William P. Densmore, 88
Civic Leader & Norton Executive
WORCESTER - William P. Densmore, a former Norton Co. executive who served seven years on the Massachusetts Board of Education and later helped architect the state's 1990s-era education-reform efforts, died of heart disease at home on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. He was 88.
He served on the state board from 1970 to 1977. Following retirement in 1982 as a senior vice president from Norton (now Saint-Gobain), Densmore collaborated on various initiatives involving education, health care, end-of-life policy and nonviolence. He was a founder of the Worcester-based Center for Nonviolent Solutions and a longtime member of Responsible Wealth, a network of individuals who advocate for fair taxes and corporate accountability.
Born June 16, 1924 in Brookline, Mass., Densmore was graduated from The Putney School in Vermont, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, later serving as a trustee of both. He started his Norton career after his discharge in 1946 from the U.S. Naval Reserve as a lieutenant, j.g. In the 1960s, he became active in civic affairs. Densmore helped found, or served on, boards of more than 25 educational, health and community organizations. He also was executive director of the Worcester Consortium for Higher Education and taught management courses part time at both Clark University and the College of the Holy Cross.
"[He] has lead the most active, civically committed life I have ever witnessed," former Massachusetts education secretary S. Paul Reville wrote in a 2008 tribute to Densmore. "He is active on peace studies, health-care costs, end-of-life planning, school politics and income distribution . . . he is my role model . . . a great catalyst, a broker of ideas, a motivator and inspiration."
As he pursued interests in management consulting, educational and non-profit leadership and entrepreneurship, Densmore wrote that he gradually "developed major concerns about corporate governance, excessive corporate influence on government, and growing gaps in wealth and income." He collaborated with Boston-based United for a Fair Economy and became a founding member of UFE's Responsible Wealth program in December 1996. He served on its steering committee and helped develop a shopping-list of rule changes needed in corporate governance and regulation.
Besides his interest in education, Densmore served as board chairman of the Worcester Area Systems for Affordable Health Care, as a member of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center Hospital Management Board and the Central Massachusetts Health Systems Agency board. He helped to found Worcester-based Better Endings to encourage compassionate end-of-life care. He is a former director of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. In 1997, he was awarded the Isaiah Thomas Award for Distinguished Community Service.
Densmore leaves his wife of 64 years, Martha (Lowell) Densmore and three children: Elizabeth C. Densmore, of Newport Beach, Calif., married to Robert T. Rechord; William P. Densmore Jr., of Williamstown, Mass., married to Betsy E. Johnson, and Deborah D. Cary of Princeton, Mass. , married to Charles R. Cary, as well as four grandchildren, Eliza E. Densmore, Christopher D. Densmore, Abigail D. Cary and Stephen G. Cary II.
A celebration of Densmore's life is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St., Worcester, where Densmore was a parishioner and active volunteer
The family requests that Densmore's legacy be acknowledged through either gifts to the Center for Nonviolent Solutions, participation in the Rules Change Summit (www.ruleschange.org
) or other acts of civic engagement. For further details, see http://newshare.com/wpdensmore
Published by Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23, 2013.