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>  News Releases >   2004 >   November

William P. Davis, Jr., 1927-2004

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 11/30/04 • Contact Roland Adams (603) 646-3661

William P. Davis, Jr., Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Dartmouth College and a former Treasurer of Dartmouth, died at age 80 on Nov. 27, 2004, in Exeter, N.H., following a long illness.

William P. Davis, Jr.
William P. Davis, Jr.

Professor Davis spent 30 years at Dartmouth.  He joined the physics faculty in 1955 from the University of Michigan, where he had been an instructor, and spent most of his time teaching and conducting research in the field of cosmic rays until 1967, when he was named to the then newly-established position of Assistant Provost. He remained in that liaison role between faculty and administration for three years, including a year in which he also served as acting dean of Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. In late 1970, President John Kemeny appointed him to another newly created position, Budget Officer; and in 1974 promoted him to Treasurer. In the latter two positions he devoted his efforts to academic budgeting work - ranging from forecasting and planning to recording and control - until his retirement in 1985.

While at Dartmouth he also established a high school lecture circuit in New Hampshire and Vermont in order to help enrich high school science and physics programs. He also served on a Blue Ribbon Committee for the Norwich (Vt.) and Hanover school systems and was a track official for Dartmouth's track and field events.

Professor Davis was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Aug. 27, 1924, the son of the late William P. and Vesper (Wood) Davis. Prior to moving to Exeter ten years ago, he resided in Hanover and in Norwich, Vt. Thoughout his life he spent summers in his family's cottage at the Congregational Summer Assembly in Pilgrim, Mich.

He was a graduate of Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio where five generations of his family were educated. He went on to receive master's and Ph.D. degrees in physics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

During World War II, he graduated first in his class at Midshipman's School at Cornell University and served as a Lieutenant j.g. in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor and was one of the last crew members to serve on the USS Manta, overseeing her decommissioning in 1946.

He was a member of the Exeter Congregational Church and a former member of the Congregational Church in Norwich, Vt., where he taught Sunday School, was a former Deacon, and served on several business and search committees.

Family members include his wife of 57 years, Barbara (Day) Davis of Exeter, two sons, Christopher L. Davis of Bourne, Mass. and Timothy L. Davis of Wilmette, Ill.; three daughters, Glynis D. Lanzetta of Newtown, Conn., Jennifer D. Thomson of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Bethany D. Hayes of Hartford, Vt.; nine grandchildren; a brother, Edward H. Davis of Redmond, Wash.; a niece and two nephews.

Services will be held at the Riverwoods community in Exeter, N.H. on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited. The family requests that flowers please be omitted. If desired, memorials may be made to the Norwich Congregational Church, P.O. Box 236, Norwich, Vt. 05055, the Congregational Summer Assembly Pilgrim Fund, 2128 Pilgrim Highway, Frankfort, Mich. 49635-9501, or to the charity of one's choice.

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