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William Roy Engstrom

January 6, 1930 ~ November 27, 2017 (age 87)

ENGSTROM, William Roy "Bill" Of Belmont, known as "Bill", died on November 27, 2017. Son of the late Roy and Edna Engstrom, he was born in Cambridge on January 6, 1930. After spending his earliest years in Watertown, the family moved to Newton where he attended public schools until 1945. He finished his high school years at Phillips Academy, class of '48, in Andover, MA.

Bill loved everything about PA; the academics, teachers, friends and sports. Throughout his life he connected with the school. He had a special interest in the Andover Breadloaf writing program for underprivileged students in the Lawrence area. It has become very successful and has spread throughout much of this country.

Bill went on to Harvard and MIT. At Harvard, he was on the varsity soccer team, participated in crew and the Hasty Pudding Club theatricals. At MIT, he was a member of Saint Anthony Hall (The Number Six Club). His education was interrupted by service in the Korean War. He was in the American Security Agency at Fort Devens and Herzo Base in Germany, where he headed a team engaged in breaking Russian codes. His troops were praised by the NSA for being the most productive unit in the ASA. Bill found "extra" time to work at a German extruder company and arranged for distribution rights in Boston.

On his return from Germany, Bill graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in Physical Sciences. He had enough credits by his last year so that he could take practical art courses. He loved to draw and paint. Also, that last year he ran in the Boston Marathon. Later, he attended the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

After graduation from Harvard, Bill moved to New York City, where he was in the investment business at Lazard Freres and First Boston Corp. In 1963, he moved back to Boston, where he met his wife, Mary. She was living in NYC, only a short distance from where Bill had lived! They married in 1965, and moved to Belmont.

Bill was a man of varied interests. With R. Minturn Sedgewick, he co-founded, Sedgewick, Engstrom & Co., which managed pension plans and endowment funds of small eleemosynary institutions. He was Director and President of an Irish corporation which marketed tweed skirts and knitted sweaters. At J. Russell Engineering Works, he was a jack-of-all-trades wherein, among other things, he supervised construction of oil barges for the Army. He was proudest of acquiring a company, Olson Medical Products, which made heart-lung machines and artificial kidney coils and dialyzers. The company was sold to Terumo, Inc. in 1997, and still operates in Ashland, MA.

Bill implemented a plan to save Outward Bound from closing down after its initial three-year trial. He found someone to write an article for Readers Digest that stimulated overwhelming interest in Outward Bound and assured its future. The owner of Readers Digest made a generous donation and liked to refer to Outward Bound as his magazine's "greatest single contribution".

Bill loved to travel and read. He and his family spent summers in Sconset, Nantucket, where they belonged to the Casino. There they spent many happy times being with friends and playing tennis.

In retirement, Bill became very interested in early childhood education, especially the Reggio Emilia concept. He and Mary took part in a seminar at Reggio in Italy, and sent teachers there for immersion in their ideas and approach to teaching.

Bill was involved in Belmont town politics and served as a Town Meeting member. He was quite frustrated at his failure to implement some of his ideas, but never quit trying!

Full of stories and laughs, Bill was also a passionate man, unafraid to stand up for what he thought was right. He cared that everyone should be treated equally (he joined the MLK, Jr. March on Washington) and should not be afraid to try their hardest and fail – he did both frequently and always came back stronger and wiser. Through the hardest of times, he gave generously to those who needed help.

A loving father and grandfather, Bill is survived by his wife Mary of Belmont, MA; his children: Harold Engstrom, Lincoln, MA; Jennie Fancher, Avon, CO; and Gay Engstrom, Belmont, MA; and nine grandchildren.

Those who wish to honor Bill's memory may contribute to Alzheimer's research at the Development Office, Brigham & Women's Hospital, 116 Huntington Ave., 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02116 or to Phillips Academy, 180 Main St., Andover, MA 01810. 

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