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In Memoriam: William R. “Bill” Giduz

by | May 14, 2024

William R. “Bill” Giduz, longtime public relations official for Davidson College, advocate for affordable housing, and committed community servant died May 11, 2024 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 72.

Born April 12, 1952 in Chapel Hill, NC, he was the oldest son of the late Roland and Helen Giduz. Their example instilled in him the value of civic engagement, the importance of a loving home where no one is a stranger, and the habit of quiet assistance to people in need. He attended Durham Academy and graduated from Chapel Hill High School. 

At 18, he arrived at Davidson College as a freshman intending to major in Math. After one calculus class with a prof nicknamed “The Smiling F” he switched to a History major and French minor. That shift led to the formative experience of his life: Junior Year Abroad in Montpellier, France. Bill considered his best year at Davidson College to be the year he wasn’t at Davidson. In France, he bonded with classmates who became lifelong friends, a second family, and instigators of some risky activities. The Université de Montpellier being on strike much of the year, they opted for experiential learning over the classroom, wandering all over Europe and working on their “passable kitchen French” as one of them called it. Upon their return to Davidson senior year, they had to take double course loads to graduate on time.

After graduation, Bill embarked on two epic trips in 1975. The first was a 2,700-mile drive from Algeria to Togo through Africa’s Sahara Desert with Davidson classmate “Bruno” Sorrentino in a Citroën 2CV, known as a deux chevaux, or, as others called it, “an umbrella on wheels.”  

Bill followed that with a two-and-a-half-month overland trip with his brother Bob that took them by buses and trains from Brussels, Belgium to New Delhi, India, including through Afghanistan’s Khyber Pass. Bill returned in the pink of health; Bob arrived home to undergo lengthy treatment for hepatitis and other ailments he acquired during the trip that almost killed him.

After earning a master’s degree in journalism from New York’s Columbia University and racking up $500 in parking tickets, Bill moved to Atlanta to work in public relations for Southern Bell. Collection Agents from NYC tracked him down there and extracted the parking fines. Bill remained on the right side of the law after that.

In January of 1980, he started work at Davidson College as news writer and college photographer. It turned into a 37-year public relations career. He was a common sight around the tree-lined campus, long legs pedaling his bike, camera slung around his neck, looking for the moments and events that make up the college experience. He made a significant contribution to the College’s photo archives. In 2009 the College art gallery held a 30-year retrospective of his Davidson photos.

While chronicling college life was his profession, his greatest achievements may have been building a family, and serving his community in many ways. In 1981 he married Ellen Weber. They met riding in the back of a pickup truck on the way to a picnic at Stone Mountain with mutual friends. It wasn’t love at first sight. “I actually had my eye on his roommate,” Ellen said. “But as I got to know this kind, quirky, intrepid adventurer, I knew that he was a “oner” and that life with him would never be dull!”

During their 43-year marriage, they had two children, Jenny and Luke, and became part of the fabric of the town of Davidson. Giduz threw himself into a variety of civic activities, ranging from elementary school reading buddy and juggling instructor to founding staffer and editorial board member of the online newspaper Believing that safe and affordable housing is the basis for strong communities, Bill got involved with local organizations dedicated to housing issues. He did writing and photography for Habitat for Humanity, Davidson Housing Coalition, the Rotary Club of Lake Norman, and various church efforts at Davidson United Methodist. 

“He published our monthly letter and was at house builds,” recalled Paul Leonard, who worked with Giduz for a decade at the Davidson Habitat for Humanity. Leonard went on to become a member of the international board of Habitat for Humanity, chairing it for two years, in addition to serving as interim CEO. “Bill was just always there to help us get the word out and get known in the community.”

Giduz was a recipient of the Town of Davidson’s Jack Burney Community Service Award for his positive impact on the town and its residents. Davidson College recognized him with its Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, for “unselfish service without due recognition.”

While Giduz enjoyed skiing, pickup basketball, bowling, and cycling—and even skydiving and spelunking–he made his biggest impact in juggling. 

After joining a fledgling group in Atlanta, he became active in the International Jugglers Association, applying his journalist’s skills to the organization’s management. He served as editor of Juggler’s World magazine from 1979-1996, and as president and a board member of the IJA. He’s credited with inventing “joggling”—simultaneously running and juggling—at one of the organization’s competitions. He helped organize local juggling groups and taught an accredited Phys. Ed. juggling class at Davidson. His love of juggling carried over to his family. His children remember being his “juggling props,” Luke, his son, said.  “He used to juggle us as babies along with two balls,” added his daughter, Jenny. His love of juggling is immortalized in a bench placed by the juggling community on the Davidson Village Green where he spent so many Sunday afternoons juggling and making new friends.

In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by his younger brothers Bob Giduz (Lee Carol) of Asheville and Tom Giduz (Betsy) of Chapel Hill, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte region website, at the Davidson Housing Coalition website, at the Davidson United Methodist Church website, or any other cause of your choice

The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at the Davidson United Methodist Church, with a reception to follow.

(Editors’ note: It is with such sadness that the editorial board of News of Davidson says goodbye to Bill Giduz. Bill was one of our founders, and his photography and writing illuminated our efforts and elevated us with his consistent excellence, insight, wisdom, and artistic talent. He was a beloved colleague and dear friend. He helped our readers see into life here with stories and photographs of citizens and organizations. No one ever loved this town more than Bill or gave it more of himself. We will miss him deeply.

David Cain of the International Jugglers Association wrote an obituary about Bill and we want to share a link to it.)

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