William A. Drewry
1936 - 2020
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Dr. William A Drewry (Bill) died peacefully while in hospice care and surrounded by loved ones on June 23, 2020. His wife of 39 years, Nancy Miller, along with their sons Christopher Drewry and Benjamin Drewry, were with William at the time.

William was born in Dyess, Arkansas on October 23, 1936 to Clarence and Cathleen Drewry. He was the middle child with two older sisters, Erma and Virginia, and two younger siblings, Marji and Gene. He spent his childhood moving up and down the Mississippi River as his father took on grocery stores to run. He graduated from Elaine High School and played on the football and basketball teams. William went on to graduate from the University of Arkansas in 1959 with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering. He received his Masters in Engineering two years later from the U of A. William went on to receive his Doctoral degree from Stanford University in 1964. His oldest son, William Boyd Drewry was born in Palo Alto, CA during this period. William's first teaching position was at the University of Arkansas where his daughter Cathleen Drewry was born. The family next moved to Knoxville where William was a Professor of Environmental Engineering from 1968 until 1974. Leslie Ann Drewry (Currey) was born here in Knoxville. A life long love of Arkansas and Tennessee basketball and football started during these times.

In 1976 William took on the Professor position in the fledgling Civil Engineering Department at Old Dominion University. Dr. Drewry was an integral part of the growth of this department and the introduction of the environmental aspect especially in relation to clean water. Dr. William A. Drewry served as a professor in the College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University for 32 years. During this period, he served as the first chair of the Civil Engineering Department (1976-1984), as acting chair (1992-93) and then chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department from 1993 to 1997. From 1988 to 1993 he also served as associate dean in the College of Engineering and Technology. He gave freely of his time in service to his profession through a number of administrative positions in engineering societies both regionally and at the national level. He served on the board of directors and as president of the Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), he served on the board and as president of the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers, and he served nationally on the board of governors and in several national-level committees with the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was designated a Fellow and Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a Life Member of the American Water Works Association. He received many awards and citations for his outstanding service in these societies and in 1982-83 was named the Virginia Engineer of the Year by the Virginia Society of Profession Engineers. He was also designated in 1978 as the Outstanding Civil Engineering Faculty Member. He has devoted much service to the University including membership and leadership roles on many university-level committees including twice serving as Chair of Faculty Senate. He provided public service in many different areas and was recognized for one his activities (improving living conditions on the Eastern Shore of Virginia) by receiving the 2006 Town and Gown Service Award. Dr. Drewry has a lengthy record of research with 34 sponsored projects, over 60 published papers and reports, and a record of guiding the research of over 50 Master's and Ph.D. students. His work though with the Bayview Citizens for Social Justice gave him the greatest sense of accomplishment. There, along with Alice Coles and the community, he and his graduate students helped improve the living conditions of Bayview, VA by creating water and sanitation systems.

While at ODU William met and married Nancy. Chris and Ben were born and raised in Virginia Beach. A few years ago with children no longer at home, William and Nancy moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas or "back Home" as Bill would say.

William is survived by his wife, Nancy Miller; 5 children - William B. Drewry of Atlanta, GA; Cathy Drewry of Portsmouth, VA; Leslie Currey (Brian) of Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Christopher Drewry of Springdale, AR; and Benjamin Drewry of Austin, TX. He is also survived by 7 grandchildren; his sisters Erma and Marji; and his brother Gene, along with numerous nieces and nephews. He dedicated his life to teaching as he believed that education was the key to improving one's life and the world; advising and mentoring students; clean and safe water; social justice; and the field of environmental engineering. If he left any instructions it would be to "read the book". All of the answers are there for you.

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Published in The Virginian-Pilot on Jun. 28, 2020.
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6 entries
July 2, 2020
I am sorry and sad to hear about Bill's passing. I worked with Bill at ODU and his wise counsel and candid advice helped shape my career. He was passionate about undergraduate instruction and student success. We had some great conversations standing outside the east door of Kaufman Hall.
Rusty Waterfield
July 1, 2020
Nancy and family:
I was deeply saddened to learn about Bills passing. I dont usually write these things, but I wanted to pass these thoughts on to the family in your time of grief. Bill had an extraordinary impact on my life as a mentor while I was an engineering student at ODU. I was extremely lucky to start at ODU as a student at the same time he became a professor there. For all of the students he was involved with, we were better off by having had Bill in our lives. He took a personal interest in every student, and if you came to him as the Civil Engineering department chair with any problem, he always listened and tried to help. His enthusiasm for engineering and his genuine human spirit was passed on to his students. I can recall him leading our senior class in a rousing chorus of engineering songs at a school dinner. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to get to know him both in and out of school. I was blessed to have had him as a professor and a mentor, and I am a better person because of him. He will be greatly missed. My condolences to your family.
Robert Bush
July 1, 2020
Nancy, I was so sorry to read about Bill's recent passing. Sending you and your boys my deepest sympathy on your loss.

Joyce Hearn
June 29, 2020
I am very sorry to hear about Bill's passing. We were friends and colleagues while I was at Old Dominion and had many great conversations. He will truly be missed. My condolences to Nancy and the rest of Bill's Family.
Sank Williams
June 28, 2020
Hi Nancy

Sandy and I are so sorry to hear about Bills passing. I hope you and Christopher and Benjamin are hanging in. Bill was a great man - a teacher, an engineering leader, and, most of all, a friend. We recall both of you at our wedding and his comment to Sandy its about time that was vintage Bill.

Its been a long time since weve seen you and; in fact, we did not realize you no longer live in our area. Should you ever get back this way I hope you will let us know - we would love to see you.

Given that Bill was under hospice care, were guessing he is in a more comfortable place now. We wish you peace and offer our prayers to you and your family.

Bob and Sandy Kal
Bob and Sandy Kal
June 28, 2020
Hello Nancy. So sorry to hear about Bill. He was a special mentor and friend and was instrumenal in my obtaining my degree. Harry Glenn
Harry Glenn
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