Bill died peacefully Jan. 15, 2022, at Warwick Forest Retirement Community in Newport News, Va., after being in declining health for several years.

At Princeton, Bill earned a degree in aeronautical engineering, was a member of Key & Seal Club and Whig-Clio, and rowed on 150-pound crew. Bill served in the Navy’s V-5 and V-12 programs from 1944 to 1946 and was commissioned in 1948, reserve duty only. He also earned two master’s degrees (from Virginia and William & Mary), as well as a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton in 1967.

After Princeton Bill embarked on a distinguished career with NACA (later NASA) and the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council. According to our 50th-reunion yearbook, his early work involved “helping to make airplanes faster and safer” while later he was “science team leader and principal investigator on the Viking missions that put two unmanned spacecraft on the surface of Mars.” Along the way he served as division chief of NASA’s Environmental and Space Sciences Division and played a key role in the Lunar Obiter Project, which mapped sites on the moon for future Apollo missions.

Bill’s wife of 68 years, Marjorie Boswick Michael, predeceased him in 2021. He is survived by two daughters, Caroline M. Rawls and Cynthia M. Andrews; and five grandchildren.

The Class of  ’48 fondly remembers our distinguished classmate who is said to have lived “an exceptionally long, happy, and productive life.” 

Undergraduate Class of 1948
Graduate Class of 1967