RIP: William ‘Bill’ Houston Chalker – WC Oxford supporter

It was with sadness that we learnt of the passing of Bill Chalker in Sonoma (California) in 2016. His association with Warnborough College began in 1971/2 while he was on sabbatical from the College of Idaho. While in Oxford, he met Dr Brenden Tempest-Mogg, and heard about the proposed new college for American Study Abroad students, to give them the ‘Oxford experience’. Bill wanted to be part of the inaugural fall semester. He was indeed. He came in September 1973 with 15 junior students from the College of Idaho where he was professor of Sociology.

These students joined other students from America and all were allocated individual Oxford tutors for their courses for credits. The Oxford tutorial system was a challenge for them, but they soon adapted to the Socratic method of learning, used by Oxford and Cambridge universities for centuries. Comments in the visitor’s book summed up their Warnborough experience: “wonderful way to learn“, “for once I am speechless“, “a tremendous year learning about life”.

The highlight of their semester was attending the formal opening ceremony of Warnborough held at Rhodes House. Local dignitaries attended, including the Lord Mayor of Oxford and university dons. Sir Christopher White, Bt. welcomed guests, and Sir Edgar Williams, the Warden of Rhodes House (Chief of Intelligence to Field Marshall Montgomery in World War II), expressed his delight about this unique opportunity for American students.

A letter of good wishes from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (then Minister for Education) was read out by Rev. Dr Karl G. Garrison, Jr. from Bethany College (West Virginia). Karl had recruited a group of junior students from his college for the January Term 1973.

The founder of Warnborough, Ethyl M Tempest-Mogg, and her son, Brenden, were pleased that Warnborough was now underway, and thankful for so much local and international support that made this event memorable.

Bill last visited Warnborough in 2010.  2017 marks 44 years since Warnborough was founded, and supporters like Bill Chalker will always be remembered for their enthusiasm and commitment to a new venture for overseas students. We salute Bill and those early students.