It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of William Wickless, Professor Emeritus of the Mathematics Department. Retired members of the department and those who have been in the department many years knew him as a cheerful colleague. He served in a role of Associate Head for the department and played a significant role in strengthening our graduate program.
Please see this beautiful obituary: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/legacyremembers/william-j-wickless-obituary?id=54142160
In addition, below are some words from two retired colleagues:
MathSciNet lists Bill Wickless as author or co-author (with 15 collaborators) of 63 publications on group theory, associative rings and algebras, commutative algebra, and two on history/biography and general topics. The Mathematics Genealogy Project page shows that he was a doctoral student of Ross Beaumont at the University of Washington, and advised four doctoral students during his more than three decades as an active member of our faculty. (Those students: Jae-myung Chung of Seoul National University, the late Pat Goeters of Auburn University, Paul Budney and the late Reiff Lafleur of Troy University.).
Bill’s conscientious devotion to clear exposition and impressive gift for constructing patient explanations of subtleties made him an excellent and popular instructor, and culminated in the graduate algebra text that he produced – as I recall, as an emeritus faculty member. I had the privilege of reviewing that work as he produced it, and was greatly impressed by its engaging style and excellent readability.
By no means to minimize his distinguished career as a productive colleague and consummate professional, the foregoing is not what comprises most of my remembrance of Bill. Rather, I always saw him primarily as a most congenial and very likable colleague, one of my closest friends in the department. I was not alone in that outlook. His welcoming nature led to many fruitful visits here by fellow algebraists, including Roger and Sylvia Wiegand of the University of Nebraska, Adolf Mader from the University of Hawaii and Kevin C. O’Meara from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Bill had a marvelous sense of humor, a real zest for life and an unusual gift for telling engrossing stories that enlivened any gathering he joined. A favorite example from my own family: when we hosted the Wicklesses for dinners, our two (then young) children would always sit at the top of the stairs and listen for his contributions to our conversations. As one of them put if after hearing his hilarious account of a wild ride with a Mercedes-Benz salesman years before in Southern California, “Dr. Wickless tells the best stories!”
His lively contributions to emeritus-faculty gatherings have been sorely missed, as his disabling health problems kept him confined to the Mansfield Rehab Center. He truly was an irreplaceable part of our lives at UConn, and Cecile and I will miss him greatly
Bill Wickless was a good colleague and a loyal friend for many years. Bill Wickless and Chuck Vinsonhaler brought me to UConn. I remember very fondly the first few years in the department when the three of us ran our own mini-algebra seminar trying to find joint research projects in the intersection of our respective areas of interest. We ended up collaborating on several papers and sharing many lunches at all the restaurants on our campus. He will be much missed.