On December 28, 2010 William R. Freudenburg, Ph.D. succumbed to bile duct cancer at his Santa Barbara, California home.  He was a beloeved son, brother, husband, father, colleague and friend as well as a world renownned environmental sociologist and social theorist best known for his work in rural sociology on the topics of risk perception, social disruption, and the causes of environmental degradation. 

This website is dedicated in loving memory of Bill.  Please feel free to leave a tribute below or your favorite story or memory by visiting the Stories page.  Learn more about Dr. Freudenburg by visiting the His Life page, Wikipedia, or reading below.


• December, 2019: An updated biography of Bill Freudenburg, written by Professor Riley E. Dunlap of Oklahoma State University, was recently published in the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. 

• Januay, 2014: An impressive volume of articles dedicated to the legacy of William Freudenburg was published in the Journal of Research in Social Problems and Public Policy.  Volume 21 is titled: William R. Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research (ISBN: 978-1-78190-734-4). One essay is titled: The Sociological Imagination Personified: Reflections on the LiFe, Scholarly Contributions, and Professional Accomplishments of William R. Freudenburg. by Riley E. Dunlap. Visit Emerald Publishing to access, review and/or purchase a copy.

• May, 2013: A Tribute to William R. Freudenburg was published in Society & Natural Resources, An International Journal, Volume 26, Issue 6, 2013, edited by Tom Beckley and Troy Hall.

• September, 2012:  Release of Bill's textbook titled "Humans in the Landscape: An introduction to Environmental Studies."  Co-authroed by Kai N. Lee and Richard Howarth, this is the first textbook to fully synthesize all key aspects of environmental studies. Check it out on W.W. Norton and Company's website.

April 2012:  Journal of Environmental Studies and Science (JESS) released a special issue dedicated Bill's lifelong work: The Legacy of William R. Freudenburg (Volume 2, Number 1/March 2012). Access this volume and associated articles about Bill by clicking here.

A tribute titled "William Freudenburg: An Intellectual and Professional Biography" by Riley Dunnlap and Debra Davidson was published in Volume 21, Issue 2 of the Rural Sociologist in June 2011 (download .pdf copy here).

Read a transcript of an oral history interview done with Bill by Professor Dana Fisher.  Offers a rich understanding of Bill's work and the evolution of environmental sociology in general.  The paper was presented at the American Sociology Society's (ASA) 2011 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

Professor Freudenburg's complete Curriculum Vitae (CV) is now available online and may be downloaded from UCSB's Environmental Studies Program webiste or by clicking here (.pdf).

An online video website featuring Dr. Freudenburg offers numerous videos about Bill, including:
   • "Bill in His Own Words" (interview of Bill done in November, 2010)
   • "The Legacy of Bill Freudenburg" (tributes from colleagues)
   • Blowout in the Gulf talk (November, 2010 lecture by Bill on his latest book)
   • 12 class lectures by Bill, part of his "Intro to Environmental Studies"
       course (fall quarter, 2010)
 Watching all videos for free at:

In May, 2011 Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker was selected for the inaugural William Freudenburg Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS). Read more about Dr. Tucker, AESS, and the Freudenburg Lifetime Achievement award at:

Visit the Freudenfest website to view a wonderful compilation of images of Bill as well as presentations given by colleagues addressing his amazing scholarly accomplishments. Freudenfest was a daylong collaborative discussion and celebration, held at UCSB in November, 2011, of Dr. Freudenburg's contributions to sociology, environmental studies, and society.

Posted by Riley Dunlap on December 28, 2021

Another very difficult year has passed by, and I've had some personal struggles. Many times I have wished you were still here for selfish reasons, as you always extended a helpful hand and good advice when I was down. But of course, I wish you were still here for far more important reasons, as your scholarly insights would be so welcome these days and your good humor as well. Think of you often Bill, and like so many other miss you greatly. Riley
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2021
Bill, The years are going by fast, and life is tough these days with Covid still lingering, climate change worsening, and our democracy under grave threat. You would be amazed and saddened, as I am. But you would certainly find it a fertile time for research and theorizing, and we could use some of your keen insights. Think of you often and miss you greatly my friend. Riley
Posted by Dianna Bryant on October 25, 2021
I had the good fortune to attend several excellent presentations by Bill at multiple RSS meetings. Friendly, funny, and made me think differently about environmental issues. I have read many articles and books and continue to learn from his scholarship. Found this site today and smiled at the butterfly effect I felt from his presence in the world.
Posted by Riley Dunlap on December 28, 2020

You missed a terrible year, one we would have neve expected when you left us. But scholarly work on environmental issues continues, and is enriched by your great body of scholarship.
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2020

Wow, this has been quite a year, full of problems like Covid-19 and the efforts of Trump and his GOP puppets to further undermine American democracy via extreme voter suppression measures. Tomorrow I hope our fellow citizens clean house, and save our country. You would have found a lot to think about and no doubt study in this situation. Miss you a lot.

Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 3, 2019
Hi Bill,

Got some good news for you this year, my dear friend. I was invited to write a short piece about you and your scholarship for the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology by George Ritzer, and with the help of Duane Gill I have done so. It should be out fairly soon, and it's great recognition for you to be in there along with many giants of sociology. I'll send it along so it can be posted on this site when the volume comes out.

I continue to miss you a lot. The older I get the more I realize how incredibly valuable and meaningful our friendship was, and sure wish you where still here. But have no doubt, you scholarship lives on.

Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2018
Well, yet another year flew by Bill, and I've "retired" and am settling into a new home in Tulsa where Christina found a good job. I hope to keep publishing regularly, and help keep our field of Environmental Sociology going strong--which it certainly is. As I noted last year, your work continues to be drawn upon by a wide range of scholars, and "disproportionality" is especially stimulating a good deal of work. So your ideas and spirit clearly live on. Miss you. Riley
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2017

Another year has zoomed by. Environmental Sociology is going stronger than ever, and your work continues to be a key part of our field. You are missed, and fondly remembered by our colleagues--and certainly by me.

Posted by Christine Shearer on January 7, 2017
Hi Bill, Well, there are plenty of days I still wish you were around to give me advice and insight on how to navigate the world between the social and environmental/earth sciences. And I think you'd have so many brilliant, witty things to say regarding what is happening right now - interesting times! You are missed greatly, but the influences of your work carry on in multiple areas and ways, and that is what science is about - immortality! haha. By the way, I'll never forget that you went to my PhD graduation, even when ill. Thanks Bill for everything.
Posted by Cheryl Hutton on November 3, 2016
Dear Bill, Every morning when I'm opening the Environmental Studies conference room I look at your portrait hanging in your library collection and send a good morning greetings and let you know how things are going. We miss you and your passion. We need more hero's to champion the environment like you did. Please send us a bunch.
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2016
Hi Bill,

Another year has gone by, but things are going well for your legacy and for our beloved field of Environmental Sociology. Your "disproportionality" thesis is stimulating more and more strong research, confirming your initial findings, and may prove to be the most widely used of your numerous great ideas.

I met a bright young U.S. environmental sociologist at a little conference I co-organized in Sweden last week, one who is pretty much self-trained in our field. He remarked that "I keep finding more great work by Bill Freudenburg the more I delve into environmental sociology." I promised to send him you final vita, and I'm about to do that.

And you'll also be pleased to know that Env Soc is growing in stature and moving into the mainstream, thanks in part to the attention being given to climate change. More and more work is being published in "elite" journals, following the path that you paved.

So please know, my dear friend, that your insights continue to inspire other scholars, at an escalating pace, and thereby strengthen our field.

Miss you greatly,
Posted by Katey Simetra on September 25, 2016
I’ve been thinking about Bill today, perhaps because we both would have turned 65 on November 2 this year, and I’ve been reflecting deeply and regularly on the health and well being of Nature, trees and water particularly, and the indigenous tribes that have joined together in North Dakota to take a stand to protect the water. I stand in solidarity with all who are there, as Protectors. Although “retired,” I’ve been involved as a citizen with two groups to protect the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State from naval warfare practices involving noise-invasive growler jets and a electronic warfare range, all which impact wildlife, beautiful lands, some “protected” as a national park and national forests, and communities around the Peninsula, Whidbey Island, the San Juans, and other nearby areas. I witness the impacts of climate change, each year showing us more. I learn continually from Nature, as my spiritual path is deeply aligned with Nature. So, it’s not surprising that I’d think of Bill with this combination of environmental-social protection and concern for justice, Nature stewardship, spirituality and the ways of Nature, and our mutual birthdays. So, although it’s more than a month until this next birthday, I honor Bill yet again, as my friend and birthday twin, and his tremendous legacy professionally and personally.

