William Birney Obituary (1937 – 2022) – Wallingford, CT

William H. Birney Jr.
It is with our deepest sadness that we inform you of the passing of our beloved husband and father William H. Birney, Jr., who passed away at home on January 19, 2022. He was surrounded by his beloved wife for 62 years, Kathy, and her dear family. He was born on April 18, 1937 in New Haven, CT, the son of William H. and Alice King Birney. He graduated in 1955 from Hamden High School. He served actively with the United States Army, Mortar Battery, 1st Battle Group, 15th Infantry, and Third Infantry Division from 1957 to 1959. He continued military service in the Army Reserves until in 1962. Bill was stationed in Bamberg, Germany. Of all the places Bill traveled throughout his life, Bamberg was his favorite destination. He was extremely happy to have shared a return trip to Bamberg with his sons in 2006.
Bill had an insatiable appetite for learning and an unparalleled memory. While in college, he contributed to our understanding of human behavior by volunteering in the now iconic Milgram Experiments at Yale University. Bill was ordered to administer electric shocks to a “staged actor” (unbeknownst to Bill). After delivering the first shock to the actor, Bill refused to continue and walked out of the lab. Months later, in 1962, he received a letter from Yale revealing the purpose and design of the study.
In 1964 he joined the Wallingford Police Department and was a member for 38 years. Bill was always grateful for the support he received from Mayor Rocco Vumbaco who recognized Bill’s strengths and dedication to the force. He was promoted in 1973 to the rank of sergeant, where he served as a shift supervisor. Then, in 1979, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He assumed many responsibilities during his tenure as a Lieutenant, including overseeing the Records Division, as Court Liaison Officer, and as Departments Training Officer. Bill was also responsible for implementing the department’s first central computer system, streamlining the transition from a paper-based records system to a modern computerized records system. Bill served as Acting Chief of Police for a time in 1989 when Chief Joseph Bevan and Deputy Chief Darrell York were on sick leave. He ended his career in 2002 after leading the Department’s Detective Division for eight years.
Shortly after his retirement, Bill was appointed to the Wallingford Zoning Appeal Board, chairing the Board for much of his 13-year term. City Council President Vincent Cervoni was another ZBA commissioner and marveled at Bill’s encyclopedic memory, calm demeanor and deliberate decision-making.
Bill loved to travel. He and Kathy have traveled the world including nearly all 50 states.
Bill is predeceased by his mother and father and by his sister Alice Ritchie.
Bill was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his beloved wife Kathy Moran Birney, seven children, Ralph (Tina), daughter, Elizabeth Gagliardi (Jim), William (Shelley), Patrick (Paige), Jon, James (Chris) and Randy (Kristina ), seventeen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Bill is also survived by Kathy’s brother and sister-in-law Charles and Raphael Moran and five nieces and nephews. The family is forever indebted to neighbors and close friends of Bill, Bob and Elaine Johnson. In 1977, they met across a common driveway and spent the next 45 years sharing life’s many treasured memories.
Friends and relatives are invited to attend call hours on Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Wallingford Funeral Home, 809 North Main St. Ext. Wallingford. A memorial service will be held at Wallingford Funeral Home Thursday at 11:00 a.m. There will be a funeral service followed by military honors at St. John’s Cemetery, Christian Street, Wallingford, CT. Contributions in William’s memory may be made to the Masonic Charity Foundation of CT, PO Box 70, Wallingford, CT 06492, or Gaylord Hospital, EBG Fund, 50 Gaylord Farm Road, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Published by The New Haven Register on January 22, 2022.


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