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William B. “Bill” Bristol ( North Cascades 1945 )

posted: Aug 15, 2020

Bill was born April 13, 1915, and died October 24, 2003, at age 88. 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 his discharge, Bill finished up his Ph.D. and taught history at Princeton. In 1948 he took a teaching position at Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he taught until retirement in 1985.