Obituary: William L. Kilmer, Professor Emeritus of Electrical, Computer Engineering

William L. Kilmer
William L. Kilmer

William L. Kilmer, 84, of Amherst, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, died March 16.

Born July 5, 1932, he was raised in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. He attended Pennsylvania State University on a track scholarship and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. He earned his doctorate at the University of Michigan in 1958.

He taught at Montana State, Princeton and Michigan State universities and was a consultant for McDonnnell Aircraft Corp. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory. From 1962-64 he was a research associate in the neurophysiology laboratory at MIT.

His tenure at Michigan State included a professorship in electrical engineering and systems science, as well as associate membership in biophysics.

He joined the electrical and computer engineering department at UMass Amherst in 1971, retired in 2005 and worked through spring 2006 in a post-retirement appointment. His work focused on modeling, simulation and control theory.

His contributions to the advancement of brain science were significant, working in close partnership with the pioneers of neuroscience, at MIT and beyond. Modeling brain activity throughout his career, he focused increasingly on practical robotics.   

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Virginia Large, and children Janice (Gerry), Patti (Wayne) and Cindy (Raed). He was predeceased by his daughter Ellen.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 98 North Maple St., Hadley. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to Wesley United Methodist Church.