William S. Treese Sr. of Eastham died at home on Dec. 26, 2022. The cause of death, confirmed by his son, William, was congestive heart failure. He was 86.
The son of William Sherratt Treese and Mary Rintoul Treese, William was born on Oct. 28, 1936 in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. He spent most of his childhood summers at his grandparents’ cottage and later year-round home in Orleans. He worked as a lifeguard at Nauset Beach in addition to putting in hours at the original Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Orleans, now the site of the Lost Dog Pub.
He attended Shady Side Academy, an independent preparatory school in the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel, where he excelled in multiple sports. He loved baseball, and during his college summers in the late 1950s he played for the then Orleans Red Sox (now the Firebirds) in the Cape Cod Summer League.
His deepest athletic passion, however, was wrestling, a sport he remained engaged with for the rest of his life.
After graduating from Shady Side in 1954, William attended Princeton University, where he was a varsity wrestler and acceded to his parents’ desire that he pursue a premed major. After two years, however, he decided to do what he loved and study English literature. That decision shaped his subsequent career.
After Princeton, William earned a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania. As a graduate student, he picked up some teaching jobs at local independent schools; he also taught an English literature class for Penn’s Wharton School of Business.
With his M.A. in hand, experience teaching English literature, and exposure to the culture at Wharton, William, urged by his family to go into business, decided to take a job as a commodities trader for a company in the World Trade Center. He traded grain for companies including Heinz, Pillsbury, and Pabst.
In 1972, William met Judith Kesten; they married in 1975. Seeking a less hectic environment, they relocated to William’s hometown, where he worked as a financial planner for Gulf Oil. Their son was born in 1982.
In the late 1980s, Gulf gave William an ultimatum: relocate to Houston or lose your job. Because he took little pleasure from his years in business and because his love for English literature and for teaching was still strong, William cast a wide net in search of an independent school English teaching job. He found one at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Because Wolfeboro was a little too rural for Judith, after a few years William accepted a position at Worcester Academy, a move that brought most of the pieces of his life together.
In addition to teaching English there for 18 years, William was department head for 15 of those years; he won many in-house teaching awards, was faculty adviser to the student newspaper, coached both baseball and wrestling, and was head of the New England Independent School Wrestling Association.
But because he and his family lived on campus and he served as a dorm parent, he and Judith decided to find a house in Provincetown and make that their permanent residence. They bought a condo at 237 Bradford St. in the early 1990s, and in 2000, they bought a house in Eastham.
In 2004, Judith died of breast cancer at age 54. William said his father was devastated. “Heartbreak,” he said, “became a part of my father’s last years.” Even as he lost weight because of his recent illness leaving his wedding ring too big for his finger, he insisted on wearing it, William said.
Despite his sadness, William never lost his sense of humor, which his son described as “dry, sarcastic, inflected by his literary training.” His jokes were full of literary allusions, “references to things most people didn’t get,” William said. “My father was content,” William added, “but he remained sad.”
He is survived by his son, William Treese Jr. of Eastham; his younger brother, John Treese of Eastham; and three nephews and a niece.
He was predeceased by his wife and his older brother, James Treese.