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William DeWitt

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William DeWitt Obituary
William DeWitt

1939 - 2013 WILLIAMSTOWN William DeWitt died Friday May 3, 2013 at his home.

He was born in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28, 1939, son of Marjorie Anderson and Calvin DeWitt,Jr., an officer in the U.S. Army. He attended elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States and in Germany, graduating from St. Stephen's School in Alexandria, Va., in 1957.

He received a B.A. degree from William College in 1961. After attending graduate school in biology at Princeton University and receiving the Ph.D. degree in 1966, he did postdoctoral research at MIT, working with the noted biologist Vernon Ingram on the developmental regulation of hemoglobin synthesis.

He joined the faculty of Williams College as Assistant Professor in 1967. After spending a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at MIT, he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1971, and to Professor in 1977. In 1983, he was appointed the C. Carlisle Tippit Professor of Biology at Williams.

Professor DeWitt served as chair of the Biology Department on numerous occasions, including from 1972-1973, 1977-1981, 1991-1993 and from 2000-2001. He was elected to a number of college committees including the Faculty Steering Committee and the Committee on Appointments and Promotion, on which he served from 1987 to 1993 as the faculty representative from the sciences.

Professor DeWitt had taught a variety of courses in cellular and molecular biology and in biochemistry. He had done research, supported by several grants from the National Institute of Health, on hemoglobin synthesis in amphibians, with the aim of describing the molecular triggers involved in the expression of hemoglobin types during metamorphosis.

He also studied the production of antibiotic proteins in amphibian skin, and more recently, undertook a project designed to use molecular strategies to augment hydrogen production in photosynthetic bacteria.

He had published a number of articles in professional journals on his research and has written three textbooks, Biology of the Cell: An Evolutionary Approach and Biology of the Cell: Laboratory Explorations, both published in 1977, and Human Biology: Form, Function and Adaptation, published in 1989.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Brady DeWitt; his son, Tyler; his daughter, Erica; his brother, Calvin, and his sister, Marjorie Robertson.

FUNERAL NOTICE: A private burial service will be held. Notice of a memorial service will be forthcoming.

In lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family requests that donations in his honor be made to either the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes.com.


Published in The Berkshire Eagle on May 8, 2013
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