William Preston Eames passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 7th, 2017, at the age of 87, surrounded by family. Bill was reunited after six years with his beloved wife Jane.
Ever kind and gentle, Bill guided us, often without words, in the virtues of humility and humour. He rarely spoke of himself except in glimpses. So we will speak for him…
Bill was born in Minnedosa, Manitoba, on September 21st, 1929, the only child who survived, to Ada Croley and George Eames. Ada was a piano teacher, organist for the local United Church and the President of the Manitoba Music Teachers Association. George was an employee of CP railway. Although Bill never played an instrument he was brought up in a house of music and had a lifelong love of classical music and opera.
During the Depression, Bill’s parents took in and fed many hungry and unemployed men. This interaction with others instilled in Bill an understanding that people who struggle or face hardship do not do so out of choice and that everyone has a story to tell.
The first in his family to go to university and funding himself completely on scholarships, Bill went to Brandon College for chemistry and mathematics. Here he made lifelong friendships, was the class valedictorian and was recognized with many gold medals.
He found he loved the simplicity and creativity of mathematics and went on to University of Manitoba and subsequently to Queens, where he completed his PhD in calculus at the age of 24. He (and friends) also blew off the back wall of Grant Hall the week before graduation in a beer experiment that went wrong.
As part of the first group of international NSERC scholars, Bill moved to London to complete his postdoctoral work at Kings College, University of London. Bill loved the city, the theatre, his Austin Healey, and his pottery teacher, Jane Coles. They married and lived in Blackheath, having two children, Gillian and Madeleine.
In 1966 they moved back to Canada settling in Thunder Bay (Port Arthur), Ontario. Jane, having lived in England her whole life, loved the expanse of the land and the rocky shores of Lake Superior. It was here that Tamsin and David were born.
Bill was Chair of the math department at Lakehead University for many years where he had good friends and colleagues. He inspired many young people with his love of mathematics and creative ways of teaching.
In 1977 Bill and Jane opened Aardvark Pottery, their functional earthenware ceramics studio. It was a house filled with musicians, potters, art, books, photography and sculpture.
The family spent many summers camping across Canada, east and west, in a canvas Woods tent, rain or shine, although Bill would have preferred the occasional hotel.
After his retirement in 1993, Bill and Jane travelled extensively, doing pottery workshops and travelling to Mexico. Bill took a position teaching in Gifu, Japan, for six months where he is remembered for having donned a red curly wig and presented himself as Anne of Green Gables.
After Jane’s death in 2010, Bill lost his enthusiasm for all their shared interests. He moved to Salmon Arm, BC where he lived out his last years.
Bill will always be remembered for his humour, his unlimited generosity and kindness and his quiet determination. He loved his grandchildren and we are lucky they were able to know him and will cherish the memories forever. They will always have their own stories about their “Grumps” or “Dada”.
He will be lovingly remembered by his children, his many grandchildren, extended family in England and friends both near and far.
A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at 4401 – 20th Street NE on Saturday, April 15th, 4:00 – 6:30 pm.
A special thank you to Hillside Lodge Cottage #5, Charlene Zappone and Dr. James Levins.
Online condolences may be sent to Bill’s family through his obituary at www.bowersfuneralservice.com