On Sept. 14, the Richmond community lost someone many described as a pillar of the university to an aggressive brain tumor.
Dr. William “Bill” Myers, known fondly around campus as being more than just a chemistry professor, was seen as a valued friend and mentor not only to his students but also to his colleagues for 43 years.
Mike Leopold, a fellow chemistry professor, described the ambience of Myers’ classroom as being “one of connections — the material connecting to other material, the students connecting to material and [Myers] connecting it all together.” He taught like an artist, Leopold said.
Many professors made a point to sit in on Myers’ classes because of his special ability to make his students fall in love with the subject. He was born to teach, Leopold said.
April Hill, a biology professor, felt his strong impact on her life as well.
“He was an honest, thoughtful person who was willing to consider lots of different views and I always respected that about him,” Hill said.
Hill not only recognized Myers’ passion for life but she saw a passion for people. While teaching, he would bring various students into her office and tell her, “You need good students, and this student needs a good mentor. You can thank me later.” And she always did, she said.
One of Myers’ colleagues in the chemistry department, Wade Downey, said Myers had been an inspiring teacher and an interesting man. Myers had an amazing memory, incredible ability to stay current and up-to-date and a keen ear for music, as well as a unique sense of humor that perhaps he was the only one smart enough to understand, Downey said.
“[Myers] was beloved, and he had an impact on people in so many ways," Malcolm Hill, the chair of the biology department, said in an email. "His advice was always useful. He is missed in many ways. We lost a fierce champion for UR and UR's students.”
Myers' wife, Barbara Myers, chose not to be interviewed because she was not ready to share her very personal memories, she said.
Many of his former students now also find themselves reminiscing about Myers.
Caitlin Livesey, a sophomore, took Myers’ chemistry class during her freshman year. She said that Myers’ personality had shown through in every lesson he taught. Because of him, Livesey decided to continue taking chemistry classes, she said.
Maria Shaia, another sophomore and a previous student of Myers, said that the professor had cared deeply for his students inside and outside of the classroom.
“He really got to know his students, and we got to know him,” Shaia said. “He was a well-respected and well-loved man.”
Myers was so generous that he had even invited his students to spend Thanksgiving with him last year, Shaia said.
Anh Bui, a senior and one of Myers’ former students, spoke at her professor’s remembrance service.
“It’s funny how we always take things for granted until they are taken away from us,” Bui said. “We always think about spending time with someone ‘tomorrow,’ always postpone calling someone, and then one day we realize that tomorrow never comes. The worst thing is you’ll never know when the goodbye time is. It kind of just hits you hard randomly, leaving you lots of regrets, for the undone and unsaid.”
A memorial service for Myers was held on Sept. 25 and in addition, the university has established the William H. Myers Memorial Fund for those who wish to donate in memory of Myers.
Contact reporter Kakie Pate at firstname.lastname@example.org