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Willard C. "Bill" Lacy

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Willard C. "Bill" Lacy Obituary
Willard C. "Bill" Lacy passed away on December 7, 2013, having celebrated his 97th birthday. Bill was born in 1916 while his parents were home on furlough from their posting as educational missionaries in China. He graduated from DePauw University and the University of Illinois, where he met his future bride, Josephine Wipior. At the end of a field season of mapping for his master's thesis in 1940, Bill and Jo were married in a small Presbyterian church in Sundridge, Ontario. With World War II on the horizon, Bill interrupted a Harvard Ph.D. program to take a job with Titanium Alloy Manufacturing Company to search for rutile, zircon and tantalum, materials that were critical to the war effort. Bill eventually enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the Naval Aviation Supply Depot in Oakland, CA. As the war ended, Bill went to work for the Cerro de Pasco Copper Company in Peru, where he rose to chief geologist in 1953. In 1955, Bill returned to the United States and was appointed full professor geology with tenure at the University of Arizona, where he established and served as the head of a combined Department of Mining and Geological Engineering. In 1965, after a sabbatical leave, he was offered a position at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, where, with his colleague Roger Taylor, he put together a M.Sc. course that would allow working geologists to use their holiday periods, plus additional educational breaks allowed by the participating companies, to attend concentrated two-week short courses over a two-year period. This revolutionary idea, although not welcomed by the Academic Board, who declared that it lacked academic excellence, proved to be an immediate success and hundreds of geologists have found the program to be a key to success in industry. In 1977, Bill accumulated all the background research, selected the sites and wrote the first rough script for what became a seven-part TV series, "Out of the Fiery Furnace," produced by Australian television. The series has been telecast world-wide and has been a major contribution to popular mining education. After retirement in 1982, Bill and Jo returned to the United States, where Bill continued teaching short courses. In addition to a concern for his students' education, the Lacy family home has always been a haven. Bill and Jo were long-time foreign student advisors at The University of Arizona and frequently took in house guests for short or long periods of time as the situation demanded. Bill and Jo were long-time members of the Catalina Methodist Church where Bill taught the Homebuilders Class for more than 50 years as well as singing in the choir. Jo passed away in 2000 and he is survived by his six children, John Lacy (Terry) of Tucson, Carol Salazar (Hernan) of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Marian Fellows (Michael) of Townsville, Queensland, Barbara Lacy of Lakeside, Arizona, Linda Alexander (Don) of Prospect, Oregon and Marti Goode of Central Point, Oregon; 20 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Bill was the recipient of many professional awards and a lecture series at The University of Arizona's Lowell Institute of Mineral Resources is named in his honor. Services will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., at Catalina Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bill's honor to the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources at The University of Arizona, a program inspired largely by Bill's efforts at James Cook University. Arrangements entrusted to ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Avalon Chapel (742-7901)
Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Dec. 22, 2013
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