In the 1960s and 1970s, the population at Conant High School was on the rise, and therefore, the number of teachers being hired was also increasing.
At that time, Bill McCauley was the leader in choosing which math teachers would work at the school. Former co-workers and family are remembering the longtime department chair as an exceptional mentor who effectively brought together the young teachers, creating a second family for them all.
"No department head was ever more dedicated and more supportive of the teachers and their mission than Bill McCauley," said Don Grossnickle, who served as assistant principal at Conant between 1980 and 1985. "He was a great enthusiast."
McCauley died Wednesday after a battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 78.
Prior to joining District 211 in 1963, McCauley taught for five years at Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He worked for one year at Fremd High School before moving to Conant as chairman of the math department.
Dave Carlson was hired by McCauley shortly after graduating college in June 1968.
"I was very green at the beginning. I didn't know much about teaching," Carlson said. "He taught me a lot about what it took to be an effective teacher in the classroom. In those days, he was my leader, and therefore I was able to learn a lot from him."
Carlson remained friends with McCauley, who lived in Schaumburg, until his death. The two played golf together multiple times a week and Carlson said McCauley was always very congenial and appreciative whenever Carlson came to visit him while he was sick.
Co-workers fondly remember the social gatherings McCauley would host at his home for the entire math department, especially his St. Patrick's Day get-togethers, as he was Irish.
"Bill had more than a casual relationship with his department members," Grossnickle said, adding that his wife was also hired by McCauley. "That's how Bill built community, which I think is a fundamental character trait of him as a leader."
McCauley's wife, Jane, said he was well-liked not only by his co-workers, but also his students.
"He was wonderful at guidance," she said, adding that he was a teacher for AP Calculus classes and coach for the math team. "I think he was much respected by the students."
Jane McCauley said after her husband retired in 1994, he served as president of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association for a few years. He also enjoyed traveling, volunteering at the Church of the Holy Spirit's food pantry and spending time with his family.
"His family was No. 1, his Conant family was No. 2," she said, adding that he enjoyed hosting spring picnics and pizza parties on the last day of final exams with the department.
In addition to his wife, McCauley is survived by three children and seven grandchildren. Visitation will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 14, at Ahlgrims and Sons Funeral Home, 330 W. Golf Road, Schaumburg. The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 15, at the Church of the Holy Spirit, 1452 W. Bode Road in Schaumburg.