July 28, 2014

William J. Adelman

William J. Adelman Jr. of Falmouth, an internationally recognized research scientist who upon his retirement became an active artist and businessman, died on April 9. He was 86.

Dr. Adelman, the son of William and Helen Adelman, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He was educated in the New York City public schools and Bronx High School of Science and earned his undergraduate degree from Fordham University, a master’s degree from the University of Vermont and his doctorate from the University of Rochester.

His career as a scientist and academic began in 1955 with the School of Aviation and Space Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio. He was a professor at the University of Buffalo and full professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore.

Until his retirement as chief of the laboratory of biophysics at National Institutes of Health, he directed laboratory research for the NIH at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, for 23 years, specializing in giant axon profusion studies on the squid nerve, technically called “excitable membrane” research.

A lifetime member of the MBL Society (formerly called the MBL Corporation), he also belonged to many professional societies and was elected to the board of trustees at the MBL from 1971 to 1975.

He collaborated and lectured internationally in neurophysiology and physics from the United Kingdom to Chile to Japan, among other countries.

Upon his retirement from science in 1994 he became a painter and businessman, opening the Apogee Gallery, and an art and theater critic for the Enterprise.

An award-winning painter who took top prizes in New England juried shows and won the Hane Medal of the School Art League of New York City, he was a member of the Boston Copley Society of Art, Cape Cod Art Association and Falmouth Artists Guild.

Active in community theater as a director and sometimes set designer since the 1970s, he belonged to the Falmouth Theatre Guild, Woods Hole Theater Company and Fireside Comedy Club.

He leaves his wife, Jean (Mayo) Adelman of Falmouth; his sons, Everett Mayo Adelman of Louisburg, North Carolina, and John W. Adelman of Woods Hole; a daughter, Willa Adelman Owings of San Francisco; and three grandchildren, Lucy Mayo of Birmingham, Alabama, Kendall Owings of Brooklyn, New York, and Spencer Owings of San Francisco.

A memorial service will be held later this summer.

Donations in his memory may be made to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA 02215.

Reprinted with permission from The Falmouth Enterprise