William H. Engler, age 80, died August 17, 2019, at Princeton Medical Center. He had been a resident of West Windsor since 1970.
Born in New York City in 1938 to Lena and Ludwig Engler, he attended Friends Seminary in New York City and then Columbia University, where he was on the varsity cross country track team. He graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in English and then went on to complete a master’s degree in English at the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
In 1969, he began teaching English and communications at Mercer County Community College, where he remained until his retirement in 2004. While teaching full time, he completed a doctor of education degree at Rutgers University in 1973, receiving the award for the best doctoral thesis that year from the Graduate School of Education. His thesis topic was “Radical School Reformers of the 1960’s.” He then went on to teach part-time at the graduate school for several years.
During his distinguished career at Mercer County Community College, he served as chair of the Academic Skills Department and was the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award. One of his proudest moments was serving as president of the Faculty Association in the late 1980s, a position he held during the college’s one and only labor strike.
Bill was a dedicated teacher who loved the art of teaching and his students knew that. With humor and wit, he taught all students, from those enrolled in basic English courses to those in advanced literature, to think and write clearly and to love reading in the process. He served as a role model for his colleagues, whom he regaled at the lunch table with vibrant and hilarious conversation. Lunch with Bill was the absolute high point of everyone’s day.
During his life time, Bill faced many health challenges, foremost of which was multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed in his mid-20’s. With the same characteristic determination he displayed in his life, he devoted himself to “beating” the disease by exercising vigorously and leading a healthy lifestyle. He rode his bicycle thousands of miles and rowed on his rowing machine for almost as many. He served as an inspiration to all who knew him, including his wife Francine of 55 years and his daughters, Marcy Engler of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Deborah Engler, of Wakefield, Massachusetts.
He leaves behind two beloved grandsons, Brendan Engler-DeSpain and Asher Ekberg, both of whom inherited his love of storytelling and his witty sense of humor. Bill reveled in spending time with his family this past June in Raleigh by participating in Brendan’s Bar Mitzvah,
where he shared his Jewish heritage with his grandson by presenting him with a tallit. In typical fashion, Bill "held court" at the Bar Mitzvah lunch, regaling all in attendance.
Funeral services were held August 22 at Star of David Memorial Chapel of Princeton, with Rabbi Robert Freedman conducting the service. Burial of ashes took place at Princeton Cemetery. Donations may be made in Bill’s memory to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Donate