Ca. 7,000 year old caribou mandible from the Tingmiukpuk archaeological site in Gates of the Arctic National Park. NPS photo by Jeff Rasic


Celebrating the life of William Bates Workman

Date Posted: November 11, 2021       Categories: Uncategorized
One of the pillars of northern anthropology, William B. Workman, passed away on Thursday, November 4, 2021. He was 81.
Bill first came to Alaska as a student in 1962, one of an interdisciplinary team of University of Wisconsin-based researchers that included William Laughlin, Richard Nelson, and Allen McCartney. He went to Kodiak Island, where he worked with Donald Clark. In subsequent years, Bill worked not only on Kodiak, but also in the Alaskan and Canadian interiors and the Kachemak Bay area. After his marriage to Karen in 1967, they collaborated on much of their research.
Always a true gentleman with a characteristic dry humor, Bill served as Professor of Anthropology for nearly 40 years, from 1969 to 1976 at Alaska Methodist University (where he became only the third archaeologist in Alaska) and from 1977 until his 2005 retirement as Emeritus Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. After retirement, Bill continued his research and work with students.
Bill leaves an impressive legacy. His published contributions to northern anthropology; his service as co-founder, president, and board member to the Alaska Anthropological Association; the generations of students he mentored in the classroom and the field; and, most of all, his fair, kind, and collegial way of dealing with everyone. He will be sorely missed.
For those interested in more details about Bill and his contributions, a 2008 volume of the Alaska Journal of Anthropology (Vol. 6, Nos. 1&2) was published in his honor.
Karen Workman, Bill’s wife of 53 years, can be reached upon request. An obituary should be published in the Anchorage Daily News in the coming week. Because of the pandemic, a memorial gathering will be held at a later date.