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William Thomas Achor, 88, of Westminster, died Sunday, April 15, 2018, at the Dove House. Born June 18, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the son of the late Helen (Neill) Achor and David Thomas Achor. He was the beloved husband of 59 years to Dorothy Whipple Achor.
Bill received his bachelor’s degree in physics at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in 1952 and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Vanderbilt University in 1954 and 1958, respectively. His degrees at Vanderbilt were awarded based on work with Sherwood K. Haynes. “A study of the L-level auger electrons emitted in the disintegration of Au199” was published in Le Journal de Physique et le Radium in 1955 (after research at the Health Physics Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory); “Low-intensity conversion lines from Sm151 and Sn113” appeared in the Physical Review in 1959.
Early in his career, he was an instructor of physics at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, a member of the technical staff at RCA Laboratories in Princeton, and an assistant professor of physics at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. In 1964, he taught two terms of mechanics in the physics and astronomy department at Michigan State University. Besides his 1953 research project at Oak Ridge, he did research at Mound Laboratory and the University of Maryland in the 1960s.
In 1965, Bill accepted chairmanship of the department of physics at Western Maryland (now McDaniel) College in Westminster, Maryland, where he spent the rest of his teaching career, retiring in 1994. While there, he designed some of the college’s most popular undergraduate science courses, including those that focused on future energy sources and the understanding of light and sound as physical phenomena.
After participating in a weeklong session on teaching modern physics held at Fermilab, he became part of a group who formed the Contemporary Physics Education Project to produce education materials—including detailed, colorful wall charts—related to the standard model of particle physics, then plasma physics, and later other subject matters. He resigned from the board in 1996.
He became an active member of the Chesapeake section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, serving as the head of the Baltimore area, followed by a year each as vice president and president of the section. He served two years as the vice president of the Maryland Association of University Professors. He also held memberships in the American Physical Society, the American Association of University Professors, and the American Solar Energy Society.
Bill and his wife Dot were founding board members of the Carroll County Community Concerts in 1985 and served on the board until 1995. Bill became a member of the Carroll County Commission on Aging in 2005 and served as chair in 2010.
Bill and Dot became members of the Westminster Church of the Brethren around 1975. An older adult group has been an important aspect of their relationship to the congregation. Bill—whose experiences teaching at Earlham, a Quaker college, strengthened his growing conviction of the importance of peace in the settlement of disputes—was a member of the congregation’s Peace Education Committee for several years, and he regularly wrote columns relating to peace for the congregation’s monthly newsletter.
For many years, the Achors were one of the couples who were collectively known as the A to Z Group. The others were Roy and Gladys Johnson, Sam and Doris Pierce, and Ira and Mary Zepp. They met regularly for the pleasure of being together and occasionally for projects of interest. Four of them have died: first Ira, then Mary, then Roy, and now Bill, but they live on in each other’s memories.
Besides his wife, he is survived by daughter Kathleen Achor and her husband, Timothy Hoch, of West Pawlet, Vermont; daughter Alison Achor, also of West Pawlet, Vermont; niece Dale Cunningham and family of Sevierville, Tennessee; and niece Lorayne Algren Black and family of Groton, Massachusetts.
He was predeceased by a brother, J. David Achor, a sister, C. Ercelle Lavender, and a nephew, Eric Algren.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Westminster Church of the Brethren, 1 Park Place, Westminster, MD 21157; or Carroll Hospice (Dove House), 292 Stoner Avenue, Westminster, MD 21157.
A memorial service will be held at the Westminster Church of the Brethren on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.