William Lee Tidwell, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Visalia. He was 91.
Bill was born January 14, 1926. He attended the University of South Carolina, where he joined the Navy ROTC.
He was called to active duty as a sophomore, then returned in 1945 to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He graduated at the age of 19, then was commissioned as an ensign and ordered to the USS Colorado to take part in the Battle of Okinawa (April 1, 1945-June 22, 1945). After the war ended, he served on the USS Iowa.
Bill met his wife, Lou, while the Iowa was in Seattle, Wash. After a three-month courtship, the couple married in 1946.
They decided Bill would refuse a U.S. Navy appointment and instead accept a teaching assistanceship at the University of Hawaii while simultaneously working toward his Master’s degree in Bacteriology. While studying in Hawaii, Bill worked with the visiting chair of the Biology Department at UCLA.
After graduating from the University of Hawaii, Bill was accepted into the Microbiology Program at UCLA, completing his Ph.D. in three years. After graduating from UCLA, Bill was hired in 1955 by San Jose State University. He taught in the Biology Department for 33 years, until his retirement in 1988.
During this time, Bill continued in the Naval Reserve, retiring after 30 years of service with the rank of captain.
Following retirement, Bill and Lou moved to Three Rivers, where they enjoyed an active retirement. They traveled extensively to Dixieland jazz concerts across the U.S. and Europe.
Bill served on numerous community and church committees while in Three Rivers, including serving as an elder at Community Presbyterian Church and serving terms as president of both the Three Rivers Memorial District and Sierra Traditional Jazz Club. He enjoyed additional service with the Kaweah Land Trust, Three Rivers Lions Club, and Woodlake Union High School Foundation.
One of his greatest joys while living in Three Rivers was celebrating Jazzaffair annually with friends and family.
Bill is survived by his wife of 71 years, Lou. And he passed on a genuine love of nature, service, and spiritual and intellectual growth to generations of students and to his son, Paul, a professor of Language Arts at College of the Sequoias in Visalia; his grandsons, Colin (an Honor’s College Scholar at the University of Arizona), and Philip, along with Philip’s wife Penelope and their children, James and Josephine of Richmond, Va., each of whom embody his rich legacy according to their own very special talents and individual gifts.
The family is planning a memorial service at First Congregational Church in Tulare. The date and time will be announced.