Dr. William Douglas Proppe loving father, loyal friend, inspiring educator and leader, died peacefully February 17, 2007, at the age of 84. His family was at his bedside surrounding him with love in his final hours. He was born January 4, 1923, in Portland to William Frederick Proppe and Ethel Amelia Matthieu. He is a descendent of Francis Xavier Matthieu who helped shape Oregon's provisional government in 1843. Bill, a native Oregonian, grew up in Sellwood during the depression era. His childhood Huck Finn-like experiences gave him many vivid memories and stories to share from those times. His favorites were manning makeshift rafts while exploring the Oaks Bottom Wetlands, the nooks and crannies of the neighboring Sellwood bluff and inventing games around the baseball diamond of Sellwood park.

Bill attended Llewellyn School in the first class to use the new brick building. The Church played an important role in the family and they attended Sellwood Baptist Church. Bill attended Washington High School. He was elected Student Body President, participated in various sports, played the trombone and in a popularity poll published in the Washingtonian was named "best looking." Bill graduated from Washington in 1941 and began working at the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Los Angeles to pay for college. He attended Oregon State College for two years before joining the Army Air Corps in 1943.

During World War II, 1st Lt. William Proppe was pilot of a B-24 bomber with the 8th Air Force, responsible for the safety of his crew. He flew 18 combat missions over enemy territory. Despite this danger, flying became one of his true loves. He was on bombing missions over his father's native country enough times to be awarded air medals and battle stars.

This thought provoking experience led him to change his major from civil engineering to education upon his return to Oregon State College and his role as a lifelong educator and leader began. While attending Oregon State, Bill married JoAnn "Jody" Humphrey of Medford in 1946. He was elected Oregon State Student Body President, a member of SAE fraternity and Blue Key National Honor fraternity. He graduated from Oregon State College with a bachelor's degree in education in 1948, the same month that their first daughter Susan Kay was born.

Bill's first teaching position was at Grants Pass High School where he taught physics and chemistry and drove the school bus. In 1951 he received his master's degree in school administration from Stanford University. He returned to Grants Pass to become a teaching principal at Roosevelt School and in 1952 was selected to be the Superintendent of Elementary Schools in Empire. In 1953, his career took him back to his home town of Portland as Director of Personnel for Portland Public Schools.

The Proppes lived near Mt.Tabor and Bill and Jody were active members of Mt.Tabor Presbyterian Church where Bill was a ruling elder and youth group advisor. In 1953, their second daughter, Marsha Ann '72, was born. Bill loved his work in personnel and hired many teachers as he traveled across country recruiting the best and the brightest.

His real passion, however, was working with students and he became Vice-Principal of Wilson High School when the school opened in 1956. While at Wilson in 1958, their third child, William Mark '76 was born. In 1961, Bill took a two-year leave of absence from the district to become Principal of Heidelberg American High School in Germany. This experience transformed his life as he and his young family developed a life-long passion for travel and other cultures. They embarked on many adventures throughout Europe packed to the roof with camping gear in their vintage VW bus. Upon his return to Portland, Bill went on to positively impact the lives of thousands of students, parents and staff as a principal and vice-principal for Portland Public Schools serving at Marshall, Lincoln, Wilson and Jefferson High Schools.

In 1965 while principal at Wilson he said he wanted to "develop students as men and women who are self-reliant, self-motivated and ready to do their share in a democratic society. We need to give students opportunities to serve others, to feel that they are a part of something greater than themselves." In addition to the demands of his administrative work he went on to complete his doctorate degree from the University of Portland in 1967.

Bill loved woodworking and built a ski boat in his garage, christening it the Badewanne (bathtub in German). The Proppes spent many summers water-skiing and camping with friends on the Columbia River at Reed and Government islands and at Cultus Lake. Bill became Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University in 1970, developing courses in urban education . In 1974 he was selected Superintendent of the Washington County ESD where he served for 11 years until his retirement in 1985.

Bill married, Phyllis Sutherland Proppe, in 1974 and was a loving stepfather to Jim, Ann and Jane Pendergrass. Bill and Phyllis lived in Eastmoreland and led numerous educational tours to Great Britain. They were active members in Moreland Presbyterian Church and enjoyed volunteer work. They played tennis at the Portland Racquet Club and Bill was a member of the Jewish Community Center where he made many friends with his early morning lap swims. Post retirement, Bill was interim superintendent at Yamhill, Estacada and Lincoln counties. He was a member Phi Delta Kappa and Rotary, belonged to many professional organizations and served on numerous boards happy to give of his time and talents.

A loyal OSU Beaver alum, Bill established an endowment at OSU: the William D. Proppe Presidential Scholarship Fund to support undergraduates demonstrating academic excellence, merit, leadership and community service. He was an initial donor for the construction of the CH2M Hill Alumnae Center on campus. As Bill reflected on his life and career as an educator he shared these thoughts: "My greatest satisfaction is becoming a teacher. My educational philosophy is a straight forward one. I believe that human beings, are happiest when they are motivated to learn, to achieve, and to contribute to society something that is self-satisfying. The results are a renewed sense of dignity, self worth, and belonging. My greatest accomplishment - my family. Life has been good to me, from playing kick-the-can to teaching college students, I wouldn't have changed it if I could." Bill's greatest gift was his ability to support and encourage the gifts and potential within others. His integrity, optimism, generosity, humor and faith in the power of goodness are his lasting legacy to all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Sutherland Proppe; his children, Susan Proppe Tong (Dennis), Marsha Proppe Brockmeyer (Gene) and Bill Proppe Jr.; grandson, Nathan Matthieu Tong; great-granddaughter, Jade Kamiya Tong, stepchildren, Freeman Tong, Jim Pendergrass, Ann Hill, Jane Pendergrass and their families; his beloved sister, Wilma Proppe Burdett of Troutlake and her family; the family of his younger sister, Margaret Proppe Lednicky; cousin, JennieLou Werlein; and many others who adopted Bill as their mentor/dad. He is preceded in death by his parents and younger sister, Margaret. Bill was a caregiver many years for his treasured elderly aunts and uncles who adored him and to whom he gave much love and joy. We are grateful for the loving care our father received from Gail King Rengel of Fireside Homes and caregivers Esther, Kat, Morgan, Kristy and Ursula who filled our father's last months with tenderness and comfort. Published in The Oregonian on 2/27/2007