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William B. Bristol ( North Cascades 1945 )

posted: Aug 15, 2020

Bill was born April 13, 1915, and died October 24, 2003, at age 88 in Schenectady, New York. He grew up in Germantown, PA, and graduated from Gettysburg College in 1936 before moving on to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate study. He taught 1939-40 at the University of Puerto Rico before being inducted into the Civilian Public Service in 1942.

Bill joined the smokejumpers for the 1945 season. "After training at Nine Mile, I was one of about ten jumpers who made the unit at Twisp. I made a total of seven training and three fire jumps. One day in our barracks in Twisp one of the fellows was reading a statistical report on the educational background of smokejumpers. Suddenly exclaimed, 'one guy has 20 years of education.' I concluded that I was that guy."

After graduating from Gettysburg College, he earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. He was a visiting professor at the University of Puerto Rico for one year and taught at Princeton University before coming to Union College in 1948 to teach Latin American History.

Professor Bristol traveled extensively in Central and South America. He made several trips to pursue research on protestant missionary activities in Colombia and investigated fruit companies in Costa Rica and Honduras. Professor Bristol led several Union College student groups to Bogota, Colombia. He wrote a monograph about Cuba for the American Friends Service Committee and reviewed more than 45 books for Choice, a leader in academic reviews. He was a frequent speaker locally on non-violence and on Latin American topics.