DR. WILLIAM R. HERSEY, Professor Emeritus University of Massachusetts Lowell.


5865 HerseyDR. WILLIAM R. HERSEY, Professor Emeritus University of Massachusetts Lowell. Resident of Milford, NH. Formerly of Lowell and Chelmsford, MA


William Hersey was the son of the late Raleigh E. Hersey and Isabella (Hickey) Hersey.   He is survived by his loving wife of 19 years, Susan L. Hersey.


Dr. Hersey, beloved professor of English at University of Massachusetts Lowell, died on Sunday, September 4, 2016, after courageously fighting Parkinson’s Disease and other health related issues for many years. He was surrounded by family.


William was an extraordinary teacher and a passionate advocate for his students,   but more than that, he was their friend and mentor.  He is remembered for his engaging manner and ability to bring to life classic works of literature and impart  their enduring relevance with warmth and wit.  Throughout his 46 year teaching career, Dr. Hersey pioneered new curricula and led the English Department through numerous changes.


Bill was born in Lawrence on June 13, 1932 and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1951. He served as Hospital Corpsman Second Class, Physician’s Assistant in the United States Navy aboard the USS Sanborn APA-193 from 1951 to 1956.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from Lowell State College and his Master’s degree in English from Boston College.  He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of New Hampshire.


He began teaching at Haverhill High School and Northern Essex Community College, and in 1968 he started at University of Massachusetts Lowell (then the Lowell Technological Institute) where he spent most of his career. He served as Chairman of the English Department for many years and continued to teach past retirement until the age of 75.


Bill’s literary interests were expansive, ranging from metaphysical poetry to crime fiction, but he was especially fond of Shakespeare.  He also enjoyed music, playing trombone with a local 17 piece big band for many years; running, even completing a marathon when he was 50; sports, particularly the Red Sox; and the arts.  Above all, he loved spending time with his family.


In addition to his caring wife Susan, William is survived by his children, Kathy Hersey Logan and her husband Paul of Hudson, NH; Thomas Hersey; Lynne Hersey Ware and her husband Chris; and Justine Hersey May and her husband Alex of Chelmsford, MA; his 6 grandchildren, Anthony Hersey and his wife Jessica; Daniel and Brian Hersey; Sidney May;  Charlotte and Sadie Ware; and his 2 great granddaughters, Brynn and Tracy;  his former wife, Judith Hersey of Chelmsford, and her sister, Sheila McCarthy;  nieces and nephews Pamela and Ed Saindon, Patricia Asselin, Tracy Green, Todd McCarthy, Philip Hersey and their families.  He also leaves cousins and many friends.


William is also survived by wife Susan’s children, David B. Weisberg and his wife Jessica of NH; Stephanie Weisberg Sgroi and her husband Jeffery of North Carolina; and grandchildren Alexis, Jaxon, Nicole and Avery and great grandchild, Sylas. He is also survived by a brother-in-law, Donald A. Deneault and his wife Linda of Tyngsboro, MA.


In addition to his parents, William is predeceased by his sister Theresa Angelone and brother-in- law Angelo Angelone.


Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7pm on Thursday, September 8, 2016 at Dolan Funeral Home, 106 Middlesex Street, North Chelmsford, MA.


Family, friends, and colleagues are invited to a Celebration of Life at St. Rita’s Church, Lowell, MA on Friday, September 9th at 11:00 am.


Following the mass, family and close friends are invited to attend prayers and burial at St. Joseph Cemetery, Chelmsford, MA.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to:


UML Symphonic Band Camp

c/o Deb Huber, Executive Director

35 Wilder Street, Durgin Hall

Lowell MA 01854-3030


September 8, 2016
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Dolan Funeral Home


September 9, 2016
11 AM
St. Rita Parish, 158 Mammoth Rd. Lowell, MA 01854
  1. Earl Powell says:

    I remember Bill as a member of my 17 piece swing band. He was always the quiet one
    who showed up on time, took out his trombone, blew a few notes, then announced he was ready.
    Always quiet, yet ready to add an occasional dry humorous comment when the need arose.

  2. English Department, UMass Lowell says:

    A donation will be made to the UML Symphonic Band Camp in loving memory of Bill Hersey from his Colleagues in the English Department at UMass Lowell.

  3. Joe Valentine says:

    Bill’s memory lives on in the 17-piece jazz band that, thanks to him, still rehearses twice a month at U Mass Lowell. Bill’s optimism made life a joy.
    Joe (piano)

  4. Larry Ferris says:

    I had the pleasure of having Dr. Hersey as my Academic Advisor upon my return to full time schooling in 1990. Dr. Hersey was an outstanding and interesting educator but was even a greater person. He always had a smile, and kind words of encouragement for students. Whether you were talking about Beowulf, Shakespeare, Contemporary Fiction or The Red Sox, Dr. Hersey always kept the conversation entertaining and interesting. I had the pleasure of also working with his daughter Justine. My deepest sympathies to you Justine and your family. There aren’t many people with the ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Your father had this gift. He will be missed.

