The Times
  • William J. Moynihan, Ph.D.

  • William J. Moynihan, Ph.D., of Eaton Street, passed away Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 at his home.

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  • William J. Moynihan, Ph.D., of Eaton Street, passed away Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 at his home.
    He was born April 8, 1942 in Little Falls, a son of Bernard and Mary Flynn Moynihan. He graduated from Baker High School in Baldwinsville, received a B.A. from SUNY Binghamton, an M.A. from Colgate University and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University. He was united in marriage to Irene Shields in 1966 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse. She predeceased him in November 2010.
    Mr. Moynihan served in various leadership positions at Colgate University, including chairman of the education department, assistant and associate dean of the faculty/provost, dean of students and dean of the college. He left Colgate to become vice president and director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. While there, he led the reconstruction of its famous dinosaur halls, the building of new space for the largest natural history library in the Western world, and several other major projects. He spent the final years of his career as president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Public Museum. During his time in Milwaukee, the museum’s attendance grew to one million, membership grew from 4,000 to 20,000, several new major exhibits and wings were added, an ambitious temporary exhibit program was initiated, the first major capital campaign was successfully conducted and the endowment grew by several times.
    With tongue in cheek, he would respond to questions about the highlights of his career as including sitting in Captain Kirk’s chair from the original bridge of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise; waiting for Scotty to beam him up in the Transporter from the same museum exhibit and in a more serious way, being the parade marshal for downtown Milwaukee’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
    Mr. Moynihan served as a trustee on numerous national boards, including the American Association of Museums; the Alliance of National History Museums; the New York State Museum; the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters; the Lunt and Fontanne Home Museum; the National Council of Alverno College and the Info-Quest Foundation for Research in Paleontology, amongst others. He also was advisory editor and book and exhibit reviewer for “Curator: The Museum Journal.” He also served on numerous local boards, including being a founding board member of the Southern Madison County Ambulance Corps; president of St. Mary’s Parish Council in the 1980s; a commissioner of the Municipal Utilities Commission and a trustee of the Hamilton Public Library, amongst many others.
    Surviving are his children, Patricia Moynihan, of Alexandria, Va., Erin (Kenneth) Caswell, of Falmouth, Mass., and Sean Moynihan, of Ithaca; grandchildren, McKayla and Colleen Caswell and Liam Moynihan; brother, Bernard (Gail) Moynihan, of Herkimer; sister, Kathleen Moynihan, of Little Falls; brothers-in-law, Eugene Shields, of Charlotte, N.C., Allen (Maxine) Shields, of Syracuse, and Michael (Patricia) Shields, of Tamarac, Fla.; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by a brother, James Moynihan.
    Page 2 of 2 - A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, from St. Mary’s Church, 16 Wylie St., Hamilton. Interment in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Hamilton, will be private at the convenience of the family. Friends are invited to call at the Burgess and Tedesco Funeral Home, 25 Broad St., Hamilton, on Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. The rosary will be recited at 5:30 p.m.
    Contributions in his memory may be made to the Milwaukee Public Museum, 100 W. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI 43233; St. Mary’s Church, 16 Wylie St., Hamilton, NY 13346; the Southern Madison County Ambulance Corps (SOMAC), P.O. Box 453, Hamilton, NY 13346 or to a charity of your choice.
    To send a condolence or sign the Book of Memories online go to www.burgessandtedescofuneralhomes.com.