In Memoriam: William F. Girouard
But Girouard told friends that the most satisfying time in his life was the 22 years he spent teaching industrial and manufacturing engineering at Cal Poly Pomona.
“That’s what he enjoyed the most,” recalls friend and Industrial & Manufacturing Professor Phillip Rosenkrantz.
Girouard, who was a 2002 recipient of the George P. Hart Award for Outstanding Faculty Leadership, died Jan. 3 at the age of 91. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 11 in South Pasadena.
At an age when most people retire – indeed, he retired from a long career in engineering management at Singer-Librascope, which made early digital computers for the military – Girouard became a full-time lecturer at Cal Poly Pomona at 65 in 1986. He taught full time until he was 85, and, at the insistence of other faculty, continued to teach part time for another two years after that.
“He loved to teach. He loved students. He loved being around other people,” Rosenkrantz says. “And he had a very supportive wife. She kicked him out of the house, saying, ‘You should be out doing something.’”
Girouard was dedicated to teaching and to his students. He was faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers for more than 10 years. With his wife, Rita, he hosted a catered commencement reception for IME department graduates at their home for many years.
“The students are the whole reason for the university, and I am here to assist them with their career,” Giroaurd said in a 2002 interview. “We’ve got one of the finest engineering schools in the country, and for me to be able to take part and put out engineers is so important. Therefore, I have a real joy in seeing our students perform so well.”
In addition to receiving the Hart Award, Girouard was named Advisor of the Year in 1995. He was also selected as chair of the University General Education Committee.
“His first degree was in liberal arts. He was not the typical engineer. He could talk about literature or philosophy,” Rosenkrantz says. “It’s rare that a lecturer becomes chair of the GE Committee. Usually it’s someone in the College of the Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. He knew what he was talking about.”
Born and raised in Boston, where he was a neighbor of the Kennedys, Girouard earned bachelor’s degrees from Oberlin College and USC. He earned a master’s degree at USC as well. His teaching career began in 1947 and included stints in Boston public schools and the Friends Academy. While at Singer-Librascope, he taught part-time at nights at USC.
Girouard also served as a Marine Corps captain during World War II and major during the Korean War.
“The day after Pearl Harbor, I joined the Marine Corps because the country was at war and I thought it was important to get involved,” he recalled in the 2002 interview. “From there on, I’ve been that way all my life. I’ve always been involved with things.”
A longtime resident of South Pasadena, Girouard served as a planning commissioner; was president of the local homeowners’ association; and, along with his wife, raised funds for his local church parish’s capital campaign.
He served in the Academic Senate and was a fellow in the Institute for Engineering Advancement and the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Along with former Vice President for Student Affairs Gene Awakuni, he started the annual Veterans Day observance ceremony on campus.
A believer in lifelong learning, Girouard took care of some unfinished business after he retired from Cal Poly Pomona, earning his doctorate from Madison University. He also took piano lessons and art classes.
“He was always trying to learn,” Rosenkrantz says. “He was always looking ahead, not behind.”
Giroaurd is survived by his wife, Rita, and daughters Kathleen and Maureen.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Family Church, 1501 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. A reception will follow immediately at St. Joseph Center across the street. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Industrial Engineering Department at Cal Poly Pomona or to USC.
(Photos: top, William F. Girouard bearing the mace at the 2006 College of Engineering commencement ceremony; bottom, Girouard after being named a Hart Award recipient.)