Tidwell, William L. (1926-2017)

Tidwell, William L. (1926-2017)

Date Updated



Biology (Microbiology)

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

UCLA, 1951 Ph.D.

University of Hawaii, 1948 M.S.

University of South Carolina, 1945 B.S.

Teaching Experience

San José State, 1955-1988

Texas A & M, 1951-1955

Teaching Asst., UCLA, 1948-1951

Teaching Asst., Hawaii, 1946-1948

Administrative and Professional Experience

Active Duty - U.S. Navy 1943-1946

Reserve Time - U.S. Navy 1946-1986. Retired as Navy Captain.

Selected Publications

Five articles on water and sewage bacteriology.

General Bacteriology Laboratory Manual. Self-published by SJSU Bookstore, sold at cost.

Personal Commentary

Bill was born at home on a cotton-mill village, where his paternal grandfather was the superintendent. Unfortunately, his grandfather died within two years and in three years, the "Great Depression" had hit. Unemployment and eviction sent the family to Rock Hill, SC, where his dad had found a 20 cents per hour job as night watchman and boiler keeper. By working 80 hour weeks, they managed to get by.

He graduated from Rock Hill High in 1942 at age 16. He went off to the University and the Naval ROTC. After one year, he was called to active Navy duty and returned to USC, with all expenses paid for a double-major, trimester program. In February 1945, Bill was graduated in Biology and commissioned an Ensign at age 19. He was ordered to the U.S.S. Colorado to take part in the battle at Okinawa. After the war ended, he served on the U.S.S. Iowa.

Bill and his future wife met while the Iowa was in Seattle, WA. After a three-month courtship, they decided that he would refuse a USN appointment and accept a TA job at the Univ. of Hawaii while getting a Master's and they would get married. It all happened. While in Hawaii, he served as an assistant to the visiting UCLA department chair. Upon graduation, at his invitation, they followed him to UCLA. Three years later the Ph.D. was won and teaching at Texas A&M for four years followed (1951-1955).

Fortunately, a persistent effort to come to San Jose State College paid off in 1955. There he remained until retirement in 1988. He participated in many, many facets of life at SJSU including the Faculty Council, Academic Senate (Chairman) and Interim Chairman of Biology for almost two years. He was the CSEA Chapter President, Regional Director, Staff Member (on leave for two years appearing before the Legislature, Trustees, etc. for the system-wide faculty) and Chairman for several years of the statewide Legislative Committee (which dealt with legislation and political action). When collective bargaining became imminent, he served on the committee which created CFA, and then served as State Vice President and Legislative Committee Chairman of CFA.

Bill was an enthusiastic teacher. He taught freshmen to graduate major's courses, general education, and preparation for majors and majors. His principal assignment was in teaching microbiology to nursing and dietetics majors. He was especially proud of having two of his students later serve as chairs of the Nursing Department.

Bill continued in the Naval Reserve for over 30 years, retiring as a Captain. He was also very active in his church, serving as Moderator of the church and as President of the Valley Village Retirement Community.

Retirement included getting out of the traffic hassle by moving to Three Rivers, CA --the foothills entrance to Sequoia National Park. Dixieland jazz introduced them to that area and they continue following that interest locally and at festivals around the world.

Date Completed: 7/96;updated 12/10

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Tidwell, William L. (1926-2017)