Dr. William Shuler, a resident of Port Angeles, Washington, was killed in an accident Wednesday evening, March 10, 2021, near his home. He was 81.
Bill was born Dec. 5, 1939, to William Reeves Shuler and Marjorie Elizabeth Beeuwkes, in Berkeley, California. Bill was well traveled as the son of a of U.S. Army major general. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, with a BS, MA and PhD in physics, studying both astrophysics and high energy experimental physics.
He married Jean Wilkinson, also a William and Mary graduate, in 1963. In 1968, they moved to Livermore when Bill joined the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. He worked as a design physicist until 1972, making significant contributions to the understanding of one of the laboratory’s early important Navy submarine-launched ballistic missile programs. From 1972 to 1974, he worked on the staff of the associate director as the responsible individual for strategic offensive weapons, and later as project manager for the large advanced ballistic re-entry vehicle. In 1980, Shuler was named associate director for military applications, overseeing the lab’s nuclear weapon development program, including the lab’s non-nuclear support of the Department of Defense.
He also served as a member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and was extensively involved in the laboratory’s response to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
After his divorce during this period, he married Billie Jean Staehle in 1991. In 1991, Bill accepted an assignment with the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., providing direction to all of the department’s programs chemical, nuclear and biological weapon proliferation.
Bill was extremely engaging, gregarious, well rounded, athletic, and able to both see the big picture and focus on getting the details correct. He was generous with his time and advice, helping mentor many younger lab associates. While at Livermore, Bill could often be seen playing basketball, jogging, or biking at noon. He also loved skiing, backpacking, rock climbing, water skiing, and playing his guitar, often in the company of Lab friends. He often said, “While I’m climbing and backpacking, I have a chance to think about the miraculous, to be out in the night air and looking up at an infinity of stars.” He loved exploring the night sky with his telescopes.
Bill retired from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1997 and spent several years sailing around the Caribbean before settling near Sequim, Washington. In retirement, Bill and his wife Billie Jean were members of Sequim Community Church in Sequim, where they started and taught Bible study for young Christian members, and they volunteered at local soup kitchens. Bill also organized and taught a class on rocketry.
Bill will be missed by all of many friends. He leaves behind his wife, Billie Jean Shuler of Washington; his son, Joseph Shuler of Washington; his sister, Leslie Shuler Blain of Oregon; granddaughter, Shelby Fuchs of Arizona; and Jean Shuler of Livermore. The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to Alzheimer’s Association.