Former Reed College professor and longtime Woodstock resident William (Bill) Marvin Wiest passed away at age 86 on December 19. He was born in Johnstown, Colorado on May 8, 1933, to parents Katherine Buxman Wiest and William Walter Wiest. He was the second of four children.
Both of Bill's parents' families came to the United States as German immigrants from Russia. The Wiest and the Buxman families had been farmers for many generations in the Volga and Black Sea regions of Russia.
When Bill was a year and a half old, his parents moved from Colorado to California's San Joaquin Valley. He began his academic career in a two-room country schoolhouse near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He often rode his horse, Parade, to school.
After grade school he attended Immanuel Academy, a Mennonite-supported high school where he was Senior Class President, Editor of the Annual Yearbook, Captain of the Football team, and Senior Class Valedictorian.
After graduating high school, Bill attended Tabor College, a private Mennonite-funded college in Hillsboro, Kansas. Bill earned part of his college tuition with a summer job driving trucks, transporting the fruit that his father grew on the family farm to the famer's markets in Los Angeles.
Bill met Thelma Bartel in high school in 1950 when Thelma was fourteen, and they dated and wrote letters while he was in college. They were married in Dinuba, California, in 1955, after Bill graduated from Tabor College.
While at Tabor Bill was awarded a scholarship to attend Kansas University at Lawrence, Kansas, where he received his Master's Degree in Psychology in 1957. In August of that year, Bill and Thelma moved to Berkeley, where he began his studies to earn his PhD at the University of California campus there.
In 1961 Bill and Thelma and family moved to Portland, where Bill taught Psychology at Reed College for 34 years. In the early seventies Thelma earned a nursing degree from OHSU, and worked as a nurse for 24 years. Thelma said Bill was always generous and ahead of his time – one such example being that he suggested he should always wash the dishes so she could study and work.
While living in Woodstock, Bill was an avid gardener; and he and Thelma traveled extensively, often to visit family. Bill loved music and loved to sing. He had a fine tenor voice and was a lifelong singer, having performed in the Tabor College Choir; in a quartet with friends; in the Reed College Musicum choir; and with a choir of the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland.
Bill's immediate family and large extended family loved him for "his compassion, intelligence, and humor", and his positive influence on all of them.
In 2015, soon after a Mediterranean cruise celebrating his and Thelma's sixtieth wedding anniversary, and including their three grown children, Bill was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor situated at the base of his tongue. The cancer was treated with radiation, and never came back, but Bill suffered fairly severe side effects from the radiation that lasted for the rest of his life. The couple lived in the Woodstock neighborhood for fifty-five years, until they moved into Courtyard at Mt. Tabor in May of 2018.
All three of his children, one grandchild, and Thelma were with him during his last days and moments. Bill died peacefully at home at Courtyard on December 19th, 2019 – sixty-nine years to the day after his first date with Thelma. Bill is survived by his wife Thelma, his three children, six living grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
On January 4, 2020, a memorial service was held in the Reed College Chapel attended by hundreds – including some of his siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, from Arizona, California, Canada, Maine, and the Netherlands.