Bill Longhurst passed away at home in Sutherlin, Oregon on September 26, 2018, at the age of 100. He was born in 1917, in Oakland, California, to Murray Longhurst and Ruth Berg Longhurst. His family had a home there and he spent much of his childhood there as well as at the family's cattle and sheep ranch in Mackay, Idaho. The family sold the ranch in Idaho, and purchased a ranch in Napa, California, in the 1920s. Bill attended Napa High School, and after graduating from high school, he attended Stanford University, receiving his bachelor's degree in biology, and then attended University of California in Berkeley, receiving his master's degree in Zoology in 1940. During his time at UC Berkeley, he met his future wife Virginia Davidson, also a student at UC Berkeley, and they married in 1940. He was then awarded a scholarship to attend Cornell University in New York and in 1942, earned his doctorate in zoology at the age of 24.
In the summer of 1942, Bill enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was called to active duty in February 1943. In March of 1944, he qualified for his silver wings and 2nd Lt.'s bars. Shortly after D-Day in Europe, after just three weeks checkout training in P-38's, he went overseas. In September of 1944, Bill was assigned to the 429th Fighter Squadron, 474th Fighter Group in France and Belgium. On his 17th mission, on Christmas Day, he was shot down by ground fire, bellied his plane in the forest, and though significantly injured, made his way back through German lines 20 miles to his squadron. By the end of WW II, Bill had flown 62 combat missions. In 1945, Bill was released from active duty.
He then joined the staff at UC Berkeley, and later the staff at UC Davis as a wildlife biologist. While employed with UC Davis, Bill lived in Hopland, CA, and was the resident biologist at the UC Hopland Field station. He was well known for his studies on wildlife, and range land practices. His studies eventually took him to East Africa, where he enjoyed many year-long sabbaticals, doing research on ruminants in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. His family, wife Virginia, and children, Caroline, John, and Marguerite (Maggie) were able to accompany him on his safaris to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Sudan. Bill was a consummate outdoorsman, enjoying hunting and fishing in both the US, Canada and in Africa.
Bill retired from the University of California in 1980, and moved to Roseburg, Oregon. His wife Virginia predeceased him in 1983, and in 1991, he married Florence Jewel Young.
He was predeceased by Jewel in June 2018. His son, John Longhurst, and daughter-in law, Cherril Young Longhurst, also predeceased Bill in February 2018. Bill is survived by his daughter Caroline Merrick in Georgia; and daughter Maggie Cole in Oregon; and by five grandchildren, Christopher Longhurst (Emily), Dana Holve (Matt), Jennifer Cretu (Pete), Jeffrey Cole (Gabrielle), and Brian Cole (Lynnette). He is also survived by six great-grandchildren.
Bill requested that there be no funeral. Instead there will be a memorial gathering in the future, which date has yet to be determined. He will be interred at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, CA, next to his first wife Virginia, and other family members.