William Wickes Conant, 87, was born Feb. 1, 1926, in Camden, N.Y., and died June 24, 2013, at home in St. Augustine, Fla.
The first of four children of Lawrence Wickes and Dorrit Van Allen Conant, Bill spent his childhood in Camden, where the Conant Furniture Factory was a mainstay of the local economy. When the family moved to Washington, D.C., he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1943. He then attended MIT and the University of Michigan before enlisting in the Navy, and finishing up his service career in the U.S. Army. He returned to D.C. to earn his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University.
In the early 50s Bill homesteaded in Alaska with his lifelong friend, Ed Aikman, where they each "proved up" their three acres of land along the Eagle River near Anchorage. They both worked as engineers on the ALCAN highway and played music together at bars throughout Alaska.
In Washington he met and married Danny Shea of Knoxville, Tenn., in 1955. They lived in the D.C. area and raised three children, Dorrit, Thomas, and William.
Bill was hired by NASA and worked as a senior satellite engineer where he earned numerous awards, including the Special Achievement Award and the 25-Year Service Award. He was especially proud of the work he did overseas with the French "Eole" satellite program, having taught himself the language and enjoying numerous trips to Paris in the mid 70s.
Bill was an excellent athlete, the star of his neighborhood sports teams, and continued to be athletically active well into his 60s, playing tennis, racquetball, and paddle tennis. He loved to crew on friends" sailboats in the Chesapeake Bay and logged several Newport-Bermuda races with good friend Arthur Birney.
Bill moved to St. Augustine in the early 90s and "Wild Bill" became a favorite songsmith and raconteur in the local bar scene.
Bill is survived by his wife, Danny and his three beloved children, Dorrit, Tom, and Bill.
Craig Funeral Home Crematory Memorial Park (www.craigfuneralhome.com) is in charge of arrangements.