Born on April 5, 1943 in York, PA, he was the son of Clarence M. Lawyer Jr and Katherine (Frei) Lawyer. He attended Duke University, graduating with an A.B.in 1965. After college he married Sharon, his high school sweetheart, and they left immediately for a two-year Peace Corps posting in the Philippines. After their return, he received an A.M. at Yale University.
In the summer of 1969 the Lawyers moved to Rye, NY, where he began teaching in the history department of Rye Country Day School. Bill became director of the Greenburgh Nature Center (GNC) in 1978 and steered it to significant growth during his 30-year tenure. He loved interacting with visitors both young and old and established many treasured traditions, including the Maple Sugaring Weekend.
A lifelong environmental advocate, Bill was involved with the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County, the Environmental Advocates of NY and the Rye Conservation Commission/Advisory Council, and he often traveled to Albany to lobby in support of these organizations and the GNC. After retiring from the GNC in 2008, Bill worked part time as Assistant Director for Community Relations at the Rye Town Park, where he brought his knowledge of environmental issues, assisting with a park tree survey and promoting pollinator gardens, as well as his love for people-centered events, helping arrange public art installations, the park concert series and beach clean-ups. He also wrote many nature-focused articles for the Rye Record, his local newspaper.
Outside of his work, Bill volunteered with the Rye Democrats for decades, and he was an avid runner and cyclist. Some of his greatest pleasures were meeting fellow dog owners on early morning walks in Rye Town Park, traveling with Sharon and family to France, England, and Bethany Beach, listening to and playing music with his guitar, and gatherings with extended family.
Bill was predeceased in 2017 by his wife of 52 years, Sharon, and is survived by his brother, Marty Lawyer of Dunedin, FL and his sister Becky Carr (Ron) of Sarasota, FL; his sister-in-law Shelby Ness (Ron) of Plainfield, IL; his daughter Katie Sperling (Matthew), of New York, NY, his son Liam Lawyer (Kerrie), of Montclair, NJ; his treasured grandchildren, Benjamin and Julia Sperling, and Isabelle and Jake Lawyer; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Rye Presbyterian Church in Rye, NY on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Bill’s memory to the Greenburgh Nature Center or the Friends of Rye Town Park.