This Thread Through a Life by William P. Butz


What makes a person who he is? For me, it was a cascade of lessons learned through the years—from a conversation, a gesture, a poem—that keep recurring in memory and that translate into attitudes and actions. I am pulling this thread of experiences, involuntarily imprinted and recalled, through my life, collecting in this memoir the lessons that stuck: from fun to faith and doubt, from leadership to teaching and learning, from “aha” moments to public policy.

The lessons are personal; after all, they made me who I am. But as each individual is unique from the next, I hope my lessons from my life touch upon the thread of commonality that holds us all
together—our humanity.


William Butz is a grandfather of six who enjoys gardening, cycling, music, reading, traveling, magic, and—above all—his family and friends. He is also an economic demographer who led governmental and nonprofit organizations, taught college, advised policymakers, and published research on poverty, fertility, mortality, health, nutrition, education, and scientific manpower. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

From his parents, brother, former wife, four children, six grandchildren, and twenty-one first cousins came many of the personal lessons in this memoir. Others arose from friends, classroom teachers, professional colleagues, books and poems, and chance encounters with perfect strangers. Butz has lived and worked on four continents and is a lifelong volunteer. He is now exploring
a quieter, but no less active, adventure: retirement in Kensington, Maryland.


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