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Richard William Babson ’43

A picture of Bill Babson

Richard William Babson ’43, March 16, 2013, in Portland. Bill grew up in a home where music was central to family life. His mother was an accomplished pianist and vocalist and directed Bill’s study of violin and piano during his childhood. As an adult, he performed on cello with the Oregon Symphony and founded several chamber music groups. He was a natural athlete and a lefty. He favored racquet sports, excelling in regional competitions in badminton and tennis even into his 80s. Bill also was an artist who worked in watercolor and did sculpture. He possessed great energy and a great sense of humor. During the one year he studied at Reed, he met Jean McCall ’42, sister of former Oregon governor Tom McCall. He then did military service during World War II, first in Nome, Alaska, and then with General Patton’s Third Army in Normandy, at the Battle of the Bulge, and in the occupation of Germany. Bill and Jean were reunited after the war and married in 1947. They raised a son and two daughters. Bill owned and operated Peerless Pacific Company, which offered wholesale heating, refrigeration, industrial, water works, and plumbing supplies. Under his direction, the business expanded into numerous cities in Oregon and Washington. “Bill was creative and original in his views on most subjects,” said his family. “He valued the individual over the group, celebrated rebellious behavior and nonconformity, and carried a lifelong mistrust of ‘groupthink,’ whether he saw it in corporations, labor unions, government, or the military.” Survivors include his son, Stephen, and daughter Ann, and four grandchildren. Jean, who was a committed volunteer for the college, a nationally recognized community activist working on behalf of children, and a member of the Reed board of trustees, died in 1987. Bill was also predeceased by his daughter Jeannie. Remembrances may be directed to the Jean Babson Student Life Discretionary Fund at Reed.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2013

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