William Houston McWhinney
McWHINNEY, Ph.D. , William Houston
July 2, 1929 - April 3, 2007
A longtime resident of Venice, CA, Will was a designer, consultant, and educator. He first worked in the early 1950's with the Bell System designing computer and operations research applications. Following his doctoral work at Carnegie Mellon University, he co-founded a business school at Leeds University (England) and created the first American STS program at the UCLA Graduate School of Management. By the late 1960's he was working to form the earliest of the high-performing open system organizations in manufacturing plants and in community development, social and physical design. Following the civil rights riots in Los Angles he joined efforts to rebuild housing and the arts community in central Los Angeles, and continued working with marginalized groups and non-profit organizations.
In 1979 he helped found the innovative doctoral program in Human and Organizational Systems for mid-career professionals at the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, a program that primarily educates through both face-to-face mentoring and using electronic communication.
Publication of Will's book, Paths of Change, established a new combination of analytic and expressive tools for resolving complex issues in organizations and communities. The sequel, Creating Paths of Change, made the tools particularly user friendly for change managers and consultants. An unfinished work, Grammars of Engagement, was working toward taking system theory into a new exploration of communications and conflict resolution.
Will was chairman of the board of HealthSpan International, an organization bringing health care and telemedicine to Tanzania. He was founding editor of the Journal of Transformative Education, past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, past vice-president of International Synergy, and headed his own consulting organization, Enthusion, Inc.
He is survived by his wife Veronica "Bonnie" Flynn McWhinney , his daughter Susan Gentry McWhinney, son Peter Harrison McWhinney, son William Franklin McWhinney, sister Madeline Dale McWhinney, sister Cope Craven McWhinney, sister Anne Watson, sister Susan Morse, brother Rodney McWhinney. He is predeceased by his brother Leroy McWhinney.
He was a great teacher with a profound intellect, spirited energy and a deep heart. He was a metal sculptor with a deep appreciation for Navajo mythology and rugs. The generous gifts of his mind challenged us, his soul mentored us, and his heart danced with us. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Tanzanian health care non-profit organization that Will supported with his energy and heart: HealthSpan International, attn: Jim Katzenstein, 26571 Lucinda, Mission Viejo, CA 92691.
A memorial gathering will be scheduled in the future.

Published by Los Angeles Times on Apr. 8, 2007.
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10 Entries
10 years have passed, and Will continues to be an inspiration to all my work. I deeply miss your worldly presence and our weekly phone calls, but at the same time, your spirit is immortal.
Marc Tassoul
May 28, 2017
Although you were not an official member of my Fielding committee, I wrote on the dedication page of my dissertation, "to Will McWhinney, who introduced me to Systems thinking, and brought me home." Thank you again for everything, and especially for trusting me to do the editing of "Grammars of Engagement." Will, I cannot believe that you are gone
Kate Armstrong
May 6, 2007
My life has been enriched and blessed by knowing you these past 7 years. Your contributions to the world you leave behind is an inspirtion to many. God bless you!
D Epstein
April 28, 2007
I experience a deep sense of void as I write this note. Will, you gave me so much in our encounters - intellectual exchange, human contact, humourous repartie. I miss you deeply at all those levels - and probably more that I will discover as I move forward. You are and will be with me in much of what I do. Warm wishes for your own journey my dear mentor. Mike Miles
Mike Miles
April 15, 2007
Fielding Folks, Friends and family: Please join us in a celebration of Will McWhinney's life at a memorial gathering on Sunday, May 6 from 2:00 - 5:00 pm to be held at La Casa de Maria, 800 El bosque Road, Santa Barbara.
James Webber
April 14, 2007
With deepest gratitude for the depth with which you shared yourself. My mind is enriched and my soul is blessed for having known you. I will carry that with me always.
Linda Ford
April 9, 2007
From a younger sister who was always dazzled by your questioning mind and your creative spirit, how much I shall miss our conversations.
Susan McWhinney-Morse
April 9, 2007
We have been with him on several occasions the past years. Enjoyed his mind which never seemed to age.
He had the mildness that comes with real wisdom
Paul and Jopie Karis
April 9, 2007
From a scholar-practitioner mentee and friend who admired, contributed, and benefitted from his ideas. We enjoyed our last supper together on March 20th - a Japanese take-away from Maki/Waki! I will miss you.
James Webber
April 8, 2007
from a loving sister who enjoyed your mind and cherished your kindness --- Cope
Cope Craven
April 8, 2007
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