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William Ewell
William Ewell

Obituary of William Sleight Ewell

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of William “Bill” Sleight Ewell who went on to a better place on September 4, 2023. Bill is survived by his wife of 58 years Suzanne Elizabeth Ewell, his three sons Glenn (Lyn) Ewell, Wm. Todd (Jacquie) Ewell, and Chad (Nora) Ewell, grandchildren Elijah Seeley, Lauren Ewell, Christopher Ewell, Liam Ewell, Quinn Ewell, Matthew Ewell, Bryce Ewell, and Avery Ewell, and his sister Cynthia (Jack) Hay

Bill was born on May 16, 1941 to parents Leonora Sleight Ewell and Glenn Henry Ewell, growing up in the Town of Irondequoit, NY.  Challenged as a youth due to the untimely passing of his father when only 4 years old and the medical diagnosis of Perthes hip disease, much of his childhood was spent in leg casts, wheelchairs, and on crutches.  Without the ability to play outside like most kids his age, his mother purchased him a dachshund dog, commonly known as a wiener dog.  It was Bill’s loyal companion over many years.  So strong a bond formed that having a wiener dog around became a personal passion.  Bill was rarely without his dog throughout his life.  His medical situation, while improving over time, made it impossible to attend school.  With only a single parent who needed to work, and home schooling not common in the 1940’s, Bill did not start formal education until age 8.  Shortly after starting school Bill became aware of the Scouting program.  Having missed out on much of the outdoors and camping opportunities as a young boy, Bill was eager to join the local Scout Troop.  Thus began his trail through the Scout ranks and merit badges – forging a lifelong interest in camping and the outdoors.  Certainly for Bill it was not an easy program noting his physical challenges and late start to formal education, however he persevered.  He was determined to move through the ranks and earn all the merit badges required to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.  This included Hiking merit badge where he completed numerous multi-mile hikes and even climbed one mountain in the Adirondacks – all on crutches.  Bill earned the rank of Eagle Scout just before his high school graduation.  Rehabilitation for his hips and legs continued with medical professionals recommending that he take up swimming to strengthen his leg muscles.  He became an excellent swimmer and was eventually able to move completely off of the crutches.  Thus began a lifelong affair with water in every respect; academically, scientifically, and recreationally.  Educationally Bill made significant advancements, especially in the sciences.  By the time he had reached graduation from West Irondequoit High School in 1960, he had been awarded a full scholarship to Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY.  Bill undertook a Pre-med program with an emphasis in the Biological Sciences.  He worked summers at the Rochester Museum and Science Center and at the Seneca Park Zoo, driven by his interest in Biology and scientific studies.  He progressed through his studies at Hartwick College, maintained his scholarship, joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and met his future bride Suzanne Elizabeth Gruber.  Upon graduation from Hartwick College in 1964, he took a job with the Eastman Kodak Company, married Suzanne, and built a house in Greece, NY.  Bill joined the Rochester Aquarians dive club and was an active scuba diver for many years.  Over time, the focus of the toxicological testing he was engaged with at Eastman Kodak shifted from mammalian species to aquatic species.  Bill’s career accelerated as he had both an education and a  personal interest in aquatic species.  Bill was a founding member of the SETAC organization – the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.  Per the organization website: “SETAC was founded in the late 1970s to be a forum for interdisciplinary communication among environmental scientists – biologists, chemists, toxicologists – as well as managers and engineers and others interested in environmental issues. SETAC was incorporated in Washington, DC, USA, in 1979 and soon grew to be a global entity.”.  Bill represented Eastman Kodak to SETAC for many years – authoring technical papers and presenting scientific findings at conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada.  His interests in scuba diving, camping, canoeing, biking, cross-country skiing, and fishing provided purpose to his scientific research of aquatic species and the habitats in which they live. Bill and Suzanne raised three boys at their Greece, NY home, going on camping adventures every summer.  From trips to Fish Creek Ponds in the Adirondacks to extended multi-week trips out West to visit the National Parks.  Bill Ewell was a true embodiment of the environmental sciences he pursued throughout his career with a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for all the beauty nature has to offer.

A public Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held at the Ogden Presbyterian Church, 2400 South Union Street, Spencerport, NY, on Saturday September 30th at 11:00AM with a Reception to follow immediately afterwards.  We ask that any Donations, on behalf of the memory of Bill Ewell, be provided to the Seneca Park Zoo or to the Rochester Museum and Science Center – both organizations close to his heart over many years.



Celebration of Life

11:00 am
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Ogden Presbyterian Church
2400 South Union St.
Spencerport, New York, United States
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