Bill: Warm, spiritual blessings to you, my friend, as you continue your own journey, and heartfelt blessings to those you touched near and far… I miss your lively spirit in this world still, yet I know your spirit and heart live on within all of us you touched, including Mother Nature… With gratitude, love, and peace... Katey
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 6, 2015

I just got back from Japan where I spoke at the 5th International Symposium on Environmental Sociology in East Asia, and one of the papers presented by a Chinese scholar was based on your "double diversion" argument. So my dear friend, your work is not only alive and well (and getting lots of attention) here in the US, but is spreading internationally.

Also, the ASA Task Force volume, Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives, was finally published by Oxford and is an official ASA publication. I sure wish you were here to help me celebrate, but I appreciated your insights when we launched the Task Force.

I think of you often, and miss you greatly.

Posted by Jim Freudenburg on November 2, 2015
Happy Birthday, Lieber Bruder! Hard to believe you would be 64 today. If you and dad could possibly pull a few strings up there, our beloved Huskers could sure use some intervention! Miss you always.
Posted by Cheryl Hutton on November 2, 2015
Bill, I played a very small part in your life here at the University but you seem to relate to people with special clarity. I want you to know I'm still using and I am still inspired by the password you gave me. We miss you and think of you often.
Posted by Diane Venden on December 28, 2014
Four years have gone by...your light continues to shine and inspire. But we who love you miss your smile & friendship so very much. My love & thoughts are with Sarah & Max today...
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2014

I think of you often, and miss you very much, as do so many of our colleagues. I've continued our tradition of organizing group dinners for ETS members at ASA meetings, and they're very successful--and a tribute to the warm and inviting atmosphere you played a key role in establishing within the Section.

With two journal symposia and the RSPPP volume dedicated to your work now in print, you can be assured that your ideas continue to get a great deal of attention.

