Professor Emeritus William McFarlane Dies

Posted: January 31, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

William H. McFarlane, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, died on Jan. 26 at the age of 83. He had Parkinson’s disease.

McFarlane, who joined the faculty of George Mason in 1968, had an 18-year career at the university. In 1974, McFarlane founded and chaired the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He served as chair of the Arts and Sciences faculty and its Committee on Academic Policies and Planning. He was also instrumental in the development of degree programs in philosophy, art, and music at George Mason.

According to long-time friend and colleague, Robert Hawkes, History and Art History, McFarlane was a faculty leader and a peacemaker. “I respected him immensely,” Hawkes says. “He had a broad and knowledgeable experience base from which to draw when advising others. He offered honest and well-reasoned advice to all who sought his counsel.”

Even after his retirement in 1986, McFarlane remained involved with the university. He began a project to record the history of George Mason from its early days as a two-year community college through its evolution to a university. The product of his effort is a collection known as “The McFarlane Papers,” which is in Special Collections and Archives in the Fenwick Library. And in 1988, he returned to the university for a year to become acting chair of his former department.

McFarlane had his undergraduate and PhD degrees from the University of Virginia, where he also worked and taught before coming to Mason. He also served in the Army Air Corps.

McFarlane is survived by his wife, Shirley, of West Paris, Me.; a son and three daughters; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. The family suggests that memorials be sent to Maine Veterans Home of South Paris, Me., where he spent his last days.

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