MISSOULA – William Mackie “Bill” Myers passed away of natural causes at his home in Missoula on Nov. 1, 2012, at the age of 87. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, to William and Marguerite Myers.
Bill went to college at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He obtained his doctorate in mathematics from Ohio State University in 1952. Bill and his wife, Vera, met during their graduate studies in the mathematics program at Ohio State and were married in 1951 in Cincinnati. They decided to move to Missoula in 1952, when Bill accepted a position as an assistant professor in the department of mathematics at the University of Montana. Bill loved to teach mathematics and continued teaching for about 40 years at the university until his retirement.
During his tenure at the University of Montana, Bill served as department head and played a key role in establishing a Ph.D. program in the mathematics department. Reaching beyond the university, Bill also led the effort to create a National Science Foundation grant program that enabled qualified high school mathematics teachers to attend classes at the university to obtain their master’s degrees and improve their teaching skills for their high school students. This NSF grant program continued to benefit high school teachers and their students for more than a decade.
In addition to his love of mathematics, after moving to Missoula, Bill thoroughly enjoyed spending time with his family being active in the outdoors. When they weren’t teaching at the university, Bill and Vera loved to escape for weekends and hike throughout the Rocky Mountains. They especially enjoyed the landscapes of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies. As an experienced outdoorsman, Bill was president of Rocky Mountaineers and served as leader for many wilderness trips with the group.
Early in his life, Bill developed an interest in the history and geography of Europe. In 1973-74, Bill was able to realize a dream by living in Geneva with his family during his sabbatical leave from the university. During this time, Bill climbed throughout the Alps. In addition to his sabbatical year, Bill spent many summers traveling and hiking with his family throughout Europe. He was able to reach the summits of many difficult ascents, including the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. He loved the mountains and was responsible for furthering the climbing careers of his sons, as well as other dedicated alpinists.
In the 1980s, Bill began to explore other parts of the world and spent time traveling throughout Africa, Asia, India, South America, and the South Pacific for three decades. These trips helped fulfill his insatiable passion for understanding world history and experiencing other cultures.
At age 50, Bill took up running and was an active jogger for many years. Bill loved to be in motion, taking stride after stride around parks and roads of Missoula. He trained consistently and successfully completed several 10K races and three marathons in Missoula, Kalispell and Seattle. Later in his life, Bill and his wife Vera became avid cross-country skiers. They spent many days skiing in the wilderness areas near Lolo Pass. The memories of the snowflakes falling, wind rustling in the trees and animals moving quietly through the trees resonate through Bill’s soul. It was a special time in his life that he tremendously enjoyed.
Bill was an inspiration to everyone, especially to his sons. He encouraged them to set high goals and create strategies to attain these aspirations. He was a kind, loving person who had a strong, concerned passion for the environment. Bill taught his sons so very much, and they are immensely thankful for the gifts that he shared.
Bill will be greatly missed by his wife of more than 61 years and their three sons, William, Charles and Robert. Bill is the proud grandfather of five grandchildren, Alexandra, Cole, Ethan, Emily and John. Bill is also survived by his younger brother, Addison Reid Myers.
His family will think of him every day and smile about the treasured memories that he created. The memory of his smile, his concentrated focus and love for life will be missed every day of the lives of the people that he touched.
A memorial service to remember and celebrate Bill- life will be held at a later date.
Donations in memory of Bill can be made to the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, Partners in Home Care Hospice or the UM math department graduate program by contacting Vera.