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In Memoriam: Dr. Bill Jameson

Portrait of Bill Jameson with his two dogs

We are saddened to share that former WTI staff member Dr. Bill Jameson passed away on January 2.  Bill joined WTI in 2003 as a Senior Research Scientist, two years after his “retirement” from a distinguished engineering career that encompassed military, private sector, public sector, education, and research and development experience.  At WTI, he specialized in the development of telecommunications systems for transportation applications and was instrumental to the development of the Systems Engineering, Development and Integration Program.  He is fondly remembered as a wise educator, generous mentor, and good friend to all.

For more personal memories, we are pleased to share this tribute by another WTI alumni, Doug Galarus:

Former WTI staff member Dr. Bill Jameson died on January 2nd. Those of you who knew and worked with Bill will surely be sad to hear this. Those who did not know Bill should know a bit more about him.

I met Bill shortly after moving to Bozeman to work for WTI in 2003. Bill was chairing a session at a communications conference at MSU. Coincidently, I had been assigned to a project that involved significant data communication challenges. Several WTI staff members and I attended the conference and crossed paths with Bill. Subsequently Bill became a member of and helped what became the “Systems Group” at WTI with projects such as “Redding Responder” and “TMC-TMS Communications.”  Bill had previously worked with law enforcement on radio communications and other projects, and he brought a wealth of knowledge and a long list of contacts who could help us on these projects. Bill had also been faculty in the MSU Electrical Engineering Department.

I will never forget the time when Bill insisted that he and I travel to his family cabin in the mountains near Red Lodge to test a satellite communication system. Bill said that if there was any place where communication would be a challenge, it was there, and he was right. After carefully setting up the system and a camera to document our experiment, I turned around to find a cow moose looking me in the face! That was not exactly the challenge I expected.

Bill accompanied me on a later project trip to California where we toured facilities and roadways in Caltrans Districts 1 and 2 in Northern California to truly appreciate the communication challenges faced there. We toured the Redwoods and confirmed that communication was a huge challenge in the presence of “large conifers,” as Bill called them. We drove long, winding roads, including late at night as our flight to California had been delayed six hours in Seattle and we had a meeting scheduled the first thing the next morning. We went with District 2 staff to the top of Bass Mountain north of Redding to see the mountain top antennas that provided service to roadside cameras, signs, and weather sensors in the winding Sacramento Canyon. To call the path we followed a road would be an overstatement given the huge boulders we bounced over and around. We suspected that the vultures flying circles above us at the top of the mountain were there for a reason – they didn’t expect us to survive the trip! Despite the rough ride, Bill quickly became friends with Caltrans staff, and they always asked how he was doing. He never forgot that bouncy ride when talking to or about them.

When Bill’s involvement with projects at WTI ended, he continued to maintain a presence, and we were happy to provide him with an office. After various moves and consolidations in space we were no longer able to do that, and it was a sad day to see Bill leave with his belongs. He continued to stop by and say hi and bring donuts or other goodies to staff. While working at WTI and afterwards, Bill was a friend and mentor to staff and students.

Bill combined his wisdom with humor. Whenever someone would attribute something to “Murphy’s Law”, Bill would calmly reply, “I knew Murphy.” And he did!!! Another one of my favorite Bill sayings was eventually printed and given to me as something I should frame. Given the often-cluttered state of my desk, Bill would remark, “If a cluttered desk is sign of a cluttered mind, then what is an empty desk a sign of?” Bill’s desk mirrored mine, if not worse. Bill’s mind was full of great ideas and thoughts and was not cluttered. He had a big heart, and he will be missed.Bill loved his dogs, and his WTI staff photo showed Bill with two of his dogs. Baxter, his basset hound and Missy, his most recent rescue dog at that time looked right at home on the walls of WTI, along with Bill grinning from ear-to-ear. That same photo was used for his official obituary and is truly a good one to remember him by.