Bill Fuson

Bill Fuson

William M. Fuson, professor emeritus of sociology, died July 16, 2009, after a short illness.

Bill was born December 21, 1915, in Canton, China, the son of Presbyterian missionaries. At the age of 12, he returned to Emporia, Kansas, where he lived with his aunt.

He graduated from the University of Kansas, and earned his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He married Helen Finley in 1941. He was a conscientious objector in WWII and spent three years in Civilian Public Service. After the war, Bill and Helen moved to Richmond and he taught sociology at Earlham College from 1946 until his retirement in 1979.

Bill was the last of what was often referred to as the “CPS Generation of Faculty,” Quakers who had done alternative service during World War II, and who, in many cases like Bill’s, had become Friends because of that experience. They were central to the Earlham’s Quaker identity well into the 1980s. Bill’s reputation as a sharp-minded analyst led to additional assignments from President Landrum Bolling. In addition to his teaching, Bill served as academic assistant from 1958 to 1965, performing many of the functions of an academic dean. In this role he was responsible for much of the college’s first work in long-range strategic planning. He was also a member of the task force on management that in 1955 proposed Earlham’s current system of faculty governance. After retirement, well into his eighties, he gave hundreds of volunteer hours to the Friends Collection and Archives, organizing manuscript collections and transcribing documents.

Paul Lacey, professor emeritus of English and former colleague, shared that when he came to Earlham in 1960, he already knew Bill Fuson by reputation as one of the most intellectually demanding of faculty members. Students were eager to take his courses, and they even bragged about getting C grades. He was regarded by colleagues as a hard-headed idealist. The idealism was reflected not only in his pacifism but in his work for the Friends Committee on National Legislation and a lifetime of political activism. The hardheadedness was in large part the result of the hard times of the Depression and the Second World War.

Bill was an active member of West Richmond Friends Meeting since 1949. His experience, measured opinions and strong support for the meeting once a decision was reached were of tremendous value to the meeting.

He was very involved with Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Friends Service Committee. He had a lifelong love of travel and photography. He moved to Friends Fellowship Community in 2005.

Bill is survived by four children: Douglas (Madison, Wisconsin), Jeffery ’68 (Farmington, Maine), Frances McQuail ’74 (Ontario, Canada), Michael (Granville, Ohio) and their spouses. Bill had eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His wife Helen died in 1988.

A memorial for Bill Fuson was held in Stout Meetinghouse on July 19, 2009.

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