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Employee Portrait Gallery—Bill Dunkle

spacer Employee Portrait of the Week - Bill Dunkle

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Bill Dunkle, right, and Charlie Innis draft bathymetric profiles in 1959. They were long-time colleagues in the geophysics group and also carpooled to WHOI from North Falmouth and Hatchville for more than a decade. (Photo courtesy of Bill Dunkle)


Fresh out of the army in 1953, Bill Dunkle put his paratrooper mapmaking skills to work in Johnny Stimpson’s drafting group on the third floor of the Bigelow lab. However, Bill thought he’d like to go to sea and persuaded Val Worthington to take him on a Caryn cruise the following year to make BT and Nansen bottle stations. In 1955, Bill moved to Brackett Hersey’s geophysics group, where over 11 years he logged a lot of time at sea, aboard Atlantis, Bear, Yamacraw, Chain, Crawford, and Atlantis II, in Navy submarines, and in the air on the Institution’s PBY aircraft. His at-sea adventures included participating in the search for the for the sunken U.S. Navy submarine Thresher and three weeks on a cement barge on St. John’s River in Canada with Chuck Officer, looking for bedrock to site a dam.

He also began his archiving career with organizing, cataloging, and filing the Hersey group’s data. Eventually, that data library expanded to include data from many sectors of the Institution, and Bill also took on responsibility for the WHOI Archives with its 12 million photos and other images, 60,000 maps and charts, vast administrative files, and other materials. Geochemist Dan McCorkle, whose McLean office is near the Archives, dubbed him “director of institutional memory,” and when Bill retired in 1994 with 41 years of service, naval historian Gary Weir said he had “preserved WHOI’s soul.” The Archives included hundreds of oceanographic instruments that were regarded by some administrators as junk but treasured by Bill, whose wisdom in this regard was proven when Weir chose some of them for the U.S. Navy Museum’s historic instruments exhibit currently on display in the Clark Laboratory lobby.

A long-time Falmouth Town Meeting member, Bill has for many years also lent his expertise to the Falmouth Historical Society, which honored him with its Heritage Award in 2001.













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