Lee Funeral Home


William H. Tranter

October 24, 1939May 5, 2019

William Harrington Tranter, 79, of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, formerly of Blacksburg, VA, passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday, May 5, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Judith, his daughter Elizabeth Ann Tranter, of North Myrtle Beach, and his son John Harrington Tranter and daughter-in-law Danni Li of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

William was born in 1939 to William D. and Margaret E. Tranter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Later moving with his family to Dothan, Alabama, he developed interests in music, photography, astronomy, and model railroading. In high school, his teachers identified and encouraged his lifelong love of writing.

As a student at the University of Alabama, William met Judith Piper, his lifelong love, whom he married in 1961. William H. Tranter received the B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama, in 1964, 1965, and 1970, respectively. He joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1969, where he served as an Assistant and Associate Dean of Engineering from 1980 to 1985. He was named Schlumberger Professor in 1985. His devotion to his students was recognized through several teaching awards. In 1997, he joined the faculty at Virginia Tech, as the Bradley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and member of the Mobile and Radio Research Group (now Wireless@VT.) He served as a Program Director in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate with the National Science Foundation from 2009 to 2011.

A pioneer in the field of communications and simulation, William contributed chapters to a number of books and published more than 75 research journal and conference papers. He also co-authored a number of widely-used undergraduate textbooks in the communications area. Throughout his career, he was active in the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and was named Fellow in 1985 and life fellow in 2005. He served as a member of the Board of Governors and Director of Journals of the IEEE Communications Society, was elected Vice President-Technical Activities, and served an 11-year term as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications. He received an IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984, a Millennium Medal in 2000, the Donald McLellan Meritorious Service Award from the IEEE Communications Society in 2000, and the Publications Exemplary Service Award in 2001.

William will be remembered by friends around the world for his scholarship, mentorship, and generosity. He loved international travel, music, dining, and hours of animated conversation with family and friends. His wisdom, friendship and humor will be missed by those left to mourn his passing.

The family would like to extend its gratitude to Lower Cape Fear Hospice and the exceptional in-home caregivers who provided compassionate care and warm companionship in his final months. A Memorial Service will be held for William on Saturday July 20 at 1:00 pm at Lee Funeral Home in Little River, SC. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Ainwsorth Endowed Graduate Scholarship in Applied Mathematics at the University of Alabama, or Wireless@VT at Virginia Tech. Online condolences may be offered at:


  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, July 20, 2019


William H. Tranter

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jeffrey Reed

May 5, 2021

I have thought of Bill many times over the past two years, remembering his words of wisdom.


May 5, 2020

I have thought about Bill many times over the past year and still pray for all of your loved ones.

Ronald Houts

July 13, 2019

Unlike most of the prior posts, I first met Bill when he was a Ph.D. candidate and I was a young Asst. Prof. fresh out of the Army. We both worked on a NASA contract under the direction of Richard S. Simpson. Bill was one of the hardest working fellows I ever met; for example one term he worked on the Contract half-time, taught two courses for the EE dept. and took two courses! Our paths crossed once again in 1979 when we both were Battelle consultants to the Army Missile Cmd. in Huntsville. We shared an apartment and on the weekends when I went home, Bill spent time studying about microprocessors. He was kind enough in 1986 to recommend me for the Dept. Head at Rolla; which gave us some time to visit, Finally, Bill remained in my thoughts for several years as I was teaching out of the textbook "Principles of Communication" he co-authored with Roger Ziemer. He was a mover in IEEE programs and will no doubt be missed.

Kim Fowler

July 6, 2019

I mowed the Tranters' lawn in the early and mid 1970s and cleared their back hedge of poison ivy. I had Dr. Tranter in Communications Theory in the late 1970s at the University of Missouri - Rolla. I still have his textbook on my bookshelf.

I appreciated Dr. Tranter's tutelage and humor in class. I only wish that I could have seen his model railroad.

My condolences to the family.

Eddie Fowler

July 6, 2019

As a colleague of Bill's on the EE Faculty at UMR from 1969 to 1975, I send my condolences on Bill's passing to his family.
Dr. Eddie Fowler, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of EE, Kansas State University

Mike Turner

July 3, 2019

When I began grad school at UMR in 1975, Bill Tranter became my MS and later Ph.D. advisor. He was an outstanding mentor and teacher. He also became a friend. I recall an early discussion in our relationship, shortly after I arrived in Rolla with my shiny new BSEE, when I went to him for advice and answers, which he was happy to provide. But the thing I remember most about that meeting is that he ended it by saying at some future time he hoped and expected that our relationship would shift so that we would be not a student looking for answers, but rather well-informed colleagues discussing the pros and cons of technical issues (and even respectfully disagreeing!). He always encouraged, welcomed, and embraced discussions like that—always elevating the student in a way that invited conversation as an equal. He was a wonderful mentor. I also recall that he loved to tell stories—once he said to me that he tried not to let literal truth get in the way of a good story. He will always be remembered and appreciated by an enormous number of people who knew him either as a student and mentor or as a friend and colleague. I believe that even now he surely is still learning and researching and teaching and helping others to grow. Thank you, Bill.

Walt Gajda

July 1, 2019

Bill Tranter was one of the finest colleagues I was privileged to know. He had incredible moral values. When I needed guidance, he was always there for me. He was also there for the department, for our students, and for the Rolla campus of the University of Missouri. He was that rarest of people, fine husband, father, teacher, scholar and administrator.

Rest In peace, my friend and colleague. I miss our late afternoon, after hours, discussions.

My condolences to his wife, children and other loved ones. I was very fortunate to have known him and to have benefited from his wisdom and experience.

Tom Biedka

June 22, 2019

Sarah and I are very sorry to hear about Bill's passing. I had the privilege to have him on my PhD committee and he was always thoughtful, encouraging, and generous with his time.

Maruf Mohammad

June 22, 2019

Dr. Tranter was my M.S. and Ph.D. adviser in Virginia Tech while I was a graduate student there during 2000-2006. He was an accomplished scholar, inspiring teacher and above all a gentleman in every sense. Not only did he advise me in academic matters, he offered valuable life lessons as well. My condolence to his family.

Will Ebel

June 22, 2019

Bill was my PhD advisor at the University of Missouri - Rolla back in the late 1980's. He was a true gentleman, always generous with his time, and was truly loyal to his friends and colleagues. He helped me out during a particularly difficult time in my life which I will always be grateful for and never forget.

Bill - May you rest in peace in the arms of our Lord.