William Gilmore Brattain
Passed away on November 17, 2019
William Gilmore Brattain (“Bill”) passed away in his sleep, at his home in Portland, Oregon. Born April 3, 1943, in New York City, he died November 17, 2019, at the age of 76. The photograph of Bill was taken in 1985.
Son of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Walter H. Brattain and chemist Keren (Gilmore) Brattain, Bill had a natural gift for math and science. He earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics at Carleton College and microbiology at the University of Washington. He created interlocking wooden puzzles and taught science at a private school. Bill shared his father’s interest in “tinkering” with mechanical devices to understand how they worked.
His deepest impulse was service to others. He worked for many years as a chef and manager in a nursing facility. Later, he served as a nurses’ aide at a memory care facility. In retirement, he volunteered at a shelter for homeless families. He had a knack for relating to the elderly, whose perspectives he valued. Bill was known for his easygoing temperament, sense of humor, and inclusiveness. Nobody was beneath him: he treated all with respect.
Bill loved classical music. One of his favorites was Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World.” He delighted in card games, especially bridge, which gave him an opportunity to make new friends. Bill also enjoyed taking walks, reading mystery novels, and trying new restaurants.
Family was important to Bill. He loved to connect with his extended family. He is survived by his daughter Karen and son Ross, his brother Webb and sister Debi, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws. Evelyn (Ehrichs) Brattain, his dear wife of 33 years, preceded him in death in 2007.
Bill had a big heart. His greatest desire was to help people. Anyone wishing to honor him can donate to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, https://curealz.org. A private ceremony will be held on November 27 to inter his ashes beside his father in Pomeroy City Cemetery, Pomeroy, Washington.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
William Gilmore Brattain
November 25, 2019
Bill and I became friends years ago at the bridge table. He was an excellent player. We also shared a friend who we visited at her nursing home. He was a kind man who spent many hours caring for the homeless and needy. I am privileged to have been his friend. Mike Spooner
November 24, 2019
Bill repeatedly demonstrated an admirable patience with individuals, old and young. Gramps—Honeychile’ to many of us—struggled after Grammie died in 1959. During the twelve years before Gramps’s death, Bill spent many days with him as they visited carny individuals who had influenced his life, in addition to spending extended periods of time at the Seattle Center in the 1960s. Bill also wrote plays, at least one of which, as I remember, featured some of these colorful characters.
During visits to Nebraska or times together in Oregon, Bill generously chaperoned walks or treks to the beach. He seemed ever ready for an adventure in which young people, driven by energy and curiosity, would take the lead.
Bill and Evelyn welcomed us during our trips to Ellensburg and Portland. Their generous legacies live on in Karen and Ross.
We will miss you, Bill!
November 24, 2019
Bill and his family visited us soon after we moved to Wayne, Nebraska in 1982. They came to our rented house on Birch Street for Thanksgiving. The four children--Ross and Karen, Brenda and Scott--put on a thanksgiving skit complete with costumes. We in turn visited them in Illinois, where Bill showed us his new Kaypro computer. After the family moved to Portland, we visited them regularly, and Bill and I would often play a game or two of chess.
Some of our best times were had on the Oregon coast. Bill was a good cook. Mussels harvested from a beach rock and a baked pancake were two of his specialties. Once we went crabbing in Nehalem Bay. We would drop traps and haul them up full of crabs. But they were too small to be legal, so we threw them all back. And everyone enjoyed making s'mores over a fire on the beach.
Bill loved Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark." I never knew why. Maybe he saw it as a commentary on the danger of pursuing illusions. Some Snarks, after all, are Boojums. "They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; They pursued it with forks and hope; They threatened its life with a railway-share; They charmed it with smiles and soap." RIP Bill! We will miss you.