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University, Oxford Community Mourns Loss of Math Professor Bill Staton

Retired University of Mississippi math professor Dr. William A. “Bill” Staton III, 75, died Monday at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Paris-Yates Chapel, with the Rev. Gail Stratton officiating. A private inurnment service will follow in the city of Oxford Columbarium. Waller Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Staton earned his PhD in mathematics before accepting a job as a professor at the University of Mississippi that would span his entire career. Originally from Texas, he made Oxford his home and found his passion working alongside students. His love of mathematics spilled into all areas of his life and he could often be heard giving a quick lesson or explanation to whoever lent an ear.

The late Carol and Bill Staton. Photo from Waller Funeral Home

His knowledge and expertise were a guiding light to the countless PhD students sponsored under his direction, as well as the students he tutored through various programs, including the Boys and Girls Club and a prison program that assisted inmates seeking their GED.

He won several awards while at the university, including the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year (1988); a Faculty Achievement Award (1997); and the Frist Service Award (1999).

In a 2018 interview with Hotty Toddy contributor Bonnie Brown, Staton told Brown, “I enjoyed almost every aspect of my career for all 35 years of service. I loved thinking about mathematics and I loved being in the classroom. I did not love having to assign grades, and I disliked faculty meetings, but those were small burdens.”

Staton married his late wife, Carolyn, in 1984. They shared an interest in antiques and collectibles and found a niche in rare and unique books. The community fondly remembers their “Book Nook” located in The Depot. Together, their hobby grew into a small business, and the couple sold and shipped books all over the country.

Staton enjoyed traveling, coin collecting, and running. He ran countless races and won many medals and trophies throughout the years.

“Make your life be about more than physical comfort and accumulation of wealth,” Staton said in the 2018 interview.

Survivors include three sons, William “Will” Staton and his wife, Katrina of Syracuse, NY, Thom Staton and his wife, Emma of Asheville, NC and Michael Staton and his fiancé, Erin of Pembroke, NH; one brother, Walter Staton of Dallas, TX and a beloved granddaughter, Sofia Staton Ballard.

Memorial contributions in Staton’s memory may be made to the Carolyn Ellis Staton Scholarship in Law Endowment, University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.

Read the full obituary here.

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