Rest in peace my dear friend,
Posted by Diane Venden on November 3, 2013
The picture of you on my wall puts a smile on my face every time--your smile is that contagious, it spans the distance between us even now. Always in my heart, sweet man and good friend. Here at UW we miss you still and speak of you often when we gather. I'm so thankful our lives crossed paths, Bill!
Posted by Diane Venden on November 2, 2012
Remembering you especially on your birthday. If only I was choosing a witty card for your enjoyment! Always in my heart, Bill, the best "boss" ever.
Posted by Barbara Haley on July 31, 2012
Bill left us much, much too soon. May his spirit live on!
Posted by Diane Venden on December 28, 2011
One year ago today, rocks fell from the mountaintop and stopped us in our tracks. One year ago today, my best friend couldn't tell me the tragic news, she had to pass the phone to a friend who could. Just one year to show us that life goes on, though with less volume and one less hero. Thank you, Bill, for the mountain of great memories!
Posted by Lindsay Kircher on June 1, 2011
Bill's passion for ES & talent for teaching & inspiring others never ceased to amaze me. His words-"The most that any of us can hope for is to make a positive difference with others, and possibly to leave the world a tiny bit better than we found it
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on April 26, 2011
Re: Beth Parke's post about SEJournal articles: to view them you may need to go to the Journal website itself at: and do a search for "Remembering Bill Freudenburg" and "Robbing Nature's Bank." Some experience an error when copyin
Posted by Beth Parke on April 26, 2011
The Spring 2011 SEJournal, (Society of Environmental Journalists), offers a remembrance written by Roger Witherspoon, along with a brilliant essay by Bill. You can read it here: 
Posted by Mira Dorrance-Bird on February 25, 2011
I am so grateful to have had the chance to learn from Professor Freudenburg. The level of respect I have for him is beyond what I am able to express. I will always regret not thanking him personally for teaching me more in 10 weeks than I have learned in the course of my entire education, and inspiring me in the same fashion. Here's to a tremendous human being... Thank you, Bill!
Posted by Angela Mertig on January 31, 2011
Bill, thank you for your collegiality and support. Your positive energy, overt friendliness, sense of humor and wisdom will be sorely missed. You are a true scholar and mensch.
Posted by Jessica Guzman on January 22, 2011
To all those Professor Freudenburg touched they are so lucky to have met him. I first had the pleasure of taking his class as a freshman at UCSB. His ES 1 class inspired me more than any other class ever has done. Thank you so much for all the amazing things you did during your short stay on this planet. You will not be disappointed in all the work that your students continue to do in your honor.
Posted by dani bobrowske on January 21, 2011
I was lucky enough to have Bill Freudenburg as my Professor. I have never been so inspired by any other teacher; Bill's passion shined through everything he taught. I am so grateful to have known and and been a student of Professor Freudenburg. He will always be in my heart.
Posted by Marc McGinnes on January 19, 2011
It was a blessing to be in the presence of and in community with this truly lovely man. Bill was on fire and he loved being on fire and he was a master at helping others come alight. Who can ever forget his wide-eyed embrace, calling you to yourself and to the joy of the work and play at hand. I nominate Bill as a Saint of our community. I can hear him laughing at the thought,
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on January 16, 2011
From: Cousin Judy from Iowa:
Bill was a really great guy! I remember he would always be so excited to go on the wagon rides on our farm. He would always bring us Mad Magazines and comic books. It was always such fun when you would come visit! Even though he was older than me, he was always really nice and had a great sense of humor. We will all miss him.
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on January 16, 2011
From Greg and Mary Lubisher:
I feel privileged to have known Bill and wish I knew him even better. I will miss the talks we had over crops, weather, and the Cornhuskers. When it came to crop prices we would usually have an argument over who did the worse job of marketing. In the end, we would usually console each other and vow to do better next time. What a neat person he was, and to talk to!
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on January 16, 2011
From Mary Becker Boston:
My memories of Bill are from when we were in high school. He was very friendly and so very, very intelligent! He was also so musically talented that my husband Earl and I asked Bill to sing for our wedding. He did a fabulous job! After reading his obituary, I see what a full and wonderful life he had. I hope that there is someone to carry on his great legacy.
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on January 16, 2011
From: Mrs. Glenda Graves from West Point:
Bill certainly achieved much during his earthly life! I will always remember lifeguarding with him at Indian Trails, and he and Randy 'making music' out in our barn!
Posted by Nan Johnson on January 15, 2011
Colleague Bill, I have always appreciated your sense of humor and your intelligence. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your mentorship.
Posted by Ernst von Weizsaecker on January 12, 2011
Bill knew that conserving the environment requires a change of politics. And that in a country where you can make a political career by spitting at politics. He was one of my best friends during my three years of service for the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Ernst von Weizsaecker
Posted by Kathryn Slama on January 11, 2011
Professor Freudenburg is the reason I am pursuing my masters degree in an environmental field. Having him throughout my time at UCSB made my experience that much more memorable. He had a passion for his work and a genuine interest in all of his students. myself and all other ES students owe it to him. We will continue your work professor! Here's to you
Posted by Noëlle Boucquey on January 10, 2011
I will never forget Bill Freudenburg's excellent and challenging courses, great sense of humor and caring attitude toward his students. In Bill's classes, we didn't shy away from difficult authors, we had great discussions, and Bill would join us for pizza after class. It was a wonderful way to learn. Bill was also instrumental in helping me get into graduate school. Thank you for everything Bill!
Posted by Wolfgang Schluchter on January 10, 2011
I remember many conversations and discussions with Bill Freudenburg and I would like hereby to say him thanks for the depth and humanity of the exchange of knowledge and experience. Thank you, Bill.
Posted by Flora Wang on January 9, 2011
Bill---my distinguished colleague---I’d like to express my heartfelt respect to you. Your vivid lectures, profound erudition, teaching skills really benefited me a lot. Thanks a lot for the great opportunity you providing me to work with you at UCSB. I will always remember your passion on environmental sociology, your smile, humor, kindness, friendship…….Rest in peace, my dear friend.
Posted by Jang Heo on January 6, 2011
I came to be one of many lucky students of him since 1994 when Bill was in Madison, Wisconsin. He was so gentle, humorous, kind, and warm-hearted to my family from Korea as well as giving many precious comments on my doctoral thesis. I cannot forget the most pleasant dinner with his family at a restaurant in Santa Barbara. Rest in peace, my dear advisor...
Posted by Diane Venden on January 6, 2011
Bill, We were a real "team" at the Dept. of Rural Sociology at UW-Madison. We were extremely busy but always the humor and friendship. You brought me tiger lilies from your ditch at home which to me were roses. My heart is broken; memories will stay with me forever. Diane "best secretary of all time" 1991
Posted by Erinn O'Shea on January 6, 2011
Bill inspired us all to live each day vibrantly, joyfully, and with much humor. He demonstrated these qualities to the very end. What an exquisite role model we were blessed with!
Posted by Alisha Dahlstrom on January 6, 2011
Among a unique and wonderful ES department, Bill was a wonderful guide and inspiration. Some of the best and lasting lessons I took from UCSB were learned in his classes, lessons I think about in life and that are guiding my time at grad school. And always so kind, despite my persistant knocking at his door. I am lucky to have had a chance to learn from one of the greats. Will always remember you.
Posted by Shelly Barnes on January 6, 2011
As my advisor for my undergraduate thesis, Bill would ask on a weekly basis if I was still rearranging my pencils. Little did I know, that having your pencils in a row is a very important part of any writing process. Bill, your humor and passion will be greatly missed.
Posted by Lauren Davis on January 6, 2011
Prof. Freudenburg was one of the most compassionate and inspiring professors I had during my time at UCSB. I took ES1 with him the first quarter of my freshman year and his freshman seminar. For the next 4 years, I was so touched that he always took the time to say hello when I ran into him on campus, always remembering my name and our connection. I feel so lucky that I learned from him.
Posted by david sai-ngarm on January 5, 2011
Professor Freudenberg could make the world of bleak and grey into blue and green again, for lost souls stuck to the slick of oil- he was acetone. For those in the slip of acerbic melancholy, he was harmony, he was melody. Long live his lectures, long live his voice, may mankind make its stand in the waves and likes of him...
Posted by katia baumgartner on January 5, 2011
Thank you for your kindness, passion, were trully a great man....

