In memoriam: Dr. William M. Pender Sr.

  • Nov. 2, 1922 - Dec. 8, 2017

    Tuesday, December 12, 2017

    Retired UMES educator William Madison Pender Sr. died Friday, Dec. 8 in a two-vehicle traffic accident within view of his home on U.S. Route 50 west of Salisbury. He was 95.

    Pender worked at the university for some three decades, starting in the fall of 1965 when the institution was known as Maryland State College. His first job was director of guidance and teacher training. 

    He was hired the same day in May 1965 as two other well-known and popular faculty members, Dr. Gerald W. Johnson (music) and Dr. William A. Lynk (natural sciences-math). 

    As a professor of education, Pender was on the front lines of training hundreds of future teachers who followed in his footsteps. He later took on more responsibilities by serving in academic leadership positions, including chairman of UMES' department of education and the top academic policymaking post, vice chancellor of academic affairs. 

    Pender was born in Dalton, Ga., Nov. 2, 1922 and enrolled in Morris Brown College in Atlanta in the fall of 1940, where he spent a year before eventually being inducted into the U.S. Army at the height of World War II. 

    His military records show he was a chaplain's assistant in the quartermaster's corps and was part of the 1944 expeditionary force that invaded Normandy in northern France. He was honorably discharged in late December 1945, receiving European-Africa-Middle East Theater service, good conduct and World War II victory medals. 

    Pender then enrolled in Morehouse College, earning a bachelor's degree in English while minoring in music, a life-long love that would endear him to the Lower Shore community. He went on to earn a master's in education from New York University and a doctorate in education psychology from the University of Texas. 

    Before moving to Princess Anne, he taught at an industrial school for boys in Florida, at Jarvis Christian College in Texas and at Jackson State College in Mississippi's capital city. 

    When asked on his job application why he wanted to “become associated with the UMES community” he wrote that the university “is small enough for a close, friendly and humane relations between faculty and students.” 

    Word of Pender's passing resonated deeply among those whose lives he touched as an educator, mentor and colleague. 

    “He was a kind-hearted, gentle giant - a friend to all,” said Dr. Mortimer H. Neufville, a former colleague. “He was well respected throughout the academic community. His concern for the welfare and success of students was at the forefront of his teaching and supervisory campus activities.” 

    “Dr. Pender always greeted you with a smile and a kind word, and never appeared to be flustered,” Neufville said. 

    Dr. Earl Richardson, another former colleague, said “everyone loved him. He was a family person. I never heard anyone say a bad word about him; (he was) extraordinary humble, a team player, easy to get along with … just a good person.” 

    Dr. Herman Franklin said Pender's "peers and former students will remember him as a giant of a man with the ability to teach to their level of student ability so that they could become gainfully employed and teach others the application of educational theory, manage classrooms and contribute positively in their chosen profession. His legacy is strong." 

    Marvin Jones, a 1975 UMES alumnus, called Pender a “no-nonsense” professor who was “a superb teacher possessing an ability to turn marginal into exceptional.” 

    “As an academic adviser,” Jones said, “Doc kept those of us majoring in education on target and fully prepped for a journey well beyond our baccalaureate pursuit. In his calm yet conquering voice, Doc provided hope through academic, social, financial and even family struggles by keeping each of us focused on the 'Prize'” of graduation. 

    Ernest Satchell, a retired UMES educator, also remembered Pender as “being a kind person who went to great lengths to avoid controversy. He would almost always address both sides of an issue.” 

    “It was often said if you greeted him with good morning, he would probably say 'yes it is, but then again it may rain',” Satchell said.

    Dr. Brenda Wade said "When I remember Dr. Pender, I always think of what a kind and gentle soul he was. He truly loved the UMES community, both as a professor and administrator, and he was loved by all of us."  

    Pender, a slight man who stood 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall, was a fixture behind the organ at two local churches - Metropolitan United Methodist in Princess Anne and (part-time at) St. James AME Zion in Salisbury. 

    “He was truly a master of his gifts and a pure joy to work with,” Barbara Gordy said. 

    Pender played the organ at Dr. Della Dameron-Johnson's 1979 wedding “and did a beautiful rendition of The Lord's Prayer as a musical solo,” she recalled. 

    When Omega M. Jones Frazier, a Princess Anne Academy and Morgan College alumna, died in 2001, her son Bill Jones requested “a medley of (both school's) alma maters to honor her and our family's love for both institutions. He worked that Metropolitan United Methodist Church organ flawlessly. I wish there was a recording.” 

    Brenda Warwick said, “Dr. Pender … treated everyone with respect. He was very polite and mannerly, a quiet, soft-spoken gentleman. I truly don't know of anyone who would have an unkind word to say about him.”

    Pender was a member of Phi Delta Kappa fraternity, International, a professional organization for educators and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.