In 1970, I applied to exactly one university: The one I could afford (I was putting myself through school) --- The University of California. After visiting Irvine and San Diego, I made UCSD my first choice. I didn't want to go to a large campus like Berkeley or UCLA or the ag campuses like Davis or Riverside. Of course now UCSD is the third largest campus. But I digress. I chose Revelle College because I liked the concept of a liberal arts education (even though I am a nerd through and through). As I recently found out, Revelle was modeled after the University of Chicago.
So, when I arrived at Revelle, I was assigned to a four story single sex dorm (as was the custom of the day). From my very first day in the university, I knew that the university was an exceptional place. And I met all kinds of interesting and smart people. One of them was Bill Seiter.
I don't remember how I fell in with Bill, but I know it was freshman year because I also met his precocious sister Ellen (possibly at a dance?). I also remember discussing the differences in Calculus (Bill was taking honors Calculus). After the first two years of requirements, Bill decided to major in Linguistics. Bill could have done anything, he was incredibly bright. He chose linguistics because he liked languages.
In the senior year, Bill, myself and Don Eigler (of atom fame) decided to rent a beach bungalow in nearby Del Mar (there is no way an undergraduate could do that now). Bill and I had the bedrooms, Don had the garage (where, as I recall, he installed a water bed). The house was two houses from the Del Mar beach. By senior year, Bill was already taking graduate classes and had been accepted into the graduate school at UCSD for the following year with an NSF Fellowship. I remember when he was taking a Field Work class. The "informant" was Navaho and Bill used to come home with Navaho words to share.
The house in Del Mar was an absolute fun time: Bill and Don were great housemates. We had people over for dinner all the time (I was really picking up speed on cooking). I remember once I decided to make a shrimp recipe and rode my bike up to Solana Beach to a fish store. When I returned, Bill was the one who knew what "devein" meant. I didn't --- good thing he knew.
Bill was also a really good musician (he may have been a music minor like me, I don't recall). He played the french horn in high school and could also play piano. But Bill was also a member of a recorder trio: I played soprano, Tyde Richards played alto and Bill played tenor. We were playing a fair amount of renaissance music (I remember Machaut in particular) when we decided to tackle the Hindemith trio. When we practiced (at home in Del Mar), we would eventually become quite giddy from lack of oxygen. And then we'd stop and tell jokes and stories.
At the end of senior year, I left for graduate school at Berkeley and Bill and Don rented a different house in Solana Beach for the next year. I saw Bill at least once more (at a wedding) but I haven't seen him in person for more than 40 years.
After Bill received his PhD, he decided to go to law school. I believe firmly that Bill was so good that he could have obtained a faculty position in linguistics at a top school. But his father was a lawyer (in fact a law professor at DePaul in Chicago), his older sister was a lawyer and so I think that influenced him a good deal. He went to Boalt (part of Berkeley). And, as usual, graduated with honors. He chose to practice trademark law --- I never asked him why.
I should note that it was through Bill that I met the entire Seiter clan. I found out about Bill's sudden death from his sister Ellen.
Bill was very funny (at least I thought so) and I found him constantly amusing. But underneath it all was an amazing intelligence and scintillating mind.