In memoriam: Bill Papke

One of our longtime members passed away recently, Bill Papke.

Bill Papke

Bill Papke
Bill Papke

Known as ‘Bill’ or ‘Buddy’ to family and friends, was born in Eureka, CA on May 23, 1933. Bill passed away on December 4, 2013 in his home of 54 years in Carmichael, CA, after battling lymphoma for about 2.5 years.

Bill was a loving brother to sisters Julia Demartini, Barbara Spellenberg, and Norma Dye, and a loving uncle to 15 nieces and nephews residing in Humboldt, Orange, and Yolo counties.

Bill was very active in the Mother Lode Grotto of the National Speleological Society, in the Cordova Camera Club and in his church, St. John the Evangelist Church.

Bill graduated from Eureka High School in 1951, and received his B.A., teaching credential, and M.A. from Humboldt State College. He taught Physics at American River College for 36 years from 1957 to 1993.  He was a long time member of AAPT and served many years as the chapter historian.

Bill enjoyed hiking and camping in the Sierras, photography (including 3-D photography), caving, and generally just enjoyed being alive.  He was popular with his students and remained in touch with a number of them long after they left ARC.  He began teaching at ARC one year before it moved to the current campus.  He liked to tell the story of his hiring process. The ARC president, Bill Priest, interviewed Bill on a Sunday morning in Mr. Priest’s kitchen.  Mr. Priest was wearing a bathrobe–a little less formal than our current procedure!

Bill last presented at our meeting in 2009.

Bill was a regular at NCN AAPT meetings and could always be counted on to bring something new and original to Show and Tell. Although not a showy presenter per se, his enthusiasm and love of physics and physics teaching was unmistakable. He reached out to many young physics teachers at the meetings (including me) and always encouraged their participation. Unlike some college teachers, he was very happy about the increased participation and attendance of high school physics teachers at our AAPT meetings over the course of his career. He considered it one of the healthy signs of our section’s evolution during his long career. Bill treated his fellow teaching staff and AAPT members like family because to him, they were.  He was a very conscientious and dedicated teacher, a wonderful physics colleague, and a fine person. He loved fine dining and was one of the first to uncork a bottle of wine at a Friday Night Social. His zest for life and physics will not be forgotten.


— submitted by Paul Robinson, NCN AAPT Historian

With sincere apologies, we accidentally listed Chuck Hunt as having died; this was inaccurate, he is still alive and kicking.

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