It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the sudden and unexpected death of our colleague, William Dantzler, MD, PhD, a member of the Founding Faculty at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, who passed away at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson on May 27 at the age of 86. He was widely regarded as the foremost international authority on comparative renal physiology and maintained a continuously funded research program for more than 37 years.
He was born in rural New Jersey in 1935 and grew up in Milwaukee, where his interest in biology was ignited as a high school student. He received an undergraduate degree in English from Princeton University, his medical degree from Columbia University, and his doctorate from Duke University, where he was trained in comparative renal physiology.
In 1968, Dr. Dantzler and his family moved to Tucson, where he was one of three founding faculty members of the Department of Physiology at the newly established College of Medicine – Tucson. Dr. Dantzler devoted his career to his department, where he rose through the ranks as a professor and eventually chair, and helped launch the undergraduate major in physiology and medical sciences — the university’s largest undergraduate major in the life sciences.
Over the course of his career, until he retired in 2005, he was a source of steady support for countless colleagues and trainees, and is remembered for his warmth, wisdom and compassion. Following his retirement, he remained a lifelong learner and explorer, continuing his passions for reading, theater, art, swimming and traveling.
Dr. Dantzler was predeceased by his son Kurt and is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Barb; his daughter, Amy; and brother, Bob. In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to Sculpture Tucson, the University of Arizona Museum of Art or the Rogue Theater. In a final act of devotion to his field, he donated his body to the UArizona Willed Body Program.