George William (Bill) England passed away on February 17, 2017, four months shy of his 90th birthday. Bill was happily married to Bea for 58 years. After her death he was lucky enough to meet Fran, with whom he spent the last eight years in Boise. His academic publications were under the name George W. England, though his friends and loved ones called him Bill. His four children of course called him Dad, or just as often Sam, which Bill always claimed was an acronym derived from Supreme Almighty Master, to which the kids' retort was that it is Samm, with two m's, standing for Slob And Mortar Mixer. As a young man Bill enlisted in the Navy. Very quickly the war ended without his seeing combat, but for years he regaled his grandchildren with stories of how he almost single-handedly won WWII.
Bill grew up in Rapid City, SD, attended the University of Minnesota, where he earned his PhD in Industrial Psychology, and spent his career as a Professor in that field. His major research projects were multi-national studies of the meaning of work to all people's lives. After decades based at the University of Minnesota, with their kids then adults, in 1980 Bill and Bea made a decision to move to the University of Oklahoma. They worried about leaving their long-time friends in the Twin Cities, but they ended up making many friends in Norman. In particular they enjoyed being part of a social group dubbed The Flamingos, with whom they enjoyed many trips, both within and outside the country, along with regular birthday parties at home for each member.
Travel was a big part of Bill's life and work, with a number of stints as a visiting Professor, including memorable years with the entire family spent at Stanford and at the University of Hawaii's East-West Center, and with the two youngest children still in tow, an eye opening few month stay in India. After the kids were all out of the house, in order to collaborate with his colleagues abroad, Bill and Bea spent months living in Germany, Japan and Australia. Vacation travel included a trip through Alaska and a photo safari in South Africa, the two places he had dreamed about visiting while a boy growing up in the Midwest.
The grandchildren often called him Gpa, and a stay with Grandma & Gpa was always highly anticipated, not just because of the back yard pool, but the general spoiling that went on, and of course always a visit or two to The Perfect Swing Family Fun Center. It had a huge parking lot, where Gpa would let kids sit on his lap and steer the car, which was often even more fun than the games inside. Over the years, every grandchild spent many weeks at the house in Norman, including numerous stays without their parents, and those are among their fondest memories.
After Bea's death he moved to Boise, where he was welcomed into a group called the Happy Hoofers, who walked together regularly, followed by "chew and chat." It was here that he met Fran, and they were together until he needed the help of Plantation Assisted Living, where Fran's frequent visits lit up his life.
Bill was preceded in death by his two brothers, and will be missed by his family and friends. A Celebration of Life for Bill will take place at Plantation at 2pm on Wednesday March 15. The immediate family plans to gather again around his birthday to celebrate his life and share memories.
Published on February 24, 2017