Photography

William Carr Birthisel

January 10, 1949 ~ October 20, 2021 (age 72)

Obituary

William “Bill” Carr Birthisel passed away on October 20th, 2021.  Age 72, he suffered a stroke the morning of October 18th at his home in Cumberland, Maine.  His family gathered to be near him through his final days, sharing the laughter, banter and favorite hymns he relished - and were singing to him by his side at his passing.

Bill’s life was animated by twin passions: knowledge and compassion. The former led him to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, where he found joy through understanding. He spoke fondly of his time there, which formed the roots of life-long friendships and connections to the campus community, particularly via his work with the alumni network.

Upon graduating from MIT, he went on to study theology at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, IL, before ultimately being lured back to his first passion and beginning his career as an engineer.  He relished solving problems in any form.  His experience developing software used in the manufacture of jet engines opened the door to private consulting for Pratt & Whitney and other firms, as well as international travel.

Bill adored time with his family, including his wife, Karen; daughters Sonja Birthisel of Orono, ME, and Krissy (Zane) Thistleford, of Leominster, MA; and his son George (Jessica) Birthisel, of Brockton, MA, who are the parents of his four cherished grandsons: Keegan, Johann, Tully and Olin Birthisel. He’s also survived by a brother Bob (Betty) Birthisel of Charlotte, NC.

Caring for his family allowed Bill to weave both of his passions together, patiently answering questions with equal gusto and rigor – and in cases that touched on the various injustices of the world this could lead to tearfully nuanced answers that drew deeply upon his twin wells of knowledge and compassion.  His family will treasure memories of Bill’s jovial good nature, can-do spirit and broad sense of humor that ranged from the esoteric to the goofy.

He was a devoted member of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland, ME, where he met and married his wife, Karen, sang in the choir, and served for many years on the Church Council. He also greatly enjoyed spending time at Camp Calumet Lutheran Ministries in Ossipee, NH, where he was likely to be found reading on the beach or playing on the playground, first with his children, then grandchildren.

He grew increasingly active in local politics and community service efforts later in life. In his retirement, he served on the Credentials Committee and as Treasurer for the Maine Democratic Party in Cumberland County, and volunteered with many area groups including 350 Maine, and the Maine state high school robotics competitions.

In lieu of flowers, you are invited to make a donation in Bill’s name to Lutheran World Relief or Camp Calumet Lutheran Ministries. A brief memorial will take place during St. Ansgar’s Sunday service on November 7th (All Saint’s Day). An additional celebration of life will be planned for the spring, details TBA.

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