Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

William Ure ’57

February 1, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California, from metastases of skin cancer.

Bill’s childhood in Michigan was filled with naturalist pursuits, including pets, the outdoors, and riding his bike around Minneapolis. His family moved to Forest Grove, Oregon, in 1947, where he graduated from high school. At Reed, he wrote his thesis, “An Attempt to Produce Sensory Preconditioning in Rats,” advised by Prof. Raymond Boyle [psychology 1956–61].

“Reed saved me from small Oregon farm-school mediocrity,” Bill said. “It gave me the impetus for independent learning and was the most important experience in my life.”

He went on to earn his MD at Baylor College of Medicine, where he met his future wife, LaVelle Richburg, then secretary to the mayor of Houston. After marrying, they moved for Bill’s University of Chicago residency in internal medicine and grew their family with the births of Elizabeth and Patricia.

Faced with whether to volunteer for the army with his service deferred until he had completed his residency or risk being drafted and sent to Vietnam as an emergency medic, Bill opted to volunteer. It proved to be the right decision. During his residency, he did research on the spread of contagious diseases in prisons. Because of that, he was sent to Fort Ord, where there was a potential meningitis outbreak.

Bill and LaVelle moved to the Santa Barbara area, where he established a small private practice as an internist. He cared deeply for his patients, treating them regardless of their insurance status, and enjoyed the challenges of geriatric care.

Bill loved working with wood and converted a bedroom into a woodworking shop. Adhering to the belief that “everything is better if you do it yourself,” he built cabinets for the kitchen, bookcases for the hall, and two homemade kayaks. He plumbed his entire house for solar panels, which he installed himself, and designed and poured cement for a reflecting pond. After apprenticing himself to a local instrument maker, Bill researched early instruments and built violins, violas da gamba, lutes, and trombas marina. He was active in the early music community, taught himself to play all five registers of gambas and recorders, organized annual Christmas concerts, and hosted a madrigal group in his house every Sunday for nearly 30 years.

A lifelong ornithologist, Bill was a member of the Audubon Society and an avid birder, memorizing bird calls from tapes, helping rehabilitate seabirds coated with oil during a spill, and participating in the annual national Christmas count. He created a pond in his front yard for a pair of mallard ducks, and a collection of bantam chickens freely roamed his property.

He believed in the importance of philanthropy and devoted many hours to Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic, Doctors without Borders, and the Viola da Gamba Society. His house was open for musicians needing a place to stay; he hosted international exchange students, and he often chauffeured people with mobility issues to doctor appointments and around town.

After LaVelle died from lymphoma in 2004, Bill met Julie Antelman ’56 through Sally Rochlin Osman ’56, who was married to his old Reed roommate, James Osman ’57. Though they had never met before, Julie and Bill had a lot in common: Both were graduates of Reed (where her roommate had married his roommate); both had lived in Hyde Park and had professional ties to the University of Chicago; and both had been raised in Minneapolis, growing up on opposite ends of Thomas Avenue. Sally thought her two friends would hit it off, and, on a road trip to California with Julie, introduced the couple. Bill had begun to recover from the loss of LaVelle; Julie’s husband had died 11 years before. The three dined in Santa Barbara and the next morning Julie woke up early. Sally was still sleeping, so Julie gave Bill a call. They had breakfast at the beach and walked along the shore, and he gave her a gamba lesson. After she returned home to Chicago, they began emailing each other. She came to L.A. so they could attend operas together.

“It’s great to let Reed do the choosing for you,” Bill said, “separating the wheat from the chaff.” Eventually Julie moved to California, and they were together until 2020, when Bill’s short-term memory failed and he moved into a dementia ward, where he resided until his death. He is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth Saul and Patricia McGuire ’85, and by Julie, his devoted life partner for the past 18 years.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2022

comments powered by Disqus