God bless you and your family
Posted by Anonymous Bugoff on January 5, 2011
Professor Freudenberg, you are the reason I chose to major in ES and therefore you changed my life. Thank you so much for your light. You resonated with passion for your students for the world, and you even made me tear up on the last day of class. I hope your son reads this and remembers the impact his father had- a massive, loving ripple through the world. 

Safe passage <3
Posted by Sarah Lang on January 5, 2011
I am sorry to hear the sad news. I am an ES graduate from 2009 and now I am about to begin my master's thesis on the double diversion in a few weeks...Professor Freudenburg loved the idea when I emailed him for advice about it, I'm sorry he won't be around to read it, but I'll work extra hard on it to make him proud! thanks for all the inspiration Professor
Posted by Patti Freudenburg on January 5, 2011
"BBB" -- Big Brother Bill -- thanks for the wisdom, the joy and the humor you brought to our lives! And students -- thank you for sharing a side of Bill's world that the family didn't often have a chance to see.
"LSP" ..... little sister Pat
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Riley Dunlap on December 28, 2021

Another very difficult year has passed by, and I've had some personal struggles. Many times I have wished you were still here for selfish reasons, as you always extended a helpful hand and good advice when I was down. But of course, I wish you were still here for far more important reasons, as your scholarly insights would be so welcome these days and your good humor as well. Think of you often Bill, and like so many other miss you greatly. Riley
Posted by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2021
Bill, The years are going by fast, and life is tough these days with Covid still lingering, climate change worsening, and our democracy under grave threat. You would be amazed and saddened, as I am. But you would certainly find it a fertile time for research and theorizing, and we could use some of your keen insights. Think of you often and miss you greatly my friend. Riley
Posted by Dianna Bryant on October 25, 2021
I had the good fortune to attend several excellent presentations by Bill at multiple RSS meetings. Friendly, funny, and made me think differently about environmental issues. I have read many articles and books and continue to learn from his scholarship. Found this site today and smiled at the butterfly effect I felt from his presence in the world.
Recent stories

Sad news

Shared by Riley Dunlap on January 1, 2015


Sadly we lost your buddy Bob Gramling this year.  Like you, he left us too early.  What an incredible collaboration you two had, and many have benefitted from the work of "Freudling" and "Gramburg."  Besides being superb scholars, you were wonderful human beings.   

You are missed, and your work (including that with Bob) continues to inspire and be used by other scholars.  I just cited two of your articles today!

You are always on my mind, and I miss you a great deal.



Happy Birthday

Shared by Riley Dunlap on November 2, 2013

Dear Bill,

How I wish you were still here to celebrate your 62nd birthday.  But please know that your memory is burning bright in lives of so many people, and your work is getting more attention than ever.  We miss you.

