On Saturday June 4th, William Lyon (Bill) Roach, loving husband and father passed away at age 77 at his home in Lawrence. He was born July 23, 1944, in Chicago, IL the son of James Markham and Mary Margaret (Lyon) Roach. He grew up in Oak Park, IL and attended the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan graduating with a PhD in Business Administration in 1973.
Bill met his wife Mary on a blind date on New Year’s Eve in Milwaukee. They married on May 13, 1972, and recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They pursued graduate school together in Michigan before moving to Lawrence, KS in 1974. His early career was spent at the University of Kansas and the Kansas Insurance Department. Bill was a business professor at Washburn University for 31 years. In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities, Bill was very active in service to the university community, serving on numerous governance committees both inside and outside the School of Business and acting as an ally for underrepresented students. He received the Student Life Achieving Excellence award in 2014.
Upon retirement in 2014, his work did not stop. He was actively involved in many volunteer and service activities including amateur ratio, Douglas County Emergency Management, LMH Health, and Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) Hospice. In his spare time, he studied Medieval Latin as a hobby and managed to squeeze in the occasional bridge game. He loved random facts, Perry Mason, and abstract algebra lectures on YouTube. “I think I should explain that I have a geek hat trick; I do actuarial science, I do Medieval Latin, I do ham radio. I am very in touch with my inner geek. I’m out and I’m proud,” he said in a final lecture at Washburn after his retirement. He was also a gifted storyteller, appreciated by family and friends for his dry wit, ability to provoke, and hearty laugh. He will be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched.
Survivors include his wife, Mary, daughters Caitlin, Meghan (Jeff) Greiner, Theresa (Bill White), brother James, grandsons Emrys and Owyn Greiner, numerous brothers and sisters in law, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, James, mother, Mary Margaret, and three sisters, Mary Joanne, Margaret, and Elizabeth.
A gathering and celebration of life will be held on Saturday June 11th at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence, KS. Visitation with family and friends will be at 10:00 am with a memorial service to follow at 11:00 am. A mass will be offered in his memory on June 19th at 11:00 am at St. John the Evangelist Church.
While he always said he would like his money left to the Home for Unwed Cats, the family suggests memorials made in Bill’s honor to the ACLU or Douglas County VNA and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary 120 W. 13th St. Lawrence, KS 66044.
The service will be live streamed.