Eulogy for Bill Fuller
Delivered by Jane Turner

October 1920-January 7, 2013

William Richard Fuller was born October 27, 1920 in Indianapolis, IN, and attended Broad Ripple High School, graduating in 1939. He enlisted in the Army in August, 1942, and after Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, OK, graduated as a Second Lieutenant in April, 1943.  During eleven months of combat in Northern Europe he earned the Bronze Star Medal.

The GI Bill of Rights offered him an education at Butler University where he graduated, magna cum laude, in August, 1948. He received his the Master's and Ph.D. degrees at Purdue University.

 Most of his professional life was spent as Professor of Mathematics at Purdue. In addition to teaching, he served as Head of the Mathematics Department, Associate Dean of the School of Science, and Chancellor of Purdue's campus at Michigan City.  Bill served two three-year terms on the University Senate and, as Chair of the Educational Policy Committee, led the change of the Academic Calendar to the current early start, avoiding the post-Christmas "lame duck" session. He was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 1991.

 Bill was an active volunteer. The Lafayette Symphony Orchestra (and the City of Lafayette) would not be what it is today without the efforts of Bill to bring resident Conductor Eduardo Ostergren to Lafayette. He was active internationally through the Partners of the Americas, in which Indiana is partnered with the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul, serving as President of this group for five years and "behind the scenes" worker for more than 20 years. He served two three-year terms on the International Board of the organization.

We knew him as a Rotarian.  He was President in 1991-92, a year after I became a member.  Naturally, he was interested in getting to know the new members and the first thing we discovered was that we were both traveling to Brazil on a fairly regular basis.  His corner of Brazil is further south than my travels took me as an agricultural tour operator, but we both had an appreciation for the country and the people.

The next year there was a committee to create a new Rotary Club in Lafayette, which he chaired.  I volunteered for that project which gave me a glimpse of his tremendous sense of humor.  Did someone say puns?  Several of us contributed to the effort of constructing a new club, but Bill really carried the heavy beams.  I believe he went to every committee meeting and then every meeting of the new club for at least a year.  They rightfully regard him as the father of the Daybreak Rotary Club.  Service Above Self.  He lived it.

 Bill had a zest for life complimented by a way with words.  When kids on the streets of inner cities were creating a new form of music called Rap, Bill wondered if he could do that.  He came to Rotary one day with something he had written, saying it was a song, but he was not going to sing.  He read us a rap song that left everyone roaring.  RAP from a retired white guy!

 Bill recognized the importance of emerging computers and introduced computer-oriented mathematics courses at Purdue in 1969, then authored a book FORTRAN Programming, A Supplement for Calculus Courses.   When others his age were refusing to set fingers to a keyboard, he wanted to learn how to create and use web sites.  This is where my weekly dependence on Bill begins.  And now you are going to get a glimpse of the behind the scenes workings of your club.

When the Rotarian who built and managed the Club website resigned from the club, I was in a panic.  Sweet old Bill  (during a Vocational Moment a couple of years ago, he told us that he was sure the people working for him were referring to him using that term, but the initials could have meant something else) - Sweet old Bill is the only way I knew him) stepped up saying he thought he could help.  When I explained the timetable (we always try to get the newsletter to members as soon after the meeting as possible and the website builder was not into making any corrections once it was up) Bill said he needed more time, because he was using a math program that required translation.  For example, a % sign would make the rest of the sentence disappear.  So I would send it to him on Tuesday night, he would send it back to me in pdf format on Wednesday.  And those of you who corresponded with him know that he was always Fuller before he ate!  (the signature sentence at the bottom of the message).  I would read Ripples again and usually find something that needed to be changed -  a typo, missing words because of that % sign, a better way to phrase something.  His help with rephrasing or finding a better word was fun.  He would leap right into it with gusto!  I was always amazed and grateful for his willingness to make changes, and make changes even after it was on the web!

 As he got into it, he made suggestions about changing the look of Ripples.  He redesigned it and looked for ways to make it more inviting to read.  He would find the photo of the speaker before the meeting, so I did not have to bring my camera each week.  (This is a good thing, because one was stolen.)  And he would say things like:  I can put a link to the website of speaker or I can link the power point presentation to Ripples. 

When he traveled or I traveled, we would coordinate how we would get the next edition to members.  More recently, he would send me messages that said, I Will miss the Tuesday meeting  (usually for a doctor appointment), but will be here for Ripples.

During all of this weekly contact over an 8 year period, life went on.  Most of you know that I took care of parents who died.  After my dad died, I was able to keep him close, because I had Bill.  They were very much alike.  Their generation had a special grit that took boys from humble beginnings, created military officers who won a war, then used the military experience to become leaders in industry and academia, and teach, by example, how to live productive and fulfilling lives.

Bill did not enter my life until after he retired, but the impact on me was enormous.  His life is a lesson for all of us.  It is not over till it is over.  He lived every day with great humor, contagious enthusiasm, dignity and grace.  

His family includes his beloved wife, Lou, three sons, several grandchildren and great grandchildren - and all of us.

Delivered by Jane Turner, 29 January 2013