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25 Broad Street
Hamilton, NY 13346
Phone: 315-824-2417
Fax: 315-825-3526
William Oostenink

William J. "Bill" Oostenink

May 23, 1935 - September 6, 2020
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HAMILTON: William J. (Bill) Oostenink, Professor of Biology Emeritus at Colgate University, passed away at Community Memorial Hospital in Hamilton on Sunday, September 6, 2020. He was 85. He came to Hamilton in 1965 having received an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Colgate where he taught for 32 years. He had previously taught at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and the University of Iowa the institution from which he also received his doctoral (PhD) degree.
He graduated from Calvin College in 1956 with majors in Music and Natural Sciences both fields in which he maintained strong interests throughout his life. He received M.S. and doctoral (PhD) degrees from the University of Iowa where he was trained as an Experimental Plant Morphologist in that Institution’s Department of Botany. Combining microscopy, genetics and plant anatomy/physiology, an EPM seeks to describe how plant organs develop their mature form and function and to study how the many steps in those developmental processes are directed and controlled by the interaction of environmental and genetic factors. He was especially interested in apical meristems (the growing point(s) found at the apex of every stem) which, under certain conditions, stop making leaves and increasing stem length and, instead, begin to produce flowers. His research and publications dealt with this phenomenon especially as it occurs in the plant family Caryophyllaceae.
He had a great love for teaching and reveled in his interactions with students. During his time at Colgate he taught courses in Introductory Plant Science, Plant Anatomy, Plant Physiology, Genetics and Electron Microscopy/Cellular Ultrastructure as well as contributing lectures in the Department’s Introduction to Biology and the University’s General Education programs. He was also Colgate’s first Dean of Freshman, directed the Colgate Family Summer Program and taught in and directed the IBM sponsored Colgate/IBM Summer Institute for Middle Management Executives as well as the National Science Foundation sponsored Summer Institute for Junior High School Teachers of General Science. He served as the University Marshal for 25 years.
His booming baritone voice, well known on campus, which helped make him a popular lecturer also led to his becoming the Voice of Colgate Football and the voice behind the telephone greetings used by several campus departments and, for a time, the University itself. In retirement, his voice was heard on radio station WCNY-FM (Classic FM) in Syracuse where he served as a volunteer Announcer/Producer for almost 12 years. He was an avid singer, providing music for countless church services, weddings and funerals throughout central New York and as the bass soloist for several well-known oratorios and requiem masses presented by choral groups throughout the Central New York area. He also enjoyed rolls in a number of the area’s Musical Theater productions (Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, and Kiss Me Kate, among others).
He loved the Hamilton Community and contributed to life there by serving on the Hamilton Central School Board, Hamilton Public Library Board and the Internal Review Board of Community Memorial Hospital. A 50-year member of Hamilton Lodge #120 Free and Accepted Masons, he served the Craft as Master and as District Deputy Grand Master of the Cortland-Madison District in 1974-75.
He is survived by his wife Gretchen, a son Chris (Carita) of Lakeville, CT., two granddaughters, Annika and Eden, a sister, Garneth of Sioux City, IA., and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Gerrit and Hattie Oostenink of Hull, IA., and by three sisters, Bonnie Geels of Sheldon, IA., Lorraine Oostenink of Sioux City, IA., and Verna Bouma of Grand Rapids, MI.
Interment in the Colgate Cemetery is private.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Burgess & Tedesco Funeral Home, 25 Broad St., Hamilton, NY
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Colgate University Cemetery
    Oak Drive
    HAMILTON, NY 13346
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
Services are private


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4 trees have been planted in memory of William J. "Bill" Oostenink

Stuart & Sylvia Infantine and Family

Posted at 03:01pm
How appropriate that Bill's memory will be identified with his love of biology/botany.

3 trees were planted in the memory of William Oostenink

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Stu Infantine

Posted at 12:15pm
Until I read Bill’s obituary, I was not aware that one of his undergraduate majors was music. He was magnificent, playing central roles in many productions produced by local music theater. He was a menacing Jud Fry in “Oklahoma” and consumed the stage as Petruchio in “Kiss Me Kate.” Bill was horrified that he was required to wear tights in this delightful musical. Wardrobe had to contact Broadway to locate a tunic suitable for his girth. This garment was previously worn by Dan Blocker, “Hoss” in the long-running television western “Bonanza.” Bill also lent his powerful baritone to the choir at St. Mary’s Church in Hamilton, one of several “ringers’ recruited by Sylvia Infantine. Among his eclectic achievements, Bill was a vastly superior photographer with a critical eye for dimension, detail and balance. He captured the essence of winter in Hamilton with a photo of the stone bridge on he Oak Drive. It was on the cover of the February, 1968 issue of COLGATE. Also, he hand-picked leaves from the trees, not from the ground, as background for the University’s handbook and the frosh beanie “72” for the COLGATE cover in September, 1968. After Jimmy Breslin’s rollicking tale, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” was published, Bill always called me Baccala. Sylvia was Mrs. Baccala. What wonderful memories we have of our times with Bill and Gretchen. In our last exchange of e-mails acknowledging his 85th birthday in May, Bill wrote:”. . . think of us who remember you both with great fondness and who send you love and immense gratitude for the friendship we have shared.”
Pensa a me con un sorriso nel tuo cuore perche volo con gli angeli e ballo tra le stelle –‘Think of me with a smile in your heart for I fly with angels and dance amongst the stars.’
Stu Infantine

Anne Caton Posted at 01:20pm

Those are beautiful sentiments and memories. My mother directed him in some of those shows and she fawned over his rich baritone voice. He was a genuine treasure. Anne Keefe Caton

Russell Woglom

Posted at 04:25pm
With loving memories of "William Oostenink",
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Russell Woglom

Posted at 04:22pm
To his loving family,
i was so saddened to hear about Dr O's passing. I was a Biology major and premed in the late 70's. He was a MAJOR influence in my life even though I was more of an 'animal' bio kind of guy. I took his Electron Microscope class, his Genetics class and loved both of them. He was much more than a teacher to me and I called him several times after my Colgate years to thank him for everything he did for me. He was most modest about it but I was so sincere that he truly made a difference in my life. He was a very unique man, but I loved the complexity of his character. Football, music and academics in an era that music and football did not often mingle. He was a large man with a resounding baritone voice. He could have stared down any tough guy but turn around and be kind a second later. He really helped make my Colgate years special. To his family, please know that he made a difference for so many of us during our 'informative years'. And as a human being, he was so special. My most sincere condolences to his family and all of the Colgate Community. I love that man! Russ Woglom MD, '80

Jean Getchonis

Posted at 05:19pm
I am so sorry for your loss. Bill was a wonderful man - always with a smile or laugh. He was amazing. His voice was incredible. I'm sorry not to hear it again. My prayers are with your family.

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