  5. Marlowe Miller says:

    I worked with Bill for many years in the English department at UML. His mentorship was so valuable to me as I made my way in the profession. He challenged me to keep my teaching fresh by regularly introducing me to new books and authors. I would often run into him in the library stacks, seeking new books for classes because he did not like to teach the same texts over and over. His curiosity and spirit of inquiry were inspiring! Bill was a wonderful colleague and I miss him terribly.

  6. Anthony Szczesiul says:

    I was lucky enough to work with Bill for several years before his retirement from the English Department at UMass Lowell. He was a kind, generous man, beloved by his colleagues and adored by his students. Sending my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
    Tony Szczesiul

  7. Norman J Landry says:

    A wonderful man full of good humor, a thoughtful friend well remembered from the good old days at Northern Essex Community College. My condolences to Susan and the family. Requiscat In Pace . . .

    –Norman J Landry, Dean Emeritus of Student Affairs, Northern Essex Community College

  8. Mary kramer says:

    You can’t talk about–or remember–Bill without using superlatives. He was outstanding as a colleague, as our Chair, as a teacher and as a gentleman. He is a sterling example of what Sir Philip Sidney called sprezzatura, and all of us are much better for knowing him. His death doesn’t leave a void, it leaves a black hole.

  9. Paula Haines says:

    Sending sympathy and peace to Bill’s family and friends. For me, he will always be the epitome of what it means to be a great teacher. A mentor, advocate, and supporter, he supplied us with a wealth of knowledge and a well of wisdom and compassion that we draw from every day at UMass Lowell. His wit and good will carry on.

  10. Bill Roberts says:

    I taught with Bill for over 40 years at UMass Lowell. He was a devoted teacher, a wonderful colleague, and a very good friend. I remember spending many hours in the English Department with Bill. Those hours were good hours. I loved Bill as a friend and a colleague, and I send my best to his family. He was a kind man (his former students and colleagues know that), and he will be missed. Bill Roberts

  11. Bill Roberts says:

    I taught with Bill for over 40 years at UMall Lowell. He was a devoted teacher, a wonderful colleague, and a very good friend. I remember spending many hours in the English Department with Bill. Those hours were good hours. I loved Bill as a friend and a colleague, and I send my best to his family. He was a kind man (his former students and colleagues know that), and he will be missed. Bill Roberts

  12. Jessica Stinson says:

    This is the hard part in regards to being a nurse….when one of your patients you love very deeply has passed. I feel honored to have spent the last two years of this man’s life taking care of him. The respect I have for Bill is one of a kind. His intelligence, his caring spirit, his motivation to teach and help others was amazing. His many talents, his patience, his motivation for life and his strength to never give up. A true inspiration to say the least. An amazing husband and father. Bill had the ability, even in the last stages of his disease, to make you feel confident and happy in his presence. You will be greatly, greatly missed. My heart aches knowing I can not see you again. But I know at this time you are no longer in pain, that you are at complete peace. It was a complete honor to have been a part of your life, even if it were for only two short years. I will never forget you.

  13. Betty Burpee says:

    Bill you will be missed more than you can imagine. I loved how much you knew about Jazz and Shakespeare and could answer questions about musicians or English with ease as we waited patiently for your responses . My granddaughter Brooke loved making cards for your or getting to read to you. The special twinkle in those Irish Eyes and your radiant smile conveyed so much even when you had difficulty talking . Your love of life and your stamina and love of family was obvious inspiring many Your neighbors Betty& Dick Burpee & granddaughter Brooke

  14. Jay McCarthy says:

    How do I begin? Whenever I think of Bill, I think of a man of letters. I remember the man who could discuss Shakespeare and the infield fly rule in the same conversation. The man who I was fortunate to have as a professor many years ago who would engage in dialogue about the impact of The Beatles in modern literature – this would include a spirited discussion of the lyrics to “Eleanor Rigby”.
    The man who would gather the wee ones for a seriously competitive game of whiffle ball in the back yard of 27 Griggs Street.
    The man who would then sit and sip a beer or two with you and just laugh while he relaxed.
    Thank you, Bill, for being a part of my life.
    I’ll always treasure your mentorship throughout our time together and I’ll never forget you.

  15. Stephanie and Jeff Sgroi says:

    Bill you will be missed!! We were so glad mom had such a wonderful partner. We will always remember your visit to North Carolina on Thanksgiving. God bless. Love, Stef and Jeff

Write a Condolence

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *