Obituary: Dr. William Roll
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Dr. William G. Roll, a former professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia. Dr. Roll’s son, Leif Roll, has kindly provided the following obituary to share.
William George Roll II, 85, of Villa Rica, Georgia died at 5:05 a.m., January 9, 2012 at the McLean County Nursing Home in Normal, Illinois. Bill was born July 3, 1926 in Bremen, Germany, where his father was American Vice-Consul. His mother was Danish and he attended Holte Gymnasium in Denmark. He obtained a BA from the University of Berkeley, a B.Litt. and M. Litt. from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Lund University. Bill served in the Danish Resistance movement during World War II.
Bill is survived by his wife, Lydia of Villa Rica, Georgia; his daughter Lise Roll-Pettersson and her husband Hans of Nykoping, Sweden; his son Leif Roll and his wife Ginia of Bloomington, Illinois; his son William G. Roll III and his wife Jenny of Brewster, New York. He is also survived by his 7 precious grandchildren: David, Martin, Jensen, Giles, Georgi, Annika, and Anders.
In addition to being a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather, Bill enjoyed everything Mother Nature offered including hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, and travelling the world. He also had a huge heart for all creatures, big and small. Everywhere he went and everyone he met could feel the warmth of his heart and his love for all life.
Bill also had a lifelong love affair with his work. In 1957, Bill and his family moved to Durham, North Carolina for a position at the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University under J. B. Rhine. He remained there until Rhine retired in 1964. This was a remarkable time in many ways and it was during this period that Bill began to study poltergeists, a phenomenon which was to become the area within parapsychology in which he made the greatest contribution.
Between 1964-1985 Bill was the director of the Psychical Research Foundation where he continued his research in out-of-body testing and ESP experiments with mediums and psychics (also coined RSPK – recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis).
During his career as a parapsychologist, Bill appeared on numerous segments of Unsolved Mysteries, in the series A Haunting on Discovery Channel and other television documentaries. He served as a faculty member at the University of West Georgia and also wrote over one hundred scientific papers, contributed articles to anthologies, edited eleven volumes of Research in Parapsychology, and wrote four books, The Poltergeist, Theory and Experiment in Psychical Research, Psychic Connections (with Lois Duncan), and Unleashed: Of Poltergeists and Murder: The Curious Story of Tina Resch (with Valerie Storey). In 1996, Bill received the Outstanding Career Award from the Parapsychological Association and in 2002 he received the Tim Dinsdale Memorial Award from the Society for Scientific Exploration.
His memorial service will be held this summer in Denmark. Memorials may be made to the Parapsychological Association Inc. and the McLean County Nursing Home.
His family would like to thank the staff at the McLean County Nursing Home and OSF Hospice for all the loving care they gave Bill.
For more information on the life and work of Dr. Roll, explore the following resources:
Dr Roll and his work in the University of West Georgia Ingram Library’s Special Collections
William G. Roll on Wikipedia
Dr. Roll’s Parapsychological Association profile
An Interview on ParaNexus Universe Paranormal Talk Radio (skip the intro, begin at the 3 min point)