Dr. William H. Tranter Makes a Bequest for the Ainsworth Fellowship

Photo of alumnus William Harrington Tranter
Headshot of alumnus William Harrington Tranter








William H. Tranter, a former student of Professor Richard Ainsworth, recently passed away. In his will Dr. Tranter made a bequest of $5,000 to the Departmant of Mathematics, to be added to the Edith and Richard Ainsworth Endowed Scholarship.

William H. Tranter’s Obituary

William Harrington Tranter, 79, of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, formerly of Blacksburg, VA, passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday, May 5, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Judith, his daughter Elizabeth Ann Tranter, of North Myrtle Beach, and his son John Harrington Tranter and daughter-in-law Danni Li of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

William was born in 1939 to William D. and Margaret E. Tranter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Later moving with his family to Dothan, Alabama, he developed interests in music, photography, astronomy, and model railroading.  In high school, his teachers identified and encouraged his lifelong love of writing.  

As a student at the University of Alabama, William met Judith Piper, his lifelong love, whom he married in 1961. William H. Tranter received the B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama, in 1964, 1965, and 1970, respectively. He joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1969, where he served as an Assistant and Associate Dean of Engineering from 1980 to 1985. He was named Schlumberger Professor in 1985. His devotion to his students was recognized through several teaching awards. In 1997, he joined the faculty at Virginia Tech, as the Bradley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and member of the Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (now Wireless@VT.) He served as a Program Director in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate with the National Science Foundation from 2009 to 2011. 

A pioneer in the field of communications and simulationWilliam contributed chapters to a number of books and published more than 75 research journal and conference papers.  He also co-authored a number of widely-used undergraduate textbooks in the communications area.   Throughout his career, he was active in the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and was named Fellow in 1985 and life fellow in 2005. Heserved as a member of the Board of Governors and Director of Journals of the IEEE Communications Society, was elected Vice President-Technical Activities, and served an 11-year term as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications. He received an IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984, a Millennium Medal in 2000, the Donald McLellan Meritorious Service Award from the IEEE Communications Society in 2000, and the Publications Exemplary Service Award in 2001. 

William will be remembered by friends around the world for his scholarship, mentorship, and generosity.  He loved international travel, music, dining, and hours of animated conversation with family and friends. His wisdom, friendship and humor will be missed by those left to mourn his passing.  

The family would like to extend its gratitude to Lower Cape Fear Hospice and the exceptional in-home caregivers who provided compassionate care and warm companionship in his final months.   A Memorial Service will be held for William on Saturday July 20 at 1:00 pm at Lee Funeral Home in Little River, SC.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Ainwsorth Endowed Graduate Scholarship in Applied Mathematics at the University of Alabama, or Wireless@VT at Virginia Tech.  Online condolences may be offered at: