Dr. William J. (Bill) Bicknell, of Marshfield, died at home June 5, at age 75. He was an outspoken, inspirational international health practitioner and advocate who sought to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in more than 60 countries. He was the founder and chair emeritus of the Department of International Health at the Boston University School of Public Health and held a dual appointment at the BU School of Medicine as a professor and director of international health programs in the Department of Family Medicine. During a career that spanned five decades, Bill held posts as the first medical director of the U.S. Job Corps, Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health, acting director of the Neighborhood Health Center Program for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, and medical director of health and retirement funds for the United Mine Workers of America. Born in Boston and raised in Waban, Mass., Bill earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Johns Hopkins University in 1958, and an M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine in 1963. He joined the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and was named senior physician for Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia. Several years after returning from Ethiopia, Bill earned an MPH from the University of California, Berkeley. After coming to BU in 1978, he focused on establishing the curriculum for the Department of International Health and later established the Center for International Health that was eventually expanded into the current Center for Global Health and Development. Bill devoted the last years of his life to strengthening the work of the Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance, improving the medical system in the Southern African country. He is survived by his wife, Jane Hale; brother Richard and wife Bette Ann of Port Orange, Fla.; son Richard and wife Barbara of Santa Clara, Calif.; son Christopher and wife Kelly of Buxton, Maine; and grandsons Gareth and Julian of Buxton, Maine. A memorial service will be held at North Community Church, 72 Old Main St., Marshfield, Saturday, June 16 at 11 a.m. The Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance will construct a house in Bill's honor for medical students, residents, and visitors at Motebang Hospital in Leribe, Lesotho. Tax-deductible donations to this project may be sent to Global Primary Care, P.O. Box 181084, Boston, MA 02118.
Published in The Marshfield Mariner from June 12 to June 19, 2012