Legendary Ski Coach & Hall Of Famer MacConnell Passes Away
April 13, 2007
AMHERST, Mass. - William P. MacConnell, '43, professor emeritus of Forestry and legendary ski coach William P. MacConnell, 88, of Amherst, professor emeritus of Forestry, former ski coach and alumnus, died March 17 at home.
He was born in Odell River, New Brunswick and his family moved to Westboro, where he graduated from high school in 1937. Following two additional years of secondary schooling at Mount Hermon School, he enrolled at Massachusetts State College in Amherst, where he graduated in 1943 and was immediately drafted into the Army.
After the war, he attended Yale University on the G.I. bill and earned a master's degree in forestry in 1948. Later that year, he accepted a teaching position at his alma mater, now the University of Massachusetts. He was promoted to professor in 1963.
His areas of expertise were aerial photogrammetry and remote sensing, forest and watershed management, and geographic information systems.
In 1957 and 1967, he was recognized as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year in the College of Agriculture. He also received an award for outstanding papers from the American Society of Photogrammetry in 1980.
He retired from the faculty in 1997, but continued to be active in the department.
He was also the mainstay of the campus's intercollegiate ski program for 41 years. He began coaching the men's team in 1960 and then added the women's team in 1976. He led both squads until 2001 and during his time at the helm, his teams captured 30 divisional titles, 18 men's and 12 women's. From 1968-86, a span of 18 straight seasons, the men's program won its division every year, and since 1986, it was either second or third in its division each year. Under his leadership, the women's team captured 11 consecutive division titles from 1976-86 and added another division crown in 1991.
He was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
In 1989, he established a $250,000 endowment to fund a professorship in his department. The first appointment to the William P. MacConnell Endowed Professorship in Forest Management was made in 2001. The same year, he and another retired faculty member also donated 234 acres of forest in Princeton to the University to be used for instruction, research and forest management purposes.
He leaves his wife of 64 years, Shirley; son Peter, of Amherst; and two daughters, Sandy Doolan, of Fletcher, Vt., and Heather Bessey, of Ashland, Maine; seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and two sisters.
All services and burial will be private.
GET YOUR OFFICIAL