William Gregory

William Joseph Gregory

1922 - 2023

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Obituary of William Joseph Gregory

William Joseph Gregory, a supremely talented teacher who had rabbits roaming and engines for dismantling in his 3rd grade classroom, has died on August 24, 2023 at the age of 100 and 8 months. He passed away at his home surrounded by family and the mountain, trees and nature which he loved. William or Greg or Uncle Bill was born in Providence, Rhode Island on December 20, 1922 to the late Daniel and Catherine (Buckley) Gregory. He was the beloved husband of the late Betty Eleanor Zeis who predeceased him in 2014. William was a graduate of Cleary School in Providence in 1938. He then went on to be the first in his family to earn a college degree from Providence College and later a Masters from the University at Maine. His lifelong career was teaching and he was a master at that.

William fought in WWII for over 3 years from January 1943 to June 1946, was in reserve for 4 years, and then called back for the Korean War in the Navy as a Fire Control, 1st Class Petty Officer. His ships were the Destroyer USS Stembel DD 644 and the Destroyer Repair USS Dixie AD 14. His primary work was tracing targets. He once repaired another ship’s wiring when no one else could. He traveled from Sasabo, Japan to Subic Bay in the Philippines, the Territory of New Guinea, and Casablanca, Morocco in North Africa.

He and Betty met at the Bilbao Park Irish booth at the San Diego World’s Fair where he was stationed by the Navy. They married in Providence and moved to Arizona to live on the White River Apache Indian Reservation where he taught a one room classroom for several years before moving to East Rockaway, New York. He taught grades 7 to 3 in that order for 33 years at Inwood School #2 where he also served as President of the Teacher’s Association. His classroom was full of plants, animals and an automobile engine and he excelled as a teacher. He and Betty raised their seven children, planted apple trees and vegetables, camped extensively especially in the Adirondacks, and traveled to Prince Edward Island and Alaska. Their home was open to people who were different or struggled and they were active in the community and the church. Betty was a founding member of the Charismatic Renewal groups for St. Raymond and St. Anthony, RCC and they both participated in and led prayer group events for decades. They got closer as time went on, and he cared for her tenderly until her death at age 90.

Bill spent his later years reveling in his new interest in music genres like country, jazz and American standards, and listening to National Public Radio. His favorite programs were The Round Table on WAMC and Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. He was especially good at putting together complex ideas in new and unexpected ways. He keenly followed religion and politics, and read up on quantum physics and CRISPR gene therapy which he thinks will in the future replace pharmaceutical products. He was remarkably broadminded and had beliefs and understandings that were beyond his epoch. When asked about his core beliefs he said “Christ is risen” and “Feminism”.

Left to miss his earthly presence are his son Thomas of West Saugerties, NY; daughter Elizabeth of Lynbrook, NY; son Lliam and his wife Beva of Manhattan; son John and his wife Michou of Bainbridge, NY and their seven children, Kyle (and Rhonda), Megan (and Timothy), Lydia (and Jon), Hannah, Noah (and Kayla), Priscilla and Josiah; daughter Mary and her husband Greg and their two children Sundee and Kelsee; and daughter Ellen and husband Mac of Iowa and their children Jaya (and Tav) and Mitra (and Meghan). He is survived by 6 great grandchildren, Arielle, Cassia, Jordan, Pierre, Anya, and Haven. He is also beloved to his sister Kayt, nephew and niece Tom and Siobhan, as well as Greg, Christina and Jennifer; the children of his deceased brother Daniel: Ann, Mike and Matt; and the children of his deceased brother James: Nancy, Dan, Sue and Pat. William will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

William was very generous with others by being encouraging and willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. To keep his memory alive, please be supportive of your neighbors if you see that they are struggling; volunteer for a nonprofit organization; and/or donate to your favorite charities. Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon him.