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William Dewitt Metz, Dr

William Dewitt Metz, Dr

(1914-2013) ~ Inducted 2016

William DeWitt Metz was born in Buffalo, New York on June 13, 1914 to William J. and Minerva (Lamphear) Metz and was raised in the village of Perry, New York, about 50 miles east of Buffalo. Metz prepared for college at Dexter High School in Maine and graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1937. He subsequently earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1945. Then, he accepted a position in the history department of the University of Rhode Island and spent the rest of his academic career with that department. He retired in 1982 as Professor Emeritus of History. In the forty-five years that Metz was a teacher at the University of Rhode Island, he served his academic community and the citizens of the state in numerous ways. Professor Metz published many articles on Rhode Island history, served as editor of the Phi Alpha Theta Society's journal, T^e H~istor~ian, and was an abstracter for Historical Abstracts. He also worked on many university committees. But the activities of Professor Metz extended beyond the university campus. In 1958 he was a founding member, and later served as president, of the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society Museum. In that capacity he was instrumental in acquiring the Washington County Jail for the home of the society. He was also active with the Cocumscussoc Association and gave numerous talks on Rhode Island history throughout the state. Professor Metz was the first chairman of the South Kingstown Historic District Commission, chairman of the South Kingstown Bicentennial Commission, and founding member of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. In 1977, he was elected to head the prestigious Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities. After his retirement from the University of Rhode Island in 1982, Metz was instrumental in establishing the South County Museum in Narragansett. The State of Rhode Island recognized Metz in 1997 for his lifelong community service by conferring upon him the states highest historic preservation honor — the Antoinette F. Volunteer Service Award. During the mid-20th century Professor Metz was regarded as the “dean” of Rhode Island historians. He directed his students in the writing of numerous research papers and masters theses on Rhode Island, that illuminated many aspects of our states history. At his passing on February 11, 2013 at the age of 98, state historian laureate Dr. Patrick Conley published a tribute that began as follows: “With the death of Dr. William Metz, South County has lost a cultural treasure and a beacon into its past. Bill, working in tandem with the late Leona Kelley and Lucy Rawlings Tootell, gave southern Rhode Island an historical triumvirate unequaled by any other area of Rhode Island. Former U.S. House Speaker “Tip” O'Neill was fond of saying that “All politics is local.” If that aphorism can also be applied to history, then the contributions of teachers, preservationists, and writers such as Bill Metz are the foundation of our historical knowledge. His work survives him.” William DeWitt Metz was born in Buffalo, New York on June 13, 1914 to William J. and Minerva (Lamphear) Metz and was raised in the village of Perry, New York, about 50 miles east of Buffalo. Metz prepared for college at Dexter High School in Maine and graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1937. He subsequently earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1945. Then, he accepted a position in the history department of the University of Rhode Island and spent the rest of his academic career with that department. He retired in 1982 as Professor Emeritus of History. In the forty-five years that Metz was a teacher at the University of Rhode Island, he served his academic community and the citizens of the state in numerous ways. Professor Metz published many articles on Rhode Island history, served as editor of the Phi Alpha Theta Society's journal, T^e H~istor~ian, and was an abstracter for Historical Abstracts. He also worked on many university committees. But the activities of Professor Metz extended beyond the university campus. In 1958 he was a founding member, and later served as president, of the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society Museum. In that capacity he was instrumental in acquiring the Washington County Jail for the home of the society. He was also active with the Cocumscussoc Association and gave numerous talks on Rhode Island history throughout the state. Professor Metz was the first chairman of the South Kingstown Historic District Commission, chairman of the South Kingstown Bicentennial Commission, and founding member of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. In 1977, he was elected to head the prestigious Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities. After his retirement from the University of Rhode Island in 1982, Metz was instrumental in establishing the South County Museum in Narragansett. The State of Rhode Island recognized Metz in 1997 for his lifelong community service by conferring upon him the states highest historic preservation honor — the Antoinette F. Volunteer Service Award. During the mid-20th century Professor Metz was regarded as the “dean” of Rhode Island historians. He directed his students in the writing of numerous research papers and masters theses on Rhode Island, that illuminated many aspects of our states history. At his passing on February 11, 2013 at the age of 98, state historian laureate Dr. Patrick Conley published a tribute that began as follows: “With the death of Dr. William Metz, South County has lost a cultural treasure and a beacon into its past. Bill, working in tandem with the late Leona Kelley and Lucy Rawlings Tootell, gave southern Rhode Island an historical triumvirate unequaled by any other area of Rhode Island. Former U.S. House Speaker “Tip” O'Neill was fond of saying that “All politics is local.” If that aphorism can also be applied to history, then the contributions of teachers, preservationists, and writers such as Bill Metz are the foundation of our historical knowledge. His work survives him.”


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