Gloucester, MA — Wentworth “Budd” Williams, 84, died peacefully at Addison Gilbert Hospital on April 12, 2013.
He was born in Marblehead, Mass., on May 14, 1928, and grew up in Groton and New York City. He attended Phillips Academy (Andover), received Highest Honors in Physics from Williams College, and earned a PhD in Physics from the University of Michigan.
Most of his career was spent during the Cold War in the field of underwater acoustical research used to support the US Navy’s mission of anti-submarine warfare against the threat of ballistic missiles from the USSR. As a senior scientist working on highly classified projects, “Dr. Budd” as he was affectionately known by his colleagues, was particularly proud of his open-ocean operations in the Pacific.
Following his retirement in 1994, Budd began his second career, actively serving the City of Gloucester as the assistant planner in the Community Development Department. He also served on the Gloucester Planning Board for many years where he liked to refer to himself as the "Head Policy Wonk," getting pleasure in analyzing even the most minute details of Massachusetts zoning ordinances.
Budd was a Renaissance man, and many people called him a walking encyclopedia. He always had an insatiable intellectual curiosity, from reading the dictionary cover to cover as a child to amassing a huge library of books consisting of every conceivable subject, including history, religion, philosophy, politics, science and mathematics, science fiction, poetry, classical literature and art. He loved verbal discourse and never shied away from a lively debate. In fact, there wasn’t a subject about which he didn’t have an opinion. He was the ultimate grammarian and never hesitated to impress upon his children the importance of precision when speaking or writing. He had a sharp wit and delighted in telling jokes. Puns were his particular forte. Classical music was his passion, especially loud and intense organ music, often to the dismay of his family. He was a mass of contradictions: an intellectual who adored potty humor, an atheist with more religious texts than most devout followers, and a WASP whose use of Yiddish impressed even his Jewish in-laws. Most importantly, he was a self-proclaimed curmudgeon with a heart of gold.
Budd and his beloved wife Pat had an open door policy at their home, providing love, support and a safe haven to all who entered. As a result, their family grew to include more than their original three children. Many people thought of Budd as a mentor and as a second father figure, much to his delight.
During the last few years of Budd’s life, he had numerous illnesses and hospitalizations, and he required increasingly supportive care. Despite his loss of independence, he maintained a kindness, dignity and sense of gratitude that impressed all who cared for him.
Budd is survived by his lady friend and significant other, Dorothy Martins; his children, Victoria and Elizabeth Williams, Diana Purser and her husband, Rich, Dorothy Poole and her husband, Thomas Block, Karen Thomas, and Wentworth Williams III. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Nick Roberts, Eric Williams, Yura and Katie Purser, and Louis Block; and his great-granddaughter Stella Sigalove. Budd also leaves his brother-in-law, Fred Miller; niece, Amy Miller and her family; and nephew, Chris Miller and his family. He is predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Patricia Williams and his sister, Ellen Miller.
In keeping with his wishes, his body was accepted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Even in death, Budd wanted to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge.
ARRANGEMENTS: A celebration of his life will be held in August. Donations may be made in his memory to the charity of one’s choice