Williams-Thomas Funeral Home Downtown
404 North Main Street
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 376-7556
More Obituaries for WILLIAM CALIN
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?


William ('Bill') Compaine Calin, retired Graduate Research Professor in French Literature at the University of Florida, passed away on May 20, 2018 at Lake City Medical Center. He was 82.
Bill was born on April 4, 1936, in Newington, Connecticut, the only child of Isadore ('Jack') Calin and Nettie Compaine, originally from Romania and Russia.
He completed his undergraduate degree at Yale College (1957) and received his Ph.D. from Yale University (1960). He taught at Dartmouth, Stanford, the University of Oregon, and, since 1988, the University of Florida. He was a visiting professor at academic institutions in North America and Europe.
Bill studied in Paris during his junior year in college. He fell in love with French Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Standing in front of Chartres Cathedral, as the sun was setting on the old stones, he wrote that he had found his calling: to study the literature and culture of medieval France. From then on, in his teaching and writing alike, he communicated both his knowledge and his love of the rich contributions that France has made to world culture.
Bill won eleven national/international grants, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, NEH, and Woodrow Wilson. For nine years, he was the International Vice President of the Association Internationale d'Études Occitanes. He was on the editorial board of numerous journals and was on the advisory board or an officer in many international organizations.
Bill published twelve books covering a broad range of French literature, from the earliest epics of France, through the lyric production of poets such as Guillaume de Machaut, to modernity. His expertise also included the so-called 'minority' languages and literatures of the British Isles and France, and the ways in which the modern world imagines, studies, and understands the Middle Ages. Two of his books received the American Library Association Outstanding Academic Book of the Year award. In addition, Bill published over 120 articles and book chapters on many topics, and delivered 230 conference papers and lectures.
Married twice, Bill had no children or siblings, but is survived by the academic 'daughters and sons' whom he mentored with assiduous care and acerbic wit. His friends will remember his love of conversation, his enjoyment of debate, and his wicked sense of humor. Bill had a special gift for lively yet friendly political disagreement.
Bill, a convert in the Anglican Communion, was a devout Christian. Nurtured by deep reflection and theological understanding, his faith taught him humility and suffused his work in ways not immediately apparent. Bill was a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Florida.
Even to the end of his life, Bill was busy planning his next lecture and his next book. His retirement from the University of Florida became effective only five days before his death. His steadfast determination to overcome his medical challenges, together with his joie de vivre will leave a lasting impression on his caretakers. While he published more in one lifetime than many could do in five, his creative and analytical energies would have taken five lifetimes to exhaust. He will be dearly missed by his many friends and long-remembered in academia for his brilliant contributions to French and Medieval Studies.
A memorial service will take place in the Fall. Please visit
Bill's memorial page at

Published in Gainesville Sun from June 3 to June 4, 2018
Read More
Give others a chance to express condolences. Not right now.
Inform family & friends of WILLIAM's passing.
Planning Guide
Free funeral planning guide compliments of Williams-Thomas Funeral Home Downtown