The Barefoot Professor


February 2014

The Barefoot Professor…Aiden Roberts

I am presently reading very closely The Barefoot Professor by Dr. William B. Buck. He prefers to be called Bill. Bill and I met last October when he attended a meeting of the book club held at the Morrin Center . We were discussing Life of Pi that evening. Bill had not actually read the book, but had rather listened to it on cassettes as his eyesight is very poor. He explained that he had been living with diabetes for over sixty years. During the evening, Bill informed us that he had written his autobiography, and I suggested that he present his book at the Center. Bill liked the idea and I contacted the Morrin Center and on Thursday, February 20 from 6 to 8 pm, people are invited to come to hear Bill talk about the story of his life.

Bill’s autobiography is a very honest account of the first 80 years of his life. He was born in Missouri in 1933 into a family who lived modestly on a farm. Bill and his older brother went barefoot during the summer while tending to their chores in order to keep their shoes in good condition so they could attend school in the fall and winter. This young hardworking boy from a modest background would go on to become a successful professor at Iowa State University (ISU) and the University of Illinois (U of I) and a world-renowned veterinary toxicologist before retiring in 1996. He and his wife now live in St- Sylvester, Quebec and Vermont.

In his autobiography, Bill shares many aspects of his life with the reader who gets to discover a person rich in experience, both personally and professionally. We encounter a man who writes about his many accomplishments, but yet does not refrain from recounting his weaknesses and his failures. In his book, Bill talks about some of the turning points of his life, thanks those who have helped him along the way, tells of the joys and trials of raising six children, writes about the pain of divorce, speaks glowingly of the bliss of finding true love in midlife, relates the struggle of living with a life threatening disease, tells of his many hobbies, explains the results of his entrepreneurial spirit, recounts his many narrow escapes, communicates his pleasure in traveling, takes time to explain his philosophy of life and his religious beliefs, expresses his hope for the future, touches on the loss of love ones…

I am busy preparing questions to ask Bill about certain aspects of his life as related in his book. You are invited to come on February 20th and hear Bill’s answers and then to ask some of your own questions. You may even be tempted to buy a copy of The Barefoot Professor and have Bill sign it. I am convinced you will be delighted to meet and to chat with this down-to-earth, soft-spoken gentleman with his southern accent who is looking forward to sharing his insights into life and love with both younger and older generations. Perhaps he will inspire you to write your autobiography, or to help your parents or grandparents write theirs.

(Picture of Dr. Buck presenting a copy of his autobiography to librarian Cheryl Anne Moore)


Picture by Aiden Roberts)


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