William Awtrey WEDGWORTH JR.
June 9, 1922 – October 1, 2019
A Brief Biography of William Awtrey Wedgworth
William Awtrey Wedgworth was born on June 9, 1922 on Chicago’s north side. He attended Clinton Primary School and Amundson High School. He started college at the Wilbur Wright branch of the Chicago City College, but when the United States entered World War II, he left school and served his country in the Merchant Marine. While in the Merchant Marine, Bill served as a radio man on Liberty Ships, notably the Caesar Rodney. He made three runs bringing supplies to the Russians at Murmansk. Only one of every three ships on this route made it back to the U.S. Bill recalled that ships close to him were torpedoed and sank. His own ship was fired upon by enemy aircraft, but fortunately he was unharmed. After the war, Bill learned how to operate computers when those machines were still in their cumbersome infancy. Soon Florsheim Shoes hired him as a programmer. Several years later, Bill took advantage of the GI Bill to enroll at the University of Chicago, the alma mater of both of his parents. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1961, and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Division of Humanities in 1964. His careful analysis of the principles of philosophy led him to write and submit insightful articles and commentary to professional journals. Bill enjoyed outdoor activity. A member of the Chicago Mountaineers, he frequently climbed rocks at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin and the Mississippi Palisades in Illinois, sometimes with his young nephew, Lee. In a particularly memorable high altitude experience, Bill climbed the Grand Teton in Wyoming and was caught in a ferocious storm on the descent. The weather turned so severe that he could not continue to the base of the mountain, needing instead to quickly make camp to take shelter overnight. Bill dreamed of ascending peaks outside North America and was excited to celebrate his fiftieth year by traveling to east Africa where he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. On his 75th birthday, Bill hopped on his 10-speed bicycle with the intention of riding 75 miles. He was disappointed that he only rode 68 miles! His fondness for traveling on two wheels extended to motorcycles. But one day as he approached eighty years of age, he came to a stop on his motorcycle, fell over, and needed help getting up after the mishap. He decided then that it was time to put motor driven cycles aside. Not all of Bill’s favored outdoor pastimes were so strenuous. He also enjoyed quiet nature walks and bird watching. McGinnis Slough southwest of Chicago was his favorite site for those moments of tranquil recreation. Bill appreciated the merits of finely crafted poetry and was a committed member of a club that regularly met to read and discuss poems. Frequently Bill hosted the group at his apartment. Bill had no children. He is survived by his niece Marcy and four nephews, Norman Lee Jr., Scott, Todd, and Brett.