NIU remembers philosophy professor William Tolhurst

By Thomas Verschelde

The NIU community mourns after philosophy professor William Tolhurst died Thursday at the age of 64.

Tolhurst was a professor in philosophy at NIU for 33 years and served as the Philosophy Department’s Chairman from 1990 to 1998. Tolhurst retired on Sept. 1, 2010.

“He was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm,” said Philosophy Department chairman David J. Buller. “He was a caring and dedicated teacher. He served the university in many ways.”

In addition to being the department’s chairman for eight years, Tolhurst also served on the University Council and helped create the certificate of undergraduate study and applied ethics.

“Bill had a great strength and a great weakness, and they were the same thing,” said English Professor Sean Shesgreen, a longtime friend of Tolhurst. “Whenever NIU asked him to serve, he always said, ‘yes.'”

Shesgreen said he and Tolhurst knew each other well. They jogged with each other from 1981 to 2010, five days a week and two hours each day.

“[I admired] his devotion to his students, his love for his daughter and son and his dedication to the university.” Shesgreen said.

Philosophy professor Tomis Kapitan said Tolhurst’s energy was a great resource for the philosophy department.

“He was extremely energetic and always enthusiastic when it came to philosophy,” Kapitan said. “He was concerned with making sure we had a good department, and that we gave our students a solid education.”

Tolhurst’s death will also be felt beyond his work with the university.

“As a father he was a man of wisdom, guidance and love,” Shesgreen said. “He was someone I looked up to and admired, and whose loss I mourn.”