William Laubach Nute Jr.

NuteWilliam Laubach Nute Jr., 105, on March 31, 2021, at his home in the Quadrangle, a continuing care retirement community in Haverford, Pa. Bill was born on February 18, 1916, in New York City. His childhood involved many long voyages across the Atlantic, as his parents periodically did missionary work in Turkey. While there, the family enjoyed riding on horseback into the Taurus Mountains to Namrun, a small rural Turkish village where they owned property. The family loved to hike in the hills near their cabin, exploring ruins of a castle built during the time of the Crusades. The property was a treasured family destination.

From 1920–1933 Bill attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., where he graduated cum laude. He attended Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., from 1934–38. Bill embraced Swarthmore’s intellectual rigor combined with social conscience, as well as its Quaker tradition. He graduated with highest honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Bill graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., in 1942. While a medical student, Bill regularly participated in pacifist activities and attended meetings for worship. Several weeks prior to graduation, he met Mary Rogers, then a nursing student. They were married on April 29, 1943. Mary took the nickname “Ginger,” as her mother-in-law was also named Mary. Bill and Ginger would have two daughters, Cornelia Christie and Irine Rose. 

The family sailed for Turkey in the fall of 1948, commissioned by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (now United Church Board for World Ministries). Bill was a medical missionary in Turkey from 1948 through 1965. During that time he served as director of the American Clinic in Adana, medical director of the American Hospital in Gaziantep, and at the Model Hospital in Ankara. He helped establish the Child Health Institute (now Hacettepe University) in Ankara as a major pediatric teaching center. Bill coedited the Turkish Journal of Pediatrics.

In 1961, the Rockefeller Foundation commissioned Bill to organize a medical conference in Iran and to visit medical projects in several countries. From 1965–71, he worked for the National Council of Churches as director of the Christian Medical Council. From 1973–86, he held positions in the New York City Department of Health, successively as a district health officer, regional health director for Manhattan and the Bronx, director of Adult Health Services, and finally deputy medical director of Prison Health. During those years, Bill was an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Ginger Nute died in 1967. The following year Bill met Betty Richardson at Morningside Meeting in the Bronx. They were married on December 29, 1969. Their mutual love of learning and Betty’s love for her native country led them to purchase a flat in Oxford, England. There they enjoyed many summers studying at Oxford University while visiting and hosting friends and family.

At 89, Bill published What We Cannot Say: A Cultural Encounter, East Vs. West, which examined an aspect of Turkish history.

In 1989, the Nutes were among the first residents of the Quadrangle. They immersed themselves in many of the Quadrangle’s activities, while continuing to spend summers in Oxford. Their years at the Quadrangle brought the Nutes a multitude of friendships and joy. They developed a close association with Old Haverford Meeting in Havertown, Pa., where Betty served as trustee for more than a decade. Betty predeceased Bill in 2009.

Bill is survived by one child, Irine Rockwell (partner, Jay Earley); two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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