William Arthur PETRI

October 11, 1920April 9, 2018

William Arthur Petri was born October 11, 1920, in Kenmore, New York. His parents were William Peter Petri, a contractor, and Merriam Stone Petri, a school principal. They later owned and operated the Home Diner in Wellsville, New York, where Bill often worked in the kitchen as a short order cook while he was in school.

He graduated from Alfred University in 1942 with a degree in chemistry, and three years later received a Master’s in chemical engineering from Syracuse University, where he taught chemistry while he was earning his degree. In 1957, he received a second Master’s from the California Institute of Technology, this time in aeronautical engineering.

When he was six years old he was hit by a truck while walking to school and received serious head injuries which permanently damaged his hearing. Because of this injury he was unable to serve in the Navy during World War II and, instead, went to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to work on separating out U235 which led to the development of the atomic bomb.

Following WWII, he started his life-time work as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and was stationed in Germany where he debriefed German missile engineers who had been prisoners of war in Russia. In 1951, he returned to the United States, and spent the rest of his career at the CIA Headquarters.

After thirty-seven years in the CIA as a missile engineer, he retired and became a CIA consultant. He designed a course called Rapidly Advancing Technology Systems (RATS) where he taught government scientists about advancing U.S. technological research by taking small groups of them to defense plants all over the United States and arranging tours and lectures at each place.

He and his wife, Ann Emmons Petri, were married for 65 years and have four amazing children: Michelle Ann Petri, MD, a rheumatologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, married to Daniel Ware Goldman, PhD; William Arthur Petri, Jr., MD, PhD, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, married to Mary Ann McDonald Petri, MD; Elizabeth Petri Henske, MD, an oncologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, married to Robert Charles Henske; and Steven Richard Petri, an attorney with the U.S. Department Justice in Fort Lauderdale, married to Sarah Offerdahl Petri.

Bill leaves behind thirteen grandchildren: Daniel, a lawyer, married to Chelsea; Megan, a college archaeology professor, married to Leon; Jason, a tennis instructor, married to Amanda; David, a software engineer; Jessica, a financial analyst, married to Nina; Sarah, a small animal veterinarian; Brian, a State Department specialist in African affairs, married to Ashley; Rachel, a fourth grade elementary school teacher; Michael, an analyst in world-wide agricultural development; William, a pre-med sophomore at the University of Florida; Andrew, a freshman at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville; Kyle, a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale; and Benjamin, a high school freshman at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale.

There are also three greatgrandchildren, Blake 9, Alex 3, and new-born Olivia. In addition, Bill leaves one younger brother, Richard Petri who lives in Seattle with his wife Delores; two nephews, Kevin LaForge, married to Ginny, and William LaForge, married to Alisha; two great nieces, Renee and Merriam; and one great nephew, Stanley.

Bill’s interests were primarily the well-being of his family, financial planning, wood working, chemistry, gardening, and stamp collecting. He had a wood working shop full of his and his father’s tools and a series of neatly labelled cigar boxes containing spare parts, screws, nails, and other items, with a similarly professionally assembled chemistry lab in every house he lived in until he and Ann moved to John Knox Village three years ago.

Prior to their move to South Florida, they lived in McLean, Virginia for forty-two years, where Bill enjoyed reading, home cooked dinners, and sitting on his sun porch bird watching with Ann. He loved attending his children and grandchildren’s concerts, speeches, ceremonies, science fairs, and sporting events. Bill will be greatly missed by his family and dearly remembered as a kind, very intelligent, and supportive role model with a commitment to public service. His favorite charity was the Young Investigators Award of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, One Parkview Plaza, Suite 800, Oakland Terrace, IL 60181. Now.aspx?itemid=FUND TAXCONT


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William Arthur PETRI

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