William Yeaton Stevens, an Area Resident, Dies at 86
William Yeaton Stevens, 86, died on January 12, 2018 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center of complications following a fall. The son of Philip and Eleanore Stevens, Bill was born in South Portland, Maine, on November 5, 1931. He attended South Portland schools and graduated from South Portland High School in June 1949 as Valedictorian of his class. Always inclined towards science and technology, he went on to receive a BS in Physics from Bates College in 1953, and MS and PhD degrees in Engineering Physics from Cornell University in 1955 and 1958.
Immediately after completion of his doctorate at Cornell, Bill joined IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he continued to live and work for the rest of his life, retiring from IBM with the rank of Senior Engineer in May 1993 after nearly 35 years of service. His career at IBM was primarily in the area of system design and architecture of mainframe computers, serving in both staff and management positions. His initial assignment was in the system architecture group for Stretch, an early IBM supercomputer. He was later in a similar group that designed the System 360, which became IBM's dominant mainframe system and is still the design basis for their large server computers. He was the manager of the microprogram control system of the mid-size System 360, Model 50.
It was while on temporary assignment in 1964 to the IBM Development Laboratory in Hursley, England, that Bill met his future wife, Gwendolyn Hamilton, who was travelling on summer vacation from her teaching position in the Music Department of Vassar College. They were married on June 18, 1966, in Pleasant Valley, NY. They had two children, Emily Stevens of Atlanta, GA, and Guy Stevens of Washington, DC. They have one grandson, Oliver Stevens, also of Washington, DC.
Never inclined to pursue prominence in his professional field, Bill devoted much of his energy and spare time to various forms of community service. In high school and college he had been interested in theatrical lighting, so shortly after settling in Poughkeepsie he sought out the newly formed County Players, which he later served as President.
A long standing interest in firefighting techniques led him to join the New Hamburg Fire Department as a volunteer. There he later served both as Fire Chief and as Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners. He had earlier been a volunteer with the Sloper-Willen Ambulance Service.
Bill's wife Gwen had often organized chamber music sessions in their home, and later established Patrons for Young Artists, a group that sponsors concerts by budding professional musicians in various homes. Gwen had wanted to expand this to include performances available to the general public. So, just as Bill was retiring from IBM, they founded the Howland Chamber Music Circle in Beacon. Gwen served as Music Director and Bill as Concert Manager. This turned out to be a very successful enterprise that, with the help of many others, has become a leading cultural organization in the area. After devoting much of his retirement time and energy to it for 23 years, in 2016 they relinquished their positions for others to carry the organization forward.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in his name to Hudson River Housing or the American Friends Service Committee.
Arrangements are under the direction of Straub, Catalano & Halvey Funeral Home, 55 East Main Street in Wappingers Falls. To send the family a personal condolence, please visit our website at www.StraubCatalanoHalvey.com.