Born in Hampton, VA on October 9, 1939 to William C. Picott Jr. and Dorothy (Bright) Picott, Bill graduated from Huntington High School in Newport News, VA in 1957. Bill began his freshman year of college at the University of Kansas, where he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity with noted fraternity brothers, Wilt Chamberlain and Don Cheadle, Sr. Bill acted as Wilt Chamberlain’s first press agent. He went on to earn a B.S. in Business Administration and Industrial Management from Virginia State University in 1962, where he served as Vice President of the student government and Chapter President of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. In his senior year, Bill was named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. He was enrolled in the ROTC Program and, upon graduation, received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. Bill served in Vietnam from 1963-1964 and was responsible for communicating critical news events back to the US press. While stationed in Saigon and outside late one night for a cigarette break, Bill witnessed Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge surreptitiously sneak off by car ahead of what is now known as the 1963 South Vietnamese Coup d’État. Bill immediately radioed back to the States to officially report the event. Upon his safe return from Vietnam, Bill began a career in computer technology and management within the private business sector in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Bill continued as an active member of the US Army Reserves ultimately receiving the rank of Captain upon his retirement from the US Army.
Bill earned a Master of Science Degree in Management from Central Michigan University in 1974 and completed senior executive programs at Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School and MIT’s Sloan School in 1979 and 1990, respectively.
Bill spent 37 years working in the information technology industry, most notably with Digital Equipment Corporation (which was subsequently acquired by Compaq and then by Hewlett-Packard Packard). In his inaugural position, he became the first person of color to lead DECUS, Digital Equipment Computer Users’ Society. He went on to manage the Terminals and Printing Engineering division. After 28 years with the company, Bill retired in 2003 as the Director of HP’s North American Technical Sales Support Call Center. Throughout his career, Bill championed the hiring and mentoring of numerous engineers of color through the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). He also represented Digital on the White House’s Committee for Science and Technology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Bill took pleasure in photography, videography, tennis, and golf and was a longtime fan of the Boston Celtics, the New England Patriots, and the Dallas Cowboys (as long as they were winning). Bill prided himself on being an engaged father and volunteered as a youth baseball and softball coach, and Cub Scout leader. In the late 1970s, Bill played the role of Santa Claus for the Town of Harvard, MA Christmas Fair, entering town on the back of a fire engine. Bill redefined typical stereotypes by becoming the first Black man to play the role in a predominately white town in rural New England. Bill’s warm personality inspired children and parents alike to embrace inclusion and the spirit of the holiday.
Outside of work, Bill contributed his considerable talents to a variety of charitable causes, including the Parents’ Committees at Phillips Academy Andover and Groton School, as Trustee and Chairman of Nashoba Valley Medical Center (formerly known as Nashoba Community Hospital) in Ayer, MA from 1980 to 2003, as Head of the Deacons and Moderator of the Congregational Church of Harvard, MA. He was an active member of Pilgrim Church in Harwich Port, MA and the First Congregational Church of Sarasota, FL. Bill was a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, a member of the Bachmars social club of Boston, MA and The Doers of Cape Cod, MA. In January 2011, Bill was inducted as a member of Gamma Xi Boulé chapter of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and was later named as chair of both the Southeast Region Tech Committee and the Gamma Xi Strategic Planning Committee. Grand Boulé meetings were always one of Bill’s favorite activities.
Bill is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Hill Picott of Lakewood Ranch, FL, his three children, Philip J. Picott of Bradenton, FL, Allison Picott (Michael Goldstein) of Boston, MA, and Andrea Picott (Josh Sternfeld) of New York, NY, his granddaughter, Margaux Sternfeld, his brother, Theodore Picott of Clinton, MD, and a host of other family and friends.
Bill will be remembered for his exuberant spirit, his love of debate, his preternatural ability to turn strangers into friends, and his steadfastness in all areas of his life.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests gifts be made in Bill’s memory to Cape Abilities (www.capeabilities.org) and The Tidewell Foundation (https://tidewellhospice.org/home/tidewellfoundation/donate-now/).