news of the day. He was immensely proud of his family, as they were of him, and he will forever serve as an example par excellence of a life well lived. He will be missed beyond all measure.

A memorial gathering will be held on Friday, June 30, at the Lace Factory, 161 River St., Deep River, Conn., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A separate event will be held on Block Island on a later date.

In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family asks for everyone to pass on goodwill to others.