Professor Emeritus Bill McIlwaine
R-MC Professor Emeritus of English William Meade “Bill” McIlwaine died on October
McIlwaine taught at Randolph-Macon from 1955-1994 and specialized in 18th and 19th
century British literature. During his distinguished tenure at the college, his
passion for the history of film compelled him to introduce film studies—which eventually
became a minor—to R-MC’s curriculum. He regularly introduced films and led discussions
at the Virginia Film Festivals in Charlottesville.
In 2009, McIlwaine was presented with the Noe-Kilgore Award, which was established
in 1998 by an anonymous alumnus to honor R-MC faculty emeriti. He received numerous
other awards including the Distinguished Service Faculty Award and he served on
various college committees, including chairing the scholarships committee for six
The citation for his Noe-Kilgore award included the following: “Unassuming and modest,
Bill McIlwaine is a prized member of our community. Randolph-Macon College was a
perfect fit for him. For his colleagues in English and those who know him well,
Bill’s life exemplifies what it means to be an intellectual, a supporter of the
arts, a man dedicated to his family, and a loyal friend."
McIlwaine’s accomplishments as a teacher, scholar, and faculty member were many
and impressive, according to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William
Franz. “Bill was an intellectual mentor and friend to his colleagues,” says Franz.
“He kept up to date on literature, film, politics, and national and international
events, and he supported the arts. He was one of our dearest R-MC family members.”
After his retirement, McIlwaine continued to enjoy his love of the arts. He was
quoted in a recent alumni magazine article as saying, “A typical day is spent doing
what I love to do—reading, taking a walk, listening to music, having lunch with
friends . . . and watching a film.” His nephew, Tom Wulf, says, “He lived a wonderful
life and did exactly what he loved, including watching movies and then talking about
McIlwaine was a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and earned his master's degree
in English from the University of Virginia. He taught and completed his coursework
for his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. He also studied for a year at Cambridge
A memorial service was at Duncan Memorial Methodist Church in Ashland on Wednesday,
October 19. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hampden-Sydney College.