It is with sincere regret that we announce the passing of retired faculty member Bill Woods. This is a great loss to our department, the community, and his family. Bill was a geographer in the truest sense of the word. He spent as much time in the field as he possibly could, often taking his students with him, and as a result made ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the nature of the physical environment of the Amazon Basin and how the indigenous peoples there helped to shape it. He was a recognized world leader in his pioneering research on Amazonian terra preta (dark earth) soils – islands of fertility in otherwise nutrient-poor soils. Uppsala University in Sweden awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2012 in recognition of his contributions.
Bill was a delight to associate with, a genuine “hail fellow, well met,” and always with an open door. Encounters were filled with laughter, entertaining stories from the field, and the enthusiastic sharing of a wealth of knowledge about how indigenous peoples used the land. To say that he loved his life as a professor and mentor would be a gross understatement. He loved to see the progress of his students and went the extra mile to see them through to completion of their degrees. Even though his health was declining, he participated in a proposal defense just a month and a half ago. He will be sorely missed as a colleague, a friend, a mentor, and a first-rate scholar.
It is requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.
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