William John Slack, 91, passed away August 9, 2021 in the care of his family and Home Hospice. He was born September 25, 1929 in Baltimore, MD to Dr. Walter Knapp and Ruth McClelland Slack. The family which included sister Mary and brother Walter returned to Saginaw, Michigan, their hometown, soon after.
Bill graduated from Saginaw High School in 1947 and enrolled in Alma College, Alma, MI. Midway through his college career, he joined the Naval Reserve and finished his pre-med degree in Biology. He was called to duty shortly after graduating in 1951 during the Korean War. Because of his science background he was assigned to the Dental Lab at Great Lakes Naval Station for the duration of his active-duty time. After discharge, Bill started Medical School at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and graduated in 1957. With a carload of classmates looking for internships, he toured hospitals from Toledo to Duluth, and chose St. Mary’s in Duluth because it had the nicest intern quarters and he needed to consider his wife, Kay, and newborn daughter, Susan. St. Mary’s turned out to be a very good choice. Bill and Kay fell in love with Duluth. After a 3 yr. residency in ophthalmology at Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit, MI, they made the life changing decision to join the Duluth Clinic and make Duluth the family’s permanent home.
Even though they were near neighbors, Bill didn’t meet Kay until after high school graduation. They dated when he was home and corresponded when he was away at college and in the Service. Finally, they were able to marry in 1954 after he finished his first year of medical school and she graduated from nursing school. They enjoyed 67 years of marriage raising four children and making their mark on Duluth.
Bill was a storyteller. You knew him from his stories of his sewer digging days during summer breaks, summers at Y Camp as a kid, driving the College bus, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in AZ when the college kids came down on spring break or coaching a T-Ball team where the outfielder was so small his glove dragged on the ground. You knew him as a leader and innovator professionally who introduced contact lenses and intraocular lenses to Duluth back in the day. You knew him from his stories as a retiree who loved to travel and do short term mission work in Peru, Honduras and in the Mississippi mud.
His family knew him as a gentle and kind soul who didn’t like to see anyone unhappy. They knew they were loved and loved him in return. Bill will be remembered and missed by his wife, Kay, sons Steven/Jennifer, Andrew/Cathy, Allen/friend Jill, and daughter, Susan Lussky, 12 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.
As per Bill’s wishes, there will be no service but a Celebration of Life gathering Saturday, Aug 21, from 11:00am to 1:00pm at Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, 2310 E. 4th ST. Duluth, MN 55812. If you choose, memorials can be sent to the Duluth-Superior Community Foundation, #700, 324 West Superior St., Duluth, MN 55802 or The Essentia Health Foundation, 400 E. Third St., Duluth, MN 55805.
Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, Duluth, 218-727-3555.
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