William H. Gerson, 65, professor of mathematics

October 09, 2004

William H. Gerson, a mathematics professor at Prince George's Community College who was an anti-war activist in the 1960s, died of multiple myeloma Monday at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was 65 and lived in Annapolis.

Mr. Gerson was born in New York City and raised in Brooklyn. He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering from Cooper Union College in 1962, and a master's degree in physics from Columbia University in 1964.

While studying for his doctorate in physics at the University of Maryland, College Park in the 1960s, Mr. Gerson joined Students for a Democratic Society. He was co-author of the Radical Guide to the University of Maryland and was active in the local anti-war movement.

During those years, he frequently wrote for the Daily Worker. His father was the editor of that and other alternative newspapers.

"Growing up as a `red diaper baby' in a left-wing family during the McCarthy period, he was raised in a community whose values of social justice, equal rights and courage in the face of repression he embraced throughout his life," said his daughter, Timi Gerson of Washington.

Since 1979, he had been on the faculty at Prince George's Community College. Earlier, he taught at Bishop McNamara High School, Queen Anne's High School and at the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association Technical College on the Eastern Shore.

He was a member of Anne Arundel Peace Action and for the last 24 years spent summers at World Fellowship in North Conway, N.H., an intercultural and progressive retreat center.

He was an avid chess player and was a member of the Annapolis Chess Club.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete yesterday.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Gerson is survived by his parents, Simon and Sophie Gerson of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a sister, Deborah Gerson of San Francisco; a stepson, Shawn Frick of Mount Airy; a stepdaughter, Bonnie Cannon of Seattle; and his longtime companion, Wendy Widmann of Severna Park. Two marriages ended in divorce.

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