In Remembrance: William J. Hearn Jr. ’50 Died on December 7 2022

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William John Hearn Jr., business executive and loving husband, died unexpectedly December 7, 2022.  He would have been 94 years old on Christmas Eve.  

Bill was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on December 24, 1928, to William John Hearn (Yale Sheffield 1918) and Alice Moran Riley.  His family soon moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Bill grew up amidst the natural beauty of the Berkshires. Bill was president of his Pittsfield High School class for both his junior and senior years, graduating in 1946. He enjoyed returning to Pittsfield for every class reunion up to and including the 60th.  

Bill followed his father to Yale and graduated in 1950 with an economics and political science degree. Bill loved his time in New Haven. He was a member of Saybrook College and Fence Club. In subsequent years, Bill and Dianne treasured their annual tradition of tailgating with Yale and Harvard alumni friends and cheering on the Bulldogs at the Yale-Harvard football games. The day always ended with Dianne and Bill hosting a dinner in their Duxbury, Massachusetts, home, with Bill in charge of collecting the $1.00 wagers and distributing the spoils to the winners.

The Korean War began in 1950, and Bill enlisted in the US Air Force. He graduated from Officer Candidate School and served for three years, including one year in Japan as a first lieutenant in charge of air traffic control.  Bill was honorably discharged at the war’s end in 1953.  

After returning home, Bill began his advertising and marketing career with General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York.  That same year, Bill rekindled a friendship with his future wife, Dianne Battles, at the wedding reception of a mutual friend.  They were married at St. Bernard’s Church in Waterville, New York, on February 19, 1955.  

In 1963 Bill accepted a management position with Instron Corp., Canton, Massachusetts, and the now five-member Hearn family moved to Duxbury. Bill and Dianne soon became active members of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Duxbury Yacht Club. Bill volunteered on the St. John’s finance committee and as a stalwart usher at the 8 a.m. Sunday service.  He also volunteered for many years with the Duxbury Yacht Club tennis committee. He and Dianne spent many happy summer afternoons overseeing various member-guest invitational tournaments. One of Bill’s most meaningful Duxbury volunteer experiences was his role as a trustee of the Partridge Fund; he was very proud of the many college scholarships awarded to numerous Duxbury students.  In addition, Bill volunteered at various times with the Duxbury Art Association, Duxbury Recreation Department, and  Duxbury Historical Society. 

In 1972 Bill founded W. J. Hearn & Co., a marketing and public relations firm. He remained president of the company until his retirement in 2003. In 2019, after living 46 years in their home, Bill and Dianne moved to The Village of Duxbury. Bill greatly enjoyed the camaraderie and support he and Dianne found there. 

A true romantic who once said his favorite movie was Titanic, Bill will be remembered for his devotion to his wife, the woman who for the 67 years of their marriage remained forever beautiful in his eyes. During the fall, winter, and spring months, Bill’s nightly lighting of and tending to their home’s fireplaces served as a metaphor for his dedication to Dianne’s comfort and that of their children.  

Bill had a wonderful sense of humor, delighting in jokes and word play even as other aspects of his memory began to fade. He greatly enjoyed tennis, playing in men’s doubles and mixed-doubles groups for years. He also embraced the occasional golf game, reading thriller/mystery novels, playing bridge, birding, offering unsolicited advice to the team coaches throughout many years of Red Sox and Patriots broadcasts, and accompanying his wife to the opera. Bill was the family’s outdoor chef throughout countless Duxbury summers, specializing in the grilling of steaks rare enough to be proclaimed “still kicking”!

Bill was predeceased by his parents and two older sisters, Jane Ellen Hearn and Elizabeth Frances Hearn. He is survived by his three children and their families: Ellen Hearn Parker and her husband Timothy; Amy Hearn Duke (Yale ’79); William John Hearn III and his wife, Leesa; ten grandchildren and their spouses; and ten great-grandchildren.

Bill’s memorial service was held December 15, 2022, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Duxbury, Massachusetts. Interment was at St. John’s Cemetery. Contributions in Bill’s memory may be made to the Partridge Academy at Duxbury, P.O. Box 2552, Duxbury, MA 02331.

—Submitted by the family.

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