Wiliam Mahlon Purdin, Jr.


7/31/1947 – 7/15/2021

 

MARBLEHEAD, MA – William Mahlon Purdin, 73, passed away peacefully at the Kaplan Family
Hospice House on July 15, 2021 after a courageous battle with colon cancer.

Bill was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 31,1947 to William Mahlon Purdin, Sr. and Ida
Katherine DeWitt Purdin. He was the younger brother of Judith Purdin Pyart of Saundersfoot,
Wales, Marcia Purdin Ordway (deceased), and step-brother Michael Hanson of Maryland.
Tragedy struck this young family when Bill’s biological mother died at the age of 36, leaving her
husband to raise the three children by himself. Billy was only three years old. It was with a little
bit of luck that the Episcopal priest from their church decided to play matchmaker for Bill’s
father. Margaret Fern Duke was also a member of this parish, and the mother of one son,
Michael. Bill Senior and Margaret began a friendship which turned into marriage, and they
became the new, blended Purdin family.

Bill Purdin, Senior was moving up the corporate ladder and soon moved his family to Wichita,
Kansas, where Billy remembers having to hide in the basement during the tornado seasons.
Their next move was to Littleton, Colorado, and Bill loved the great outdoors, riding horses
with his best friend through the Colorado countryside. The family’s next move was to
Marblehead, Massachusetts, when Bill was about 10 years old. Bill remembers feeling like
Marblehead was finally his “real home,” and he has many wonderful memories of growing up in
there. When Bill was about to become a senior in high school, his father made his next career
move to New York, and the family moved in Stamford, CT. As hard as it was for Bill to leave
Marblehead and the friends he had made, he made new friends in Stamford. At the end of his
senior year, he was admitted to the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Again, Bill was great at
meeting people and making friends, but forgot that he had to study, too; so he dropped out of

UConn and joined the navy where, after training, he served two tours of duty in Vietnam on the
River Patrol boats. He returned home on July 20, 1969, the day the first man walked on the
moon.

Upon returning from Vietnam, Bill knew he wanted an education. His parents had made one
last move to Silver Spring, Maryland, so Bill enrolled in the University of Maryland, and this time
remembered to study. He did so well, that after graduation, he went out to the University of
Indiana where he was enrolled in a doctoral program for political science and Russian studies.
When his doctoral advisor dropped dead in front of Bill halfway through the program (and
perhaps because of PTSD from Vietnam), Bill decided not to complete the program, and he
came home to Marblehead.

For the next few years, Bill worked at Hood Sailmakers before taking on a job in advertising
sales at the Marblehead Messenger, one of the town’s two weekly newspapers. At the
Messenger, he met Joy Hooper, who would become his wife in 1980, and mother of their
daughter, Blythe. Bill and Joy celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in November 2020.
He then had the opportunity to work in the advertising sales department of the New York
Times, the newspaper that his high school teacher, Henry Juncker, had introduced him to many
years before. Although Bill left his position at the NY Times after several years, he continued to
read the paper daily for the remainder of his life. Being a creative soul, and because he always
loved Marblehead, Bill decided to start Marblehead Magazine in 1979 which was published for
12 years. As well as the magazine, Bill began his advertising agency, Legend, Inc., where he
worked on over 18,000 projects over the next 40 years.

Bill was an avid swimmer and a member of both the JCC and the YMCA. He loved playing golf
and was a member of Tedesco Country Club for many years. He began rollerblading for
exercise because it looked like so much fun; and, to celebrate his 50th birthday, he rollerbladed

the seventy-five miles from Marblehead to Provincetown. From sailing, to owning a Boston
Whaler, to ocean kayaking, to scuba diving, Bill loved being in, on, or under the water. To
complete his bucket list, he took a tandem skydive at the age of 54, which turned into 10 years
of skydiving and earning certifications to teach skydiving. He had 1600 skydives before putting
away his parachute for the last time.

Throughout Bill’s life, he was an avid poet and writer. Bill wrote over 27 books of poetry, and
found an audience on pathetic.org, a poetry website, where many of his poems were viewed
thousands of times. He began writing a science fiction novel over 20 years ago, that turned into
a trilogy. In the last 10 years of life, he saw that dream come to fruition when he self-published
the three-volume series. The trilogy, beginning with The Rise of Farson Uiost, is set in a utopian
future, because Bill hoped there would be a time when people saw each other without
prejudices and could just see just the good in each other.

Aside from trying almost every sport imaginable, Bill was always one to give back to his
beloved home town. Starting out as assistant-dog officer to Bobby Orne when he returned

from Vietnam, he kept Fort Sewall clean and helped Bobby with caring for our town’s four-
legged friends. He was appointed next to the Conservation Commission, then later appointed

to the Finance Committee where he was a member for nine years. After the Finance
Committee, he felt very blessed to have been voted to the Board of Selectmen for nine years in
a row. He was especially proud to be part of organizing the town’s 350th celebration, when
U.S.S. Constitution came out from Boston and anchored in Marblehead Harbor for the
celebration.

