William Lee Bynum

November 22, 2020
William Lee Bynum

William Lee Bynum died Sunday, November 22, 2020, at Patriots Colony Convalescent Center from complications of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. He was born June 28, 1936 in Carlsbad, New Mexico to Charles William Wesley Bynum and Jeffie Lee Bynum. He is survived by his widow Mary Ann Bynum and sisters, Mollie Beth Bynum of Anchorage Alaska and Sallie Belle Bynum of Irving, Texas.

While attending Carlsbad High School, he played saxophone in the Carlsbad High School band as well as in a trumpet, saxophone, and piano trio to earn spending money. After graduating from Carlsbad High School in 1953, he attended Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. From 1957 to 1962 he worked at Bell Helicopter in Hurst, Texas. There he performed the stress analysis on the tail boom of the original HU-1 helicopter, which saw service in the Vietnam War. While living in Fort Worth, he sang in the Central Methodist Church choir, where he met his wife, and studied cello with Harriet Woldt. In 1962, he left Bell Helicopter to attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina where he graduated with a PhD in Mathematics in 1966. After teaching three years at Louisiana State University in Baton Route, he joined the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at The College of William and Mary in 1969, retiring as a full professor in 2001. He continued to teach there as an adjunct professor until 2006. His research area during his tenure in the mathematics department was Banach Spaces. He served as chairman of the department from 1979 through 1983. In 1984, the mathematics department divided into the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Computer Science. After he joined the Department of Computer Science, he concentrated on computer operating systems, and developed the Robotics Laboratory to teach the principles of software development for robotic systems, using simple hardware kits developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a project which united his engineering and mathematics background.

As the son of musical parents, Bill had a lifelong love of music. He sang with the Williamsburg Choral Guild in Williamsburg. In 1987, at the urging of Richard Carr, Williamsburg Arts Center Director, Bill organized the founding of the Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg (CMSW) and served as its first president. The CMSW continues to present concerts at the Williamsburg Library at a low cost to the community. He served as a head usher at the Bruton Parish Church Candlelight Concerts, as page turner at the 11:00 a.m. service of Bruton Parish Church, and sorted and filed the choir music. He also served on the Bruton Parish Church Library Committee.

A service celebrating the life of William Lee Bynum will be held Thursday, December 10, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. at Bruton Parish Church with burial in the churchyard. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, attendance is limited. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Bruton Parish Church, P.O. Box 3520, Williamsburg, VA, 23187-3520 or The Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg, P.O. Box 1526, Williamsburg, VA 23187-1526.


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  • December 05, 2020
    Dave Sobel, W&M '97 says:
    Professor Bynum left a lasting, life altering impression on my life. I will never forget his classes, and in particular his Computer Organization, of which is self-published and so called "Magnum Opus" was the centerpiece. His enthusiasm for the topic and the class was tangible, from his clear pride in the effort of the work to his distinctive yell of "Victory!" with arms and V-shaped pose from the front of the class. I was lucky enough to have him as a my advisor, a title he was generous enough to continue to honor even after graduation, giving early (and very correct) career guidance. Academically, his teachings are my favorite from my time at W&M, and his Magnum Opus still sits on my shelf as the one college textbook I saved because of its memories. My condolences on the family's loss, and know that his spirit will live on in the students he impacted and the difference he made.

  • December 18, 2020
    Clarke Morledge says:
    Hi, Mary Ann. Very sorry to hear about Bill. I always enjoyed times together with him, though they were brief.