William “Bill” Vensel

| February 16, 2016

William-Vensel-1455297308[1]William “Bill” Vensel, 75, passed away on February 9, 2016 in Oakland, CA as a result of a stroke.

Bill was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1941. His father, Richard, was a dentist; his mother, the former Sarah Collner, an elementary school teacher. He grew up in St. Petersburg, PA and the Mt. Lebanon area of Pittsburgh and graduated in 1959 from Mt. Lebanon High School. After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1963 from Thiel College in Greenville, PA he received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas.

He held several research posts at places including the University of Iowa and Northwestern University in Chicago before settling in Berkeley, California where he remained at the US Department of Agriculture as a research chemist.

He took great pride in his profession and worked in the Western Regional Research Center in Albany within the Crop Improvement and Genetics laboratory focused on protein sequencing. He spent the last 33 years so dedicated to work, he chose to continue with it well after he was eligible to retire.

In a scientific career that spanned five decades, he authored or co-authored 60 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals including the Journal of Cereal Science, Proteome Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA.

Most of his research contributions were in protein chemistry and were both innovative and reliable. His publications have been cited hundreds of times; they comprise his scientific legacy. He was invited to present his work at several national and international conferences. Colleagues actively sought his expertise in proteomics and protein chemistry and he often had productive collaborations with scientists from U.S. and international research institutions as far away as Italy and South Korea. He gladly shared his expertise with both students and experienced researchers.

Dr. Vensel was twice married and has one daughter from his first marriage to Judith (Bezuska) Vensel of Monessen, PA. He met his long-time wife and companion of 34 years, Anne Ireland in 1982 and married in Red Bluff, CA in 1987. They made their home in Richmond, CA. Both he and Anne enjoyed reading, bird watching, sharing meals with friends and attending the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

He is survived by his wife Anne; daughter Kirsten (Vensel) Thayer; two grandsons, Jackson and Patrick Thayer; brother Douglas Vensel and his niece Michelle Vensel.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 20th at 11:00 am, Sunset View Mortuary Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Sierra Club.

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Category: Obituaries