The youngest of six children, William Delamar was born on December 15, 1927, and grew up in Durham, NC. ‘Billy’ and his next older brother, Chris, were close and encouraged each other’s mischief effectively. They used to go to the Baptist church down the street because there were doughnuts. Their parents were Episcopalian, but they didn’t mind the boys going to the Baptist church. It got them out from underfoot. Billy and Chris had contests to see who could eat the most doughnuts. The church let them, probably thinking they’d at least learn about the Lord while they were there. Bill told how he sang in Sunday school, “Yes, Jesus loves me, He is weak but we are strong.” The teacher was not amused. They sat at the back of the sanctuary and rolled acorns under the pews to see if they could hit the wood riser at the front.
A depression-era kid, he learned early the value of a penny, particularly when he lost his father at age 11. He got his first job at 14 in an ice cream shop and turned over his earnings to his mom to help with family expenses. Not long after that, he was hired at Duke University as an aide in the library. His job was to deliver books and papers to various university professors and to help the woman running the library in any way he could. He told a story about how his boss, Exie Duncan, liked to feed the squirrels, especially one named Pee Wee, until he bit her hand as she held out a peanut to him. The university blog archives still carry a news article on this stunning event.
He had a one-day job in 1942, the one and only time that the Rose Bowl was not played in Pasadena. Because of the attack on Pearl Harbor less than a month before, the game was moved to Duke, where he and several of his buddies were hired to sell bottled sodas to the crowd. He sold a few sodas, and as soon as the game started, sat down and enjoyed every minute, selling additional sodas only to himself.
At 17, he decided he would join the Navy. A string bean kid, he didn’t weigh enough and was rejected. Determined, he went back and was rejected again. He was told he needed to gain 15 pounds. On the morning of his next attempt, he ate 15 pounds of bananas. The doctor kept poking his protruding stomach and finally said, “anyone who wants to get into the Navy that bad, I will accept!” He was trained as a meteorologist and spent the war mostly in Bermuda, far from battle activity. It was a tough assignment, but he “weathered” it out.
After his stint with the Navy, he enrolled at Pitt University, near one of his sisters with whom he lived. In those days, many colleges had “tall clubs.” Students had to be at least 5’ 10” to join. He joined the Tip Toppers. One evening, his club had a dance party with another tall club from the campus, the Star Dusters, where he met his wife-to-be, Gloria. Not long afterwards, they were both leaving a campus building at the same time and he made a disparaging remark about her beloved Pitt football team. She handed him her pile of books and said, “Here, hold these.” She then proceeded to playfully slap him in the face and calmly take her books back. That was the moment they knew they were meant for each other. Married at Heinz Chapel on campus in 1951, they went on to have 5 children.
Bill Delamar graduated as an English major, but by a series of connections and flukes, ended up being offered a job in hospital management. He eventually earned a master’s degree in hospital administration and instituted important changes in how hospitals would be run for years to come. He was one of the first members of HIMSS (Hospital Information Management Systems Society) and received a special award a few years ago recognizing his contributions to what has now become an international guidance organization for hospitals.
He was hired as a hospital administrator at MCV hospital in Richmond, VA in 1967, where one of his first actions was to close the segregated ER for people of color, not only shutting its doors but having renovation done so it could never serve its previous purpose again. Forever after, all patients were treated in the same ER. While in Virginia, he and his wife, Gloria, were active in the Unitarian Church, which began the Richmond Public Forum, now known as the Richmond Forum. They rubbed shoulders with a number of dignitaries and helped bring fascinating, educational, and entertaining guests to Richmond.
After 10 years with MCV, Bill accepted a job in Philadelphia. There, he served at Einstein Hospital, Temple University Hospital, and Metropolitan Hospital, making vital changes in each. At retirement, not being one to actually retire, he began a consulting business for hospitals and other organizations needing help with reformatting their business models. He and Gloria were active in the Unitarian Society of Germantown, both serving as board members multiple times.
He was a diligent writer and has several published novels: The Hidden Congregation, Patients in Purgatory, and The CareTakers — all published by Open Road Media. His other novel, published by Rogue Phoenix Press, The Brother Voice, is a work of well-researched historical fiction about twin brothers during the Civil War, one fighting for the south and one for the north. He and his wife were active in the Philadelphia Writer’s Club, both serving on the board in various capacities.
In 2016, he lost his beloved wife of 55 years. He was eventually persuaded by his daughter Keltcie to move to Virginia to live with his youngest daughter Keallie and her husband. He was with them for 3 years and was active, working on a sequel to one of his novels, enjoying his great-grandchildren, and entertaining the family with many stories from his childhood.
William T Delamar passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, November 20, 2022. He was less than a month away from his 95th birthday. He is survived by all of his children: Graelie, Keltcie, Keallie, Dawson, and Crohan; two of his grandchildren, Hayley and Stephen; and two great-grandchildren, Winnie and King. He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Gloria, all of his siblings, and one of his grandchildren, Trevor. He is now at peace.
~Written/edited by daughters Keallie Wozny and Keltcie Delamar.