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Babione Funeral Home

OBITUARY

William Richard Opperman

August 20, 1943February 11, 2021
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William Richard Opperman was born on August 20, 1943 in Waterbury, Connecticut and passed away on February 11, 2021 in Margate, Florida and is under the care of Babione Funeral Home.

Memorial Gathering will be held on February 15, 2021 at 6:00 pm at Babione Funeral Home, 10060 Calle Comercio Drive, Boca Raton, Florida.

You may leave a message for the family by clicking here.

Services

  • Memorial Gathering

    Monday, February 15, 2021

Memories

William Richard Opperman

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Elizabeth Geddes

February 20, 2021

Please accept my heartfelt condolences for your loss. I'm so sorry. I met Bill Opperman almost twenty years ago and his enthusiasm, classes and fieldtrips inspired me to become a geologist. He was such a warm, knowledgeable, kind, and fun loving soul who touched every life he met in positive ways.
I met up with him again a few years ago when I was contemplating a career change to teaching. It was such a pleasure to see him after all those years. Today I continue working in water resources and just recently advanced to candidacy for the PhD. This journey all started for me the day I walked into Bill's class and I am forever grateful. The many memories, I will cherish always. Heartfelt gratitude for you, Bill.

Elizabeth Geddes PG

Daniel Goch

February 17, 2021

My condolences and deepest sympathies to the friends and family.

As we've all experienced, Bill was full of personality and a magnetic love for rocks. I had his class introductory Geology class in the spring of 2017 and I'd spend way too long after class just listening to his stories. He always loved sharing his adventures, especially those with his friend Fred, as they dug up rocks from every corner of the country. Bill inspired me to pursue Geology at UF, to try and experience that excitement he exhumed from each of his tales.

While at UF, Bill visited me twice with his colleague and friend from BC, Marcial. He brought with him many rocks and more stories to share. As we wandered around the campus, he would talk about the Geology department of yore, how it had been through so many changes, and when I gave him a tour of it's current iteration he seemed impressed and in awe of it's advancement. I flipped the tables on him as he had to listen to me rattle on about trips and rocks for once!

It has been an amazing journey that has certainly surpassed all expectations I held. From traveling across the country just to see some niche rock, camping with friends, to teaching kids about Geology. There is so much I would not have experienced without Bill.

I hope to radiate that same friendliness and inspiration towards others that Bill showed towards me.

With profound respect,

Daniel Goch

(The photo is of Bill and I next to the "Outcrop of Honor" when he visited UF two years ago, in 2019. In between us are his contributions, two memorials- one for his mother and one for his friend, Fred Olsen.)

Susan Oldfather

February 16, 2021

I first met Bill in the 1980s at the 7 mile bridge road race. We instantly clicked and had many adventures together.
He had his Chevy Nova then which was kinda blue and covered with body putty because Bill swore he would drive it forever, which was the name of the book he had on cars. ...and he almost did! It wasn’t until the door fell off and the steering wheel pulled out that he gave it up.
We traveled all over Europe on trains, he was interested in everything especially the local rocks, and collected stories from everyone. We hiked 262 miles from southern Vermont to Canada. In that time, Bill pulled me out of gorges, encouraged me through a swamp and tolerated my fear of lean to mice with incredible patience.
Bill was dedicated to science and scoffed at superstition. The best example is when he swiped a piece of lava from Kilowea volcano in Hawaii defying the jealous goddess Pele.

Bill was a big part of who I am today with all I learned from him. I will always love him.
Susan

Carey Witkov

February 16, 2021

Bill was on the committee that hired me in 1978. The blackboard diagrams I drew teaching Astronomy were taught to me by Bill who drew them on napkins while we had lunch together. I looked forward to every story he told. Whenever he asked me to join him in the geology lab for his latest project I'd drop whatever I was doing because I knew it would be fun and educational.

Bill was a one-of-a-kind teacher, always clear, empathetic, funny and devoted to science. I once team taught a class with Bill where each of us taught the class for a few weeks. Teaching a class after Bill was like trying to give a speech after Abraham Lincoln.

Bill's humanity (humility, humor, curiosity, skillfulness, helpfulness, and more) was in another league. My 3rd grade teacher gave me a science book and inscribed some words I haven't forgotten but which apply more to Bill: "your humility is a candle to your virtue." I will forever be thankful to have known Bill Opperman.

Photo: Bill visiting me in Boston in March 2019.

Allen DeWeese

February 16, 2021

I knew Bill for close on 60 years, going back to our early cycling days in Ft. Lauderdale when he was in college and I was in high school. Later our paths crossed again at the university in Ganesville. Riding together through the surrounding countryside, we also talked a lot, about rocks as well as life in general, and I came to learn a lesson that I never forgot: that there are people like him in this world who really love what they choose as their life's work, and through him I saw that it was possible for me also.

Years later, our paths crossed once again down here. We started seeing each other at running races, and then resumed bike riding. His evident contentment with teaching reinforced my admiration for him as a person who had chosen his course and made good with it.

More years went by, and once again we were back in touch, this time through Susan, who encouraged me to reconnect with Bill. I did, I was invited to join breakfast bike rides with him, Susan and some of their their BSC chums, and before I knew it it was just like old times. Same old Bill, couldn't let teaching go, still with tales of rocks and how old this world really is. The renewal of the old friendship over the last few years was a very important thing for me, and one I will greatly miss.

Rest in peace, old friend.

From Heliana:

Estimada Sandra

Reciba nuestras más sentidas condolencias ante la pérdida de tu esposo. Su partida nos dejo muy tristes. Además de un querido amigo, Bill era una persona especial y lo extrañaremos mucho . Que la fuerza de la fé la conforte a usted y a su família. Cuente con nuestro apoyo e amistad. Un gran abrazo.

Tony DeLia

February 16, 2021

Bill Opperman was a truly amazing person. He will always stand out in my mind as one of the most knowledgeable, friendly, and humble people I have ever met. Having heard countless stories of his many adventures “out in the field,” I realize too that I’ll probably never meet another story teller like Bill. He was able to point out the seemingly simplest features of the world around you and take you on a much deeper and fascinating journey than you would have ever have thought was possible. You always learned a lot on that journey too. Things you could use in the classroom or the lab. Maps, rocks, pieces of glass, a dripping faucet, old computers … there was never a shortage of things Bill could walk over to and begin expounding upon.


The last time I saw Bill he helped my independent study student and I fix some telescopes he had used decades ago in his night classes. We learned more about the telescopes in the hour we spent with him than in many months of research and consultation with experts. It was a perfect example of how he was always willing to help give useful insights and show you how to solve just about any problem that might occur in the lab or the field.

As an educator, a scientist, a story teller and a friend, I will never know another person like Bill Opperman.

Jill Stolicny

February 16, 2021

Such a tremendous loss to all who knew Bill. His ability to captivate us with a story of a rock, this rock, any rock...somehow left you begging to hear more! He was funny, intelligent, truly fascinating and incredibly missed.

Barbara J. Bryan PhD

February 16, 2021

Broward College has always been the daily home and adopted family to many. Professor Bill Opperman was a beloved member of the Broward family, who for over 40 decades contributed to the academic rigor of thousands of students. North Campus paid their respects last night because Bill was beloved. We showed up because Bill showed up for our students. He shared his profound knowledge of Geology unselfishly with all who knew him. It was a pleasure to meet little William and Sandra, albeit under sad circumstances. May your treasured memories bring you peace.

Dr. Barbara J Bryan, President Emerita, North Campus BC

Dr. Kevin Keating, North Campus BC

Professor Ira Alan Spector North Campus BC

Michael Nyitray

February 15, 2021

As a geology student of Professor Opperman in 2002 -- GLY1005H -- I can't say enough good things about not only about the learning experience in his class, but Professor Opperman made geology fun. With his cigar box of colored chalk, he brought-to-life his teachings with under appreciated artistry. Not only do I still have my class notes and textbook, I review them from time to time because all of that information is still relevant to this day.

That year, Professor Opperman nominated fellow honors geology classmate, Elizabeth Quinn and I for the Arthur R. Marshall Environmental Science Fellowship. That experience was so life influencing, Elizabeth changed her major to geology and went on receive graduate degrees in environmental sciences. On a quirky note, the only day of college I ever missed was when Professor Opperman invited his honors geology students to a field trip to Lake Okeechobee. We all thoroughly enjoyed that adventure, in part because Professor Opperman was both exceptionally knowledgeable and quite funny with his observations.

The world is a little less knowledgeable and little less nice now that Professor Opperman is gone. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say, he might be gone but he will certainly never be forgotten!

Reanna Camp-Witmer

February 15, 2021

Bill was on the committee that hired me to teach geology after his retirement almost 11 years ago. It was such an honor that he believed I was worthy of following his legacy. He continued to be my mentor and friend for many years and I treasure every rock, map, and new teaching idea he shared with me. I continue to teach with him in my heart.

I'll never forget you, Bill. Thank you for believing in me.

Your friend always,
Reanna

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