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The following are excerpts from an article by Keici A. Feeney, OWL Editor-in-chief, (student newspaper) about Bill Gerson, professor of Mathematics, Prince George’s Community College, regarding his death on October 4, 2004. Memorial service was held November 7, Marlboro Gallery, PGCC, attended by administrators, faculty, staff, students, and family.

Born December 27, 1939, in Manhattan, NY, Professor William Gerson received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Cooper Union College and a Master of Arts degree in physics from Columbia University. He did doctoral work in physics at the University of Maryland where he was a campus leader with Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s.

He co-wrote the Radical Guide to the University of Maryland, and helped lead anti-war activism in the area. During his year at Maryland, he frequently contributed as a Washington Correspondent to the Daily Worker, which his father edited, as well as a number of local alternative newspapers.

Gerson grew up as a “red diaper baby” in a left-wing family during the McCarthy period and lived in a community whose values of social justice, equal rights, and courage in the face of repression he embraced throughout his life, his family said.

A resident of Annapolis since 1981, he taught at Prince George’s Community College for 25 years where he was a tenured professor. He served two terms as president of the Faculty Senate.

The Sept. 11 attacks brought shock and disbelief to the campus, and at a PGCC event not long after that..., Gerson spoke:

I think that one thing we all ought to realize is that fear and hopelessness, to a large extent, are a product of ignorance.  So I think one obligation we have, or should feel we have, in the coming weeks, months, and years are to kind of educate ourselves as to what brought about the situation.  [So] that these [terrorist attacks] don’t just fall out of the air.

In addition to his involvement with local groups such as Anne Arundel Peace Action, he loved chess, which found him most Tuesdays at the weekly matches of the Annapolis Chess Club. He also visited several European and Central American countries.

Personal Notes: Candice Cooper, Library Public Services. The first time he spoke to me, we were sitting side by side at a Board of Trustees meeting, and he, the president of the Faculty Senate at the time, asked me if I was a reporter, not knowing that I was the secretary of the college’s Classified Staff Organization. When I next saw him, it was Commencement. I was Marshall and he was part of the Faculty Arc. I remember glancing down and seeing his Red Chuck Taylors; they put an extra smile on my face.... In the coming years, I would continue to see his Red Chucks... The Red Chucks were his mantra, the affirmation that he was here; and he was indeed here – at every commencement, at every meeting, supporting the successes of his students, and addressing the concerns of his colleagues.

Furthermore, the Hyattsville Public Library is located on the same block as the extension center and so is easily accessible. Another advantage I appreciate each day is the modern equipment available to me not only in my classroom, but in my office and in the faculty lounge, as well.  Over all, while I greatly miss teaching upper level courses and engineering, I have found my experience teaching at this center a very rewarding one. Perhaps other full-time faculty might enjoy occasionally teaching a full semester load here at Hyattsville.


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 20, No. 1 

Fall 2004