North Adams,  Pittsfield

William Fox

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — William (Bill) Templeton Fox, 86, passed away peacefully on February 12, 2019 in Williamstown, MA with his family by his side. Born on November 15, 1932 in Chicago, IL, the son of Edward and Mary Fox, Bill graduated from Oak Park High School in 1950, and from Williams College in 1954. He received a master’s degree in 1960 and Ph.D. in 1961, both from Northwestern University. Bill met the woman he loved and would marry, Norma Gertrude Heinzen, when serving in the United States Army, stationed at San Francisco’s Presidio. They were married in Colorado Springs, CO on January 3, 1959. Sixty years, 1 month, and 9 days after marrying her, Bill said his final farewell to his wife Norma, and their three children, Stephen, Katherine, and Amy.
He spent his boyhood summers in a house built by his grandfather on the shores of Lake Michigan where sailing and the lake remained an important part of Bill’s life until his final years.
Bill taught in the Department of Geology and Mineralogy (now known as Geosciences) at Williams College for 35 years serving as department chair from 1982-1988. He was named the Edward Brust Professor of Geology and Mineralogy. Bill thoroughly enjoyed teaching and fostering undergraduate research and engaging students in summer field work. Beginning in the 1960s, Bill pioneered the use of computers in his teaching and research at Williams. Later he created computer simulation models. He received numerous grants and fellowships including several from the National Science Foundation. Bill also conducted several long-term coastal research projects for the Office of Naval Research with his colleague Richard (Skip) Davis. In 1986, Reinhard (Bud) Wobus, a close colleague and friend, and Bill received a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to establish the Keck Geology Consortium dedicated to undergraduate research and education. Bill served as Consortium Coordinator from 1987-1990.
Bill also contributed to the field of geology as an author or co-author of countless articles in professional scientific journals. His area of expertise included oceanography, remote sensing, environmental geology, sedimentation, and computer applications in geology. He wrote At the Sea’s Edge: An Introduction to Coastal Oceanography for the Amateur Naturalist, appealing to a wide audience.
Following his retirement in 1996, Bill stayed active at Williams working on various projects. He continued to use his gift for teaching by leading courses at OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and serving as faculty leader for Williams Alumni trips to Antarctica, the Galapagos, Wales, and the Virgin Islands. Bill and Norma traveled widely to Paris, Hong Kong, China, Costa Rica, Austria, England, Ireland, and Scotland.
An accomplished artist, Bill also loved the outdoors, cross-country skiing, hiking, and playing tennis. His mischievous side was always present and the twinkle in his eye impossible to miss. Known for his humor, positive outlook, and kindness, he was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, and professor. In the last years of his life Bill struggled with Alzheimer’s but maintained his kind, gentle ways until the end. Bill lived his life to the fullest, and those of us who were lucky enough to live it alongside him are forever enriched as a result.
He is survived by his wife Norma, and children Stephen (Libby), of Sandwich, MA, Katherine, of Pittsfield, MA, and Amy Fox McNulty (Dave), of Ann Arbor, MI. He also is survived by his sisters, Judy Creek, of Palo Alto, CA, and Sister Jane Fox, of Farmington Hills, MI, as well as his grandchildren William Fox, of San Bruno, CA, Patrick Fox, of Worcester, MA, Christopher Fox, of Sandwich, MA and Erin and Liam McNulty, of Ann Arbor, MI and many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Mary, and his brother Edward (Ted).
A Mass will be held at Saints Patrick and Raphael Catholic Church, 54 Southworth St., in Williamstown on Saturday, March 2 at 10:00 a.m., followed by a graveside service and a reception at the Williams College Faculty Club. Please consider a memorial contribution to the Supportive Day Program at the Ralph C. Froio Senior Center, 330 North Street, Pittsfield, MA, 01210, or the Alzheimer’s Association of Western Massachusetts, 264 Cottage Street, Springfield, MA, 01104. To add to the Book of Memories, please visit to send Bill’s family a message of sympathy.

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