Obituary: William ‘Bill’ Brophy

October 9, 1922 – January 24, 2018

William “Bill” Brophy was born in Rockford, IL to Allen O. Brophy and Ruth Tucker Brophy. After completing his early education in Rockford, during which time he earned his pocket money delivering newspapers and playing cornet professionally in dance bands, Bill attended the University of Illinois where he majored in Music Education and Music Performance. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a pilot, flying target planes for student airborne artillery gunners. Bill married his college sweetheart, Mary E. Evans, of Racine, WI on July 29, 1944.

After the war, he returned to University of Illinois to finish his Bachelor’s degree and then complete a Master’s degree in Music. Bill then spent his career working at Ohio University in Athens. In 1948, Bill joined the School of Music, where he primarily taught French horn students. He was also the Associate Director of the School of Music from 1978 to 1983; Assistant Director of Bands from 1948 until 1965; director of the Ohio Brass Choir, the opera orchestra, and the adult choir of the First Christian Church. Bill was an active member of the music scholarship committee and an adjudicator for OMEA contests. He spent his life sharing his love and appreciation of music with thousands of students. After 44 years of teaching, Bill retired from Ohio University as a Professor Emeritus.

Upon his retirement from teaching, he turned to the visual arts, studying photography at Ohio University. For many years he shared his love of the natural world, especially in and around Door County, with many through his award-winning photography of black and white landscapes, still life, and portraits.

In 1997, Bill and his wife, Mary, moved to Door County, where he was active with the Door County Arts League. He and Mary enjoyed searching for places where interesting photos could be taken as well as hosting family and friends at their home, affectionately known as the “ZZ Hilton.” Bill enjoyed playing golf and fostered a love of miniature golf within his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren during rounds at The Red Putter in Ephraim. He was a connoisseur of big band music and enjoyed watching Formula 1 racing. Bill was also a loyal and vocal Cubs fan, wearing a Cubs cap in season and out.

Bill was preceded in death by Mary, his wife of 62 years, his son Richard, and his grandson Allen. He leaves his brother Jack and sister-in-law Peggy of Corvallis, OR; daughter Susan of Foxboro, MA; son Bill and daughter-in-law Cheryl of Salisbury, MD; and daughter Julie and son-in-law Bill of Columbus, OH. Additionally, he is survived by six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

To honor Bill’s love of teaching, the family requests contributions to the Ohio University School of Music Scholarship. To give online, go to, click “The fund I want to support isn’t listed above” and enter “School of Music Scholarship.” Please note “In memory of William R. Brophy.” To give by check, make checks payable to the Ohio University Foundation and note “School of Music Scholarship in memory of William R. Brophy” in the memo line. Send checks to Ohio University Foundation, PO Box 869, Athens OH, 45701.

A memorial service will be held at a later date in Sister Bay.

Article Comments