Yale University

In Memoriam

William W. Beatty


William W. Beatty
1964 graduation

Bill Beatty was remembered at a Memorial Service in Battell Chapel on June 5, 2009 during our 45th reunion. Below are:


Memorial Service reading

by Tom Susman, '64

William W. Beatty. "Bill" to most of his friends. "Bates" to those of us who lived with him at Yale. He was an extraordinary guy.

Most of us knew two distinct categories of students when we were in college. There was the brainy one, the guy who took math and science courses and aced exams. His nose was in the books most of the time, and he had little interest in frivolity. By contrast, we also knew the party animal, who spent weekends (and many nights) drinking, playing cards, searching for women, and looking for opportunities to engage in debauchery.

Four of us lived up on the fourth floor of Berkeley for Junior and Senior years. Harvey Berenson was the brain in the group; a very serious and studious fellow. Tom Kleven was the drinking, card-playing, party animal. I was neither. Bill Beatty was both. I don't think I knew anyone else who could combine — and balance — both academic accomplishment and social frivolity so effectively as an undergraduate.

Bill never came back to a Yale reunion, nor did he give a dime to the University after graduation. He was a pre-med student and his life's dream was to become a doctor. But Yale managed to mess up the numbers on his medical graduate record exam, and he failed to get admitted to any medical school. By the time the error was discovered, it was too late — or at least Bill was told it was too late — to do anything. So he went on to get a Masters and Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Wisconsin, and to do ground-breaking work as a researcher in psychology at both North Dakota State and the University of Oklahoma. But he never forgave Mother Yale.

I think that was certainly Bill's loss. To have missed out on the camaraderie and growth and educational opportunities available to those who maintain ties with Yale. And on keeping connected with his many friends from his undergraduate years. But it was also Yale's loss.

Bill was married twice and, when he died of cancer in 2007, was survived by his wife Karen and her family.

A few years ago Tom Kleven and Bill and I had our own mini-reunion in Houston. Bill regaled us with examples of the research he had been doing on Alzheimer patients, and his findings were pretty amazing. He told us about the man who could not name the instrument, read music, or understand what was meant by the term "middle C," but could play magnificent violin concertos. Or the bridge player who could not recall the name of the game or of individual cards, but could continue to play at an advanced level. I guess it gave me hope that, even after most of the memories are ravaged by Alzheimer, we'll still be able to do some of the things we used to love to do with our time.

Like Bill's years at Yale, his life was a rich and varied one. We will miss him.


Obituary of William W. Beatty

William W. Beatty was born September 19, 1942, in Chicago, IL, to Clarence and Jean (Wood) Beatty. He died December 2, 2007, at MeritCare Palliative Care, after a brief struggle with cancer.

Bill grew up in the Chicago area. He earned his B.A. degree in Psychology from Yale University in 1964. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology from University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1967 and 1969. He studied Neuropsychology as a Visiting Scholar at University of California, San Diego, in 1948-85.

Bill was a Professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University from 1969 to 1990. From 1990, until his retirement in 2004, he was a professor in the Biological Psychology Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. There, he served as Director of Graduate Studies. He was Professor Emeritus at OUHSC and an adjunct faculty member at NDSU, until his death.

Bill was a professional educator and researcher whose studies focused on cognitive function and deficits. He had enormous respect and gratitude for the numerous patients and other subjects who participated in his research studies over the years. Bill was a prolific writer and had 243 publications in his field, between 1966 and 2007. He was an invited lecturer at professional conferences and meetings throughout the United States and Europe. He was a peer reviewer and member of editorial advisory boards for several professional journals. At OUHSC, he received the Provost's Research Award for Senior Faculty and the Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation Presidential Professor Award.

Bill touched many lives during his professional career. In recent weeks, a number of former students and colleagues have told him how much he had inspired them in their own professional careers. They considered him a mentor and a friend.

Bill was married to Patricia Ann (Spanenberger) Beatty, whom he met in graduate school. Bill and Pat joined the NDSU Psychology Department together in 1969.

Bill later married Karen Olson of Fargo. Although Bill had no surviving close relatives of his own, Karen's large extended family quickly made Bill one of their own. He is truly survived by a large, loving family. After Bill retired, he and Karen decided to return to Fargo in 2005. Bill called this move from south to north "an unusual reverse migration."

After returning to Fargo, Bill resumed his association with the NDSU Psychology Department. He volunteered at the Fargo Airport Information Desk. He was a member of the Fargo Golden K Kiwanis. He was a lifelong Chicago Cubs, Bears and Bulls fan.

Bill is survived by his wife, Karen; his beloved dogs, Woody and Mick; and many friends, family members and colleagues. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorial Service: Thursday, December 6, 2007, at 3:00 PM, at Hanson-Runsvold Chapel, Fargo, ND. Burial: Riverside Cemetery, at a later date.

Memorials are suggested to the charity of the donor's choice or to the Roger Maris Cancer Center, Canine Companions for Independence or the Anne Carlson Center for Children.