William Church
William Church

Obituary of William Campbell Church

Bill was born in Portland, Oregon to Bernice and Walter Church and was predeceased by the love of his life, Barbara Tague Church in 2010. Bill spent a year at Reed College followed by a brief Naval service in California, before studying Architecture at MIT. Three years into his degree, Bill headed back to Portland to begin what would become a long and renowned career. He passed his architecture exams upon first attempt, a rare accomplishment for the time. He would later sit on the AIA board of examiners to spearhead improvement for exams and learning outcomes. An extraordinary architect and visionary, Bill won multitude awards for his outstanding residential and commercial design achievements throughout his substantial career. He worked tirelessly on multiple Single Room Occupancy housing and energy conservation projects in the Portland area, authoring books on these subjects along the way. He served on numerous committees, boards, task forces, associations, including the AIA, often in leadership roles such as president, chair and director. He was an instructor at the University of Oregon in the 1970s, as well as for the Department of Energy. Bill was inducted as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architecture in 1983. Bill was lovingly supported throughout his career and life, by his beloved wife Barbara. They were like two halves of the same cell, completing each other. They met in the early 1950s, while working at his father’s firm. Bill, ever shy, was slow to ask her on a date. But their courtship deepened to love and they married on May 9, 1953. Their profound respect and love for one another was apparent to all who knew them. Bill was often seen with his hand on Barbara’s shoulder and Barbara informed any who would listen, “Bill Church is the greatest man who ever walked the face of this earth.” Together, with Barbara and a handful of like minded friends, Bill initiated and designed a passive solar co-housing community in Portland that still thrives forty years later. Bill immersed himself in the natural world in a variety of ways over his lifetime. From kayaking, river rafting, backpacking with the family and solo, mountaineering, to hunkering down on the side of a coastal rock face during raging winter storms, so that he could really feel the energy of the natural forces. An athlete by nature from childhood on, he participated in any sport he could get his hands on. He was a devoted fan of the Oregon Ducks, quacking at every opportunity. He played tennis until arthritis won the game and then turned his attention to a book club that carries on today. Late in life he discovered painting and worked to loosen his grip on his drafting hand, creating some stunning pieces that his daughters now enjoy. He was graced with the gift of a traveling companion in his son-in-law, John, who took him to Scotland, Central America and on a road trip along Route 66. The accompanying photo is of Bill finally realizing his dream of visiting the Stone Circles of Scotland in 2011. John had asked Bill to show him how he felt, thus the outspread hands of joy. Music was always present in Bill’s life. Whether dancing wildly at a party, tapping his toes in a restaurant or blasting a favourite album while drafting. He enjoyed nearly every genre, but his favourite artists right up until the end remained, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Dave Brubeck, and Miles Davis. Bill was a humanitarian, an intellectual, an artist, a helluva dancer and many have been quoted to say, “the kindest man I ever met”. Bill left this world gently and peacefully on April 2, 2019. He was in a cozy, quilty cloud of comfort, thanks to many loving and outstanding caregivers, but especially Nellie, Nicole, Rosa and the wonderful team at West Haven Care Home. Bill is survived by three daughters, Sarah Church (John Pisano), Martha Wiedmaier (Ric) and Bronwyn Murray (Tom), five grandchildren Zoe Burkett, Ian Wiedmaier (Lindsay) & Sean Wiedmaier (Liz), Alex Murray & Rhiannon Murray, as well as nine great grandchildren, his older brother, Dudley Church and was predeceased by his younger brother MacGregor Church. The family invites friends, family and former colleagues to a Celebration of Life, followed by a reception: August 3, 2019, 2:00 PM Miller Hall, World Forestry Center (Bill designed), Portland https://www.worldforestry.org Please consider carpool or transit as parking will be limited. ~ “I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.” !
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