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Murphy Funeral Homes

4510 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA

OBITUARY

William Michael Lapenta

September 21, 1961September 30, 2019
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William Michael Lapenta was born on September 21, 1961 and passed away on September 30, 2019.

In memory of Bill’s outstanding contributions to the atmospheric sciences and his passion for supporting the next generation of leaders in the field, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has established a fund in his name.

Donations to the fund may be made by clicking the link, American Meteorological Society, under Donations.

Those who wish to send a donation by mail may send to the following address:

AMS, attn: Lapenta Fund, 45 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Services

  • Visitation Saturday, October 5, 2019
  • Memorial Service Sunday, October 6, 2019

Memories

William Michael Lapenta

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Jon Porter

October 11, 2019

I wanted to express condolences to all of Bill’s family, friends and colleagues during this very sad time. We are still shocked at the news of Bill’s passing – it seems he was just with us an American Meteorological Society event. Bill was the best type of professional colleague you could ask for – tremendously smart, caring, passionate and completely committed to the weather community’s shared public service mission. He always was serious about his work but he never took himself too seriously – you could always count on his smile and sense of humor.

There have been many comments about how much Bill was loved by his federal colleagues – that was definitely the case. Bill was very well known within the entire Weather Enterprise and was loved by all. You always learned something new talking with Bill and came up with a way to make something better. In reflecting about Bill, one of the things I really loved about him was that he always welcomed feedback about NOAA models which he used that to make things better, he never took it personally or turned away constructive comments. I’ll always remember the many NCEP Production Suite Meetings in December he kindly invited me to and how he ran those meetings very effectively keeping the presentations on track but ensuring good questions and discussions occurred. He was ahead of his time in thinking about how the Weather Industry could partner with the NWS to make an impact that was greater than the sum of its parts.

To Cathy and Bill’s daughters – we are all thinking and praying for you during this time. Your husband and father meant so much to many people and had a tremendous impact on making the very best weather forecasts all over the world. I hope that knowing how much he was admired and loved by his professional colleagues brings some small measure of comfort.

Jon Porter, AccuWeather

Christine Magee

October 10, 2019

I'd first met Bill when he came to NCEP down at the old building in Camp Springs. I was impressed with his vast knowledge, how he treated people at work, and how he dealt with differences at the office. He was always so kind and outgoing. He was definitely deserving of the positions he took at work and was a strong advocate for all that NCEP does. I'm sad he was taken so soon and so young, and will keep Cathy and your daughters in my prayers. He'll always be with you.

Jeffrey Medlin

October 8, 2019

Bill was a FRIEND, a mentor, a colleague and my professor. Since 1998, he has always been available when I needed to confide in him. I spent almost a year in Huntsville away from my family to attend UAH. Guess who became part of my family? Bill. We often had seemingly endless discussions about Fluid Dynamics and atmospheric modeling. It took me a week to be able to write this because I am still in such shock. However, I want Bill's family (who I have never met) to know what a kind soul he was and what a positive impact he had on my life. My heart goes out to you. I pray for you and I wish you the best as you put your lives back together. Maybe one thing that will help is remembering how much he was loved by all of us and that will never change. Blessings - Jeffrey Medlin, NWS Mobile, AL

Marnie Pascuzzi

October 7, 2019

Dear Cathy,

I extend to you and your family my deepest sympathy. You have been in my prayers since the day of Bill's passing. Reading the beautiful and thoughtful tributes to your husband has given me insight into the wonderful husband and father he was.

I had never met you before I decided to talk a walk on the beach that day. It was just by chance that I was there, and our paths will likely not cross again; but even so you will forever remain in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you and your family.

Marnie Pascuzzi

David McGowan

October 7, 2019

Although I did not know Bill, I did have the privilege of recently working with Cathy before she retired from NASA. It's clear in reading the posts that Bill was a great father, husband and scientist. I knew that simply by how Cathy talked about him. I am so sorry for this loss and send my deepest condolences to Cathy, Kristy and Courtney. I know there are no words to take away the pain. Please know you have a huge support group behind you. The entire family is in my thoughts and prayers.

Daniel Melendez

October 7, 2019

I met Bill at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in 1990. The hallway conversations I had with him showed Bill's passion and drive for meteorological problems. His enthusiasm was off the scale! He made it possible for me to be in the advisory committee for the SPoRT project, a first-of-its-kind link between NASA research and NOAA meteorological science infusion. At every meeting I witnessed, Bill succeeded in stimulating thought and teamwork toward a common purpose. The same happened as director of NCEP except even bigger. I hope we can permanently capture his leadership traits and values in a serious vignette of what successful leading in meteorology can be for this and future generations!

Bill Hooke

October 6, 2019

Bill Lapenta didn't just settle for making acquaintances. He made friends. And he didn't stop there. He did more. He made his friends better people. His personal integrity, intellect, positive energy, vision, deep love for everyone around him weren't just evident -- they were contagious. To be with Bill, even briefly, was to come away more perceptive, more engaged, kinder, stronger. His influence will live on and grow, through the lives of everyone he touched.

Jeff Whitaker

October 5, 2019

Bill was such an amazing person - quick-witted, totally genuine, straightforward, a brilliant scientist who really knew how to connect with people.  He made a point of reaching out whenever he came to Boulder to meet up for beer and pizza at a local restaurant to brainstorm about science. But Bill was even more passionate about family, which he loved to talk about (especially when he discovered both our kids were at Chapman). It was truly an honor and a privilege to have gotten to know Bill, and I'll miss him dearly.  My heart is broken for the Lapenta family, and my thoughts are with you.

Genene Fisher

October 5, 2019

Bill was my boss at NCEP for almost five years, and more importantly, he was my mentor. I admired his leadership and how he set an example of how to make people a priority. He genuinely cared about people and fostered an environment where people felt valued and respected. While he carried the weight of a huge organization on his shoulders, when he spoke with you, he truly made you feel all of that could wait. When things got tough, he had the courage to stand up for what was right. He was constantly learning and challenging himself, setting an example for others. He always talked about how it’s important to take care of yourself and spend time with family. Bill was passionate about mentoring. He started the NCEP intern program as he wanted to give more opportunities to students and pass along knowledge and lessons learned to help them be successful in their careers. On the last day I saw him about a week before he passed, I told him how he improved the culture at NCEP over the years he was there. He said the culture of an organization starts at the top and he took that responsibility seriously. I will miss Bill tremendously.

Anjuli Bamzai

October 5, 2019

I was so saddened to hear the tragic news of Bill as were my colleagues at the National Science Foundation (NSF). We have had interactions with Bill over the years, initially as Director NCEP and more recently Director OWAQ.

Bill was scheduled to visit NSF on November 7 and we were looking forward to his visit. Alas that was not to be! It has been a somber week at work. Everyone is in a state of disbelief.

May it help the family to know that Bill was widely respected not just within NOAA, but across the federal family. We can only hope that time will be a healer of this huge loss.

RIP dear colleague, you will be sorely missed.

Anjuli S Bamzai