William Close Albright

William Close Albright

COTTAGE GROVE – William C. “Bill” Albright, age 68, died from complications of metastatic prostate cancer on Monday, March 1, 2021, at his home in Cottage Grove.

He was born in Madison on July 11, 1952, the youngest of four boys, to Dr. Edwin and Mary Albright.

Bill grew up in the Westmorland neighborhood of Madison. He graduated from West High School in 1970, received his BA in biology from Lawrence University in Appleton in 1974, and earned his MS in Science Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987. After college he worked for the Wisconsin DNR as a Park Naturalist at Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls and for the Bureau of Fish Research, which at the time was involved with the daunting task of mapping fish species distributions across the State to determine which qualified for protection under the new Endangered Species Act of 1973. He then joined the Zoology Department at UW-Madison as a Project Specialist at the Center for Limnology, working out of the Hasler Lab in Madison and Trout Lake Station in Vilas County. He decided to turn down an offer to begin a graduate program at the Center for Limnology, instead going back to school to earn his K-8 teaching license. He began his career teaching fourth grade in DeForest, then transferred to the Madison School District where he taught fifth and sixth grades and middle school math and science. Along the way he earned his MS and secondary certification and moved to La Follette High School where he spent the last 14 years of his career teaching biology and earth science. La Follette was a special place where he had the privilege of working and teaching with some remarkable educators and characters. Go Lancers!

Bill is survived by Kathy, his best friend and remarkable wife of 36 years; his dear daughters, Catherine (John) Crawford and Ellen; brothers, John (Dianne) of Seabeck, Washington, David (Cynthia) of Duluth, Minnesota, and George (Linda) of New Glarus; cousins, Yvonne Colville (age 93) of Rochelle, Illinois, Anne (Ken Roberts) Colville of Belleville, and Bette Colville of Spooner; and eight nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and cousin, Jim Colville.

Bill’s family and friends have described him as smart, funny, talented, honest, nurturing, and friendly. He loved good music, played in a rock ‘n roll band with his old friends Rick Crowley and Jim Mankopf, enjoyed good food and beer, conversation, reading, Badger sports, walking the Lake Shore Path, and hanging out on the Union Terrace. He enjoyed walking, biking and playing basketball and softball with a great group of fellow teachers and other good buddies.

He was a passionate advocate for public education, science, and for our natural world. He and Kathy belonged to The Nature Conservancy and The Audubon Society and supported their mission to protect wild areas and bird populations, combat climate change, and advance outreach and education. He loved natural history, especially birding, hiking, and exploring biological treasures like the Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp, the Everglades, the Sonoran Desert, and closer to home Ferry Bluff, the UW Arboretum, Picnic Point, and the Glacial Drumlin Trail.

Bill’s greatest joy in life was his family. He felt that his greatest accomplishment was, together with Kathy, raising two little girls who grew up to be smart, accomplished, strong, caring, funny, and beautiful young women. Whether it was supporting them in school or 4-H, teaching them to ski, helping them learn right from wrong, or watching them put on skits for dear family friends Larry and Cheryl Crane, the girls knew they were loved and supported.

Summers at their family cabin in Douglas County provided plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring, picking blueberries, biking through the Brule River State Forest, picking apart scat to see what the raccoons had been eating, watching the warbler migration, identifying which frogs were chorusing, watching the seasonal progression of wildflowers, building stick houses, and dip netting for turtles. It was on the Upper St. Croix Lake that the girls learned how to swim and snorkel, fish for bluegills, and canoe the lake and the Brule River. The days were packed. Summers at the cabin were also a time when Bill got to see with his cousins, the Colville’s. He has many fond memories, from boyhood adventures with his cousin Jim to watching Anne and Yvonne become like another aunt and grandma to his girls.

Bill and Kathy would like to thank all the staff at the Carbone Cancer Center, his oncology team Dr. Josh Lang (MDMS) and Chessa Fischer (APNP), and the wonderful people at Agrace HospiceCare, especially Megan Maki (RN) and Angela Alexander. They would also like to thank the family and friends who supported them during Bill’s illness and helped them celebrate Bill’s life.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a charitable donation in Bill’s memory to the Madison Audubon Society or Agrace HospiceCare.

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Drive
(608) 221-5420