William “Bill” Roger Jobin, cherished husband to Judith Walker, whom he married on the occasion of their 70th birthdays, died Dec. 21, 2020. Beloved dad, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend.
Born in Chicago, Ill., to a large and loving family, Bill’s intellectual capacity and faith-based activism led him all over the world. He was the first in his family to attend college (at age 16), earning engineering degrees from MIT in hydraulics and sanitary engineering, and a doctorate from Harvard in tropical public health. Influenced by the international students he met in college, he resolved to use what he knew about water to help people in under-developed tropical countries.
Bill chose to work for the U.S. Public Health Service instead of being drafted by the U.S. Army in the early 1960s, and accepted work at the Centers for Disease Control in Puerto Rico, helping eradicate Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) from the island; he worked on pollution recovery in the Charles River, Boston; served as director of the Blue Nile Health Project, for the World Health Organization in Sudan, applying an integrated strategy for control of Malaria, Bilharzia, and other diseases in the Gezira Scheme in central Sudan, the largest irrigation scheme under single management in the world; he founded Blue Nile Associates, a consulting firm that worked on health impact assessments of large water and energy projects in the tropics, and Colorado Valley Ecologists, for work in the western U.S. Along the way, he published two major technical books on dams, and authored more than 50 scientific articles, including one measuring the horse-power of freshwater snails.
Bill made a point to learn Spanish, French, Portuguese and rudimentary Arabic, so he could be more effective working throughout the world, eventually working professionally in 43 different countries. In 2005, he helped start the U.S. Presidential Malaria Initiative.
Children and church were integral parts of Bill’s life. Through the youth group at Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Boston, he met his first wife, Sally Fritz. Both Maria and Camille were born in Puerto Rico, while they attended Iglesia de Dios, Cataño, then the Catedral de San Juan. Andy and Sara were born in Foxboro, where they established and renewed a long and rich association with St. Mark’s Church.
While in Barakat, Sudan, where he lived with his second wife, Enid Acosta, and their son Hector, he was a member of the Episcopal Church of Wad Medani, and then later, when they moved to Colorado with Laura and Will who were both born in Massachusetts, they joined the First Baptist Church of Dolores. He and his wife Judith were active members of St. Barnabas, Cortez, Colorado, and St. Mark’s Church Foxboro, seasonally moving between their homes in Cortez and North Attleboro.
He helped teach confirmation classes, worked as a lay reader, served on vestries and search committees, sang his heart out, and drew great strength from good preaching and the ministers who engaged with him in theological debate. He enjoyed each of his children, traveling to and with each of them, and each in their own way.
Bill’s faith inspired his life-long activism, including picketing Boston Woolworth lunch counters; refusing to pay federal taxes in protest of the Vietnam War, then later the Gulf War; and sitting-in, in Mass. Governor Sargent’s office to pardon Malik Hakim, who had been working to expose Boston Police involvement in drug trafficking. He was jailed overnight, in Selma, Ala., after participating in non-violent protests with Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of the Voting Rights Act — two weeks after Bloody Sunday, where Congressman John Lewis and others were violently attacked. He volunteered as a “bodyguard” for Martin Luther King Jr. who came to Boston in 1965 to speak against the de facto segregation of the Boston Public Schools. Freedom songs were the sound track he chose, along with Abba and John Denver.
An innate engineer, Bill always enjoyed a good construction project — a breezeway, a garage, a passive-solar water-filtration system for snails in the garage, a concrete driveway, a cabin, an ice-hockey rink in the backyard, an irrigation system to water the lawn, and a larger than life chess board in the front yard.
He volunteered in Nicaragua, helping the Sandinistas build a health center and gray-water system in Quetzelquaque. He was proud to have helped design and build a Hogan with Navajo friends in Colorado.
Full of stories that grew more entertaining with age, we will all miss his true tales of the losing MIT ice hockey team (38 losses and 1 win in 4 years), smuggling snails, sailing, volleyball until dusk in San Juan, and Wad Medani, needing only one contact after wearing thick, heavy eyeglasses for 58 years, and sleeping on shower curtains under the stars.
Predeceased by his parents Robert Marcel Jobin and Laura Kieft, brother John “Jack” Jobin, Bill is survived by his wife Judith Jobin, brother Tom Jobin (Sherry), sister-in-law Peggy Jobin, children Maria Jobin-Leeds (Greg), Andrew Jobin, Camille Jobin-Davis (Kevin), Sara Tarana Jobin, Hector Negron-Acosta, Laura Jobin-Acosta, William Jobin-Acosta; grandchildren Nathaniel, Aviva, Zander, Eliza, Mae, Caledonia; and his Estes family, Nathanial Estes (Anne), Gen Geer (Sam), Ethan Estes (Lisa), Jasper, Ronin, Elliot; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Foxboro Discretionary Fund through St. Mark’s Church, Foxboro.
The Jobin family invites you to join them for the spreading of the ashes in the Memorial Garden of St Mark’s Church, Foxboro, on Saturday, June 12, at 2 p.m., immediately followed by stories, music, and remembrances of Bill’s life, then light refreshments.
Masks are welcome but not required. If you would like to bring finger food to share, you are welcome.
Rain date June 13 at 2 p.m. Please call 518-229-5369 with questions.