But he always said his greatest loves were his wife, Joy, and their daughter, Blythe, and he was
forever grateful to them for enriching his life in all the most important ways. They will miss him
deeply, as will his many friends. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill’s memory to www.caredimensions.org or
www.marblehead.dollarsforscholars.org.

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16 Condolences

  1. Peggy Mitchell on July 18, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    So very sorry for your loss of such a terrific guy!! May you find comfort in all the beautiful memories you have made with him.
    Peggy and Bob Mitchell



  2. John Allan on July 18, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Very sorry for your loss, Bill was an amazing man who loved his wife, daughter, friends and most especially Marblehead. John Allan



  3. Ann Davis-Allan on July 18, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    No words Joy and Blythe, so very sorry for your loss. May Bill rest in peace and may his wonderful life memories live on through you both!!
    Love,



  4. Barbara Schwartz on July 18, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    My deepest sympathies to you, Joy and Blythe. I was shocked to read Blythe’s post. Thinking of you with love and hugs.



  5. Karen Lospennato on July 18, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    I was so saddened to hear of Bill’s passing. I am thinking of you and Blythe, Joy. What a life, well lived…Karen Lospennato



  6. Milena Origgi on July 18, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    I’m proud to have had the opportunity to known and work with him and sorry for your loss.



  7. Carolyn Anne Goldman on July 18, 2021 at 11:45 pm

    Our deepest condolences to Joy and Blythe.
    From his many friends at Skydive Pepperell. Eternal blue skies, Bill



  8. Nancy Sheena Sarles on July 19, 2021 at 2:43 am

    So very sorry for your loss. I spent many, many, many hours and hours with Bill editing Marblehead Magazine and working with him at Legend. Bill was bright, passionate, and dedicated to so much that enriched many lives. I’m honored that our paths crossed many wonderful times over the years.



  9. Gretchen Langton on July 19, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Joy, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. From reading his obituary it seems Bill’s life was the epitome of a life well lived! My thoughts are with you and your daughter. Take care.



  10. Lisa Vied on July 19, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    I am thinking of you, Joy. Sending you lots of love.
    Lisa Vied



  11. Janice Kalp on July 19, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    joy and Blythe – so sorry to hear of Bills passing. He was a wonderful father, husband and Marbleheader! Someone to b admired. My thoughts are with you. Janice Kalp



  12. Nancy Smith on July 19, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you Joy and with Blythe. So sorry for your loss.
    Nancy Smith



  13. Roxanne Murphy Hepper on July 19, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    I am so sorry to read of Bill’s passing. I knew him from Stamford High School.
    He was a sweet guy.
    I hope you can find peace and comfort. It looks like from his obituary that he grew into an amazing man.



  14. Mary Chalifour on July 20, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Oh Joy, I am so very sorry for your loss. I was always so touched by the Valentines article in the Reporter where Bill said when he met you… he thought you were just his cup of tea. So sweet and I bet you had lots of laughs over it too. It is just too hard. If you ever want to talk I’ve been told I’m a good listener. Hugs and prayers, Mary



  15. Speros Zakas on July 21, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Dear Joy and Blythe,

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Bill was my mentor, and I learned a lot working at Marblehead Magazine and Legend.

    I have many happy memories of him.

    I remember he took me to play PacMan back in the ’80s.

    I was a proofreader, editor and circulation manager for Marblehead Magazine.

    Later, he trusted me enough to proofread and edit his science fiction books. He loved to write them, and I loved to work with him.

    May his memory be eternal.

    Speros Zakas



  16. Timothy Downing on August 2, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Joy and Blythe,

    We never met, but I certainly know both of you, as Bill told me many wonderful stories about the two of you. He loved you both so, as I know you are surely aware.

    For 10 years, Bill collaborated with my design firm, Design & Co., since we first met through Duratherm Window Corporation in 2011. I immediately knew there was something special about Bill, and I treasured my relationship with him over the last decade. As you know, Bill was the ultimate optimist and a tireless, unfailing advocate for our work. If we interviewed for a job for which we were not awarded, Bill would call me to declare how absolutely and completely crazy they were–a huge mistake!

    Bill’s work was exceptional. I’ll never forget the first Duratherm headlines Bill created for us. We are currently celebrating our 20th anniversary and I recently picked the 20 most compelling images from our archive. Our image of Duratherm Production Supervisor, Dick Jerollman, with Bill’s quote, “He’s been making sure things go as planned for 44 years. And everyone knows he’s watching.” is of course included in this select group–absolutely brilliant writing and so, so Bill.

    From our work together for Duratherm, Bill would go on to lead the success of several high profile sexual misconduct campaigns for both Harvard and Georgetown Universities. Important work for my firm and also society at large. We simply could not have achieved project success without Bill’s brilliance. He was the driver, the generator. Despite the 50 year age difference between author and target audience–an initial concern when we interviewed with Bill at Harvard–Bill’s work transcended age and gender difference because he was so creative, targeted, and so, so deep. Bill is both incredible and irreplaceable.

    On behalf of Design & Co, I offer you both our sincere condolences. We all loved Bill and will miss him terribly. Tim



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