William Lawrence Sansom

William Lawrence Sansom

This website is a collection of some of the many things Bill Sansom produced during his life. This mini-biography is intended to give the context.

From the very beginning, Bill had music, flight and love of language in his life. Son of a PanAm airline pilot and a musician, the most formative years of Bill’s life were based in a place called Fiddler’s Green in Lloyd Neck, Huntington, providing him with a platform for all the adventures a kid could ever want growing up. He built and flew model airplanes, developed his music, photography and love of Long Island. Bill learned to sail on a Lightning and later crewed on racing boats off Block Island.

Bill attended Cold Spring Harbor High School where he excelled in sports and drama, started a band, and played for school dances. He rebuilt an old Jaguar and continued his writing, his pieces appearing in the school’s creative publications. Among the teachers who impacted Bill most were drama coach (English teacher) Howard Storm and of course the perfect soccer coach/role model Ralph Whitney. Physics teacher Les Paldy reconnected with Bill in later years, enjoying lively conversations often over a lobster lunch.

Following high school graduation, Bill succumbed to expectations and headed off to college. He learned best through curiosity and individual discovery, pursuing in depth the areas that interested him most at the time. He wound up at a college in Iowa, but when not enough curiosity was piqued, he took a break. While navigating his way back to learning during those Vietnam War years, his army draft letter arrived. His number had been low enough to be swept up and now college would take another back seat. His emotions were on full alert - Anger that it happened to him, Regret that he didn’t take action sooner, Fate that his life was no longer in his control, and then the anticipation and growing excitement that he could do this. At the Army induction center, while he and 40 other young guys were lined up, a Marine came in and announced he was looking for a few volunteers. Bill recognized that the challenge presented was what he needed and signed up.

Bill returned from Vietnam in 1966 with an AK-47 wound to his leg, earning him a Purple Heart. But as with many many other veterans, this injury never healed, revisiting him many years later. During his initial recovery, he resumed his music, writing and photography while completing his college education in Philosophy at C. W. Post College on Long Island. Bill’s working life included producing TV advertising spots, logistics for the US Postal Service, sales, lighting design with Starfire, and always looking for opportunities to play guitar.

Bill’s love of design, flight and fancy were happily married in the creation of a remote-controlled blimp that he and friend Bill Dotson designed and developed, then flew in the Guggenheim Museum, among other places.

In the 1980’s, Bill created and installed fiber optic lighting elements for night club environments in association with the Starfire Company. His work could be seen in the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco and the Visage Club in Manhattan, among other locations. He earned two patents based on his investigations:

- Fiber optic display device

- Fiber optic display device and method for producing images for same

When the infection from Bill’s leg wound suddenly resurfaced in 2015, extensive surgery and rehab at Veteran’s Administration facilities was required. Bound to a wheelchair for a year, he rediscovered photography as an expression of his new perspective. He explored any new field or phenomenon that took his interest, wrapping it into his emails or posing questions to his friends and his growing email list. Thus, we learned about cathedrals and colliders and debated the flight of birds.

Bill had an extraordinary gift for creating imagery through language. He had a great interest in life, knowledge, history and the value of perspective. He found connections between ideas and events that otherwise seemed unrelated. He sought ways to express these thoughts through his writings, and by sharing them, he made us stop and think, and frequently to engage.

During those years, Bill was a frequent participant in the VA’s National Creative Arts Competitions where his guitar skills earned him numerous awards.

Despite the efforts of many in the medical profession and the support of a small army of friends and family, Bill wasn’t able to overcome the perfect storm of the growing bone infection in his leg, lung disease, and weakened kidneys. He left us peacefully on July 4, 2019, Carol and Francee at his side.

The blimp flew again in Bill Dotson’s loft apartment at a memorial evening after Bill’s death.

Carol Sansom Cleveland

Francee Wasowski