Your dear friend,
Riley Dunlap    

Ode to Bill

Shared by Riley Dunlap on June 8, 2011

The following is the statement I read at Freudenfest:

By 1976 Bill Catton and I had teamed up at Washington State and I was excited not only about becoming an “environmental sociologist,” but eager to see the field develop—especially at Washington State. In those early days social impact assessment was a hot topic and a key component of this new field, so when WSU’s Department of Rural Sociology (where I had a half-time appointment) had an opening that year I pushed to have it re-defined from a “community development” position to more of a social impact slot—and Don Dillman, the new Chair, was receptive to the idea. So we advertised for a joint position with the Department of Sociology that, while I don’t recall the details, was designed for someone doing SIA.
At the August 1976 ASA meeting I made a point of attending a session in which someone from Yale was giving a presentation on “energy boomtowns” in Colorado, and what a presentation it was. A boyishly handsome young fellow, with a full head of hair no less, knocked my socks off with an enthusiastic and articulate talk about the impact of energy development on rural communities—and I knew I had found the ideal candidate and cornered Bill when the session ended. I told him about the position and how he’d be a perfect fit, but he indicated he wasn’t even close to being finished with his dissertation and wasn’t on the market. I was disappointed, but vowed to keep my eye on him.
Fortunately, the two people we interviewed turned us down, so when we re-advertised the following year I made sure to track Bill down at the 1977 ASA meeting where he again gave a great talk. This time I pushed hard to get him to apply, and truth be known, the small-town Nebraska boy had become a real Ivy League guy and was a bit unsure about both rural sociology and Washington State University, especially its location in Pullman. But I explained that a research appointment in Rural Sociology meant a lower teaching load, re-emphasized that he was a perfect fit for the position, and then added he’d have very good colleagues!  Despite still having a lot of work left on his dissertation Bill applied and got the job, and arrived in Fall, 1978 ABD.
To my pleasant surprise, Gene Rosa applied for a position in Sociology the same year, largely I suspect because his partner at the time was very interested in WSU, and was also hired and we landed a rare specialist in energy, another hot topic in the emerging field of environmental sociology. I was in heaven, as we not only had the world’s first environmental sociology program, but a damn good one.
The next several years were truly “glory years” for WSU environmental sociology, and we had a real esprit de corps. Bill took the office next door to mine in Rural Sociology, and we struck up a fast friendship. He was full of ideas and happy to share them and also eager to hear mine, and not shy about expressing his views on his, mine and just about everybody else’s. Shy Bill was not, and while he occasionally ruffled the feathers of a few senior members of the department he also earned the respect and admiration of others, especially Bill Catton and James Short. I simply enjoyed talking with him, as he always had good insights on everything from boomtowns to paradigms.
When he wasn’t out with Gene, who (after his partner left WSU) was trying to teach Bill how to become a “lady’s man,” he’d sometimes join me for a night out or come over for dinner with my family. My kids and (now ex) wife liked Bill a lot, and my son Chris was especially fond of him. In particular, he enjoyed checking out Bill’s office with its unique filing system (piles everywhere) every time I happened to bring him to my office. Of course, this created some problems, as when I’d tell Chris to clean up his room and he’d respond, “Why? It’s not as messy as Bill’s office.” I had to agree, but emphasized that Bill’s office was not part of our home!
Of course, all good things have to come to an end, and in 1986 Bill was wooed to Madison. While he hated to leave WSU (or so he said) he just had to get out of Pullman if he ever wanted to find a woman. I in turn pointed out that’s it’s really hard to find one when you work until 11 pm or later each night! Still, I realized it was a good professional move, and of course Gene and I joked “Is it Pullman, or is it Freudenburg?” and made wagers about whether Bill would ever find a woman who could put up with his work habits. I’m glad to say we were both quite happy to be proven wrong, and delighted when he found Sarah.
Over the decades I’ve watched him evolve from “Boomtown Bill” to William R. as in “recreance” Freudenburg to a fellow whose prodigious body of superb scholarship attracts a well-deserved “disproportional” share of attention, who is continually creative and novel and thus doesn’t need to engage in “diversionary reframing,” whose professionalism has often helped combat the growth of “corrosive communities” within our field, and whose collegiality has generated a “density of acquaintanceship” to be envied. And trust me, my praise is no SCAM!
Quite simply, Bill is one of the very smartest and most creative scholars I’ve ever known. He has produced a body of scholarly work that has advanced environmental sociology and social science greatly, and will continue to stimulate other scholars for decades to come.
The friendship we formed during those early years easily survived Bill’s move to Wisconsin, and over the past three decades I’ve had no better and more reliable friend than Bill Freudenburg. I’ve had some ups and downs in my life and career, and I have always been able to turn to Bill when in need of a helping hand whether just a pat on the back or quick feedback on an overdue manuscript. As they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed, and it’s been a privilege and honor to have Bill as a close friend and confidant. Indeed, he’s become more like a brother, and that’s why I love him like one and always will.