Cover photo for William Chancellor's Obituary
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1931 William 2017

William Chancellor

August 25, 1931 — February 16, 2017

Dr. William "Bill" Chancellor, 85, of Davis, passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Sutter Davis Hospital after a long illness. His life and accomplishments affected hundreds of colleagues and students worldwide, leaving a legacy of agricultural advancements and goodwill.

Bill was the husband of Nongkarn Chancellor, with whom he shared 56 years of marriage. He was a highly respected professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis for almost 37 years and remained active in the Department after retirement until his passing.

After receiving a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Masters and Doctorate degrees from Cornell University, Bill joined the Department at UC Davis in 1957. During his long and successful career, he became a global authority on smallholder farm mechanization. His work and teaching covered a wide array of topics, including soil mechanics, vehicle stability and traction, forage harvesting and handling, rice production and processing, economic optimization of farm equipment use, agricultural technology for developing nations, and energy relations in agricultural production.

His early interest in information theory led him to become one of the first to recognize the interconnection and substitutability of information and energy in developing more advanced, efficient, and sustainable food production systems.

With an encyclopedic knowledge of virtually all topics in the agricultural engineering field and many other fields, he was the author of a pioneering searchable database of articles and information that earned him a Presidential Citation from the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE, now ASABE) in 1996. The wide recognition and significance of Bill's work resulted in his receiving numerous other awards and led to his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005. In honor of his exceptional service to the University, he was recently informed that he would be presented with the UC Davis Medal.

Besides these notable accomplishments, Bill held a deep concern for the needs and welfare of his students, who have continued his work and influence around the world. He was passionate about learning and made a point to share his vast knowledge, experience, and wisdom with his students and colleagues. His selflessness assisted and inspired many in the Department and throughout the profession.

Outside of his academic life, Bill enjoyed local and world travels, listening to classical music and "A Prairie Home Companion" broadcasts, and spending time with family. Not only did he share kindness with students, he was a devoted family man who supported family members through his incredible generosity.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Marisa Chancellor of Los Altos, CA; son-in-law, Michael Hacker of Los Altos; and two granddaughters, Courtney Hacker of Washington, D.C. and Allison Hacker of Haverford, PA. He is also survived by his brother, Ed Chancellor of Blue Mounds, WI.

Information will be forthcoming about a memorial service that will be held at a yet-to-be identified date, time, and location. In addition, plans are to have former students, colleagues, and friends from around the world come to UC Davis in the summer to celebrate his life and accomplishments.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William Chancellor, please visit our flower store.


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