William R. DeForest Jr.

OSWEGO, NY – It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of William R. DeForest Jr. who moved on in the wee hours of the day, which is typical given that  Bill was always an early riser, on Saturday, March 26, 2016, at Upstate University Hospital, Syracuse.

William R. DeForest Jr.
William R. DeForest Jr.

Born in Staten Island, NY, on December 30, 1939, as an only child he was the apple of his parents’ eyes.

He left Staten Island to attend the State University of New York College at Oswego, where he graduated with a BS in education, and went on to teach history, social studies and geography at John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix for 32 years.

Bill was loved and respected by his many students and fellow teachers.

Bill was an avid fisherman and took great pleasure in catch and release fishing along all of CNY lakes and streams.

He  enjoyed tying his own flies and being involved in water conservation.

At one time, he held the title of president of Trout Unlimited in the CNY Chapter.

He shared his love of fishing with his family, friends and beloved students.

esides fishing, his second love was building and flying model airplanes and rockets.

He was a member of The Oswego Valley Modelaires club.

Bill built many amazing replica airplanes.

In most recent years he developed a strong interest in building rockets which he flew out at Mexico Point.

Some of his rockets reached more than 1,000 feet, which he was very proud of.

He was predeceased by his parents, William and Josephine DeForest.

He is survived by his children, Linda DeForest, Billy DeForest and Cindy DeForest; his grandson, Sam Peden; his wife and best friend, Earleen DeForest; and his son in all but name, Christopher Barnhart.

There will be a memorial service where friends can come and share memories and special moments in his life on Thursday, March 31, from 5-7 p.m. at the Dowdle Funeral Home in Oswego, NY.

We hope you are catching the “Big Fish” by a beautiful stream in Heaven, Pops.

We love you.


  1. Earleen….It has been a long time, but I want you to know how sorry I am for your loss.

    Charlotte Leppert Wilcox

  2. Rest In Peace Mr. D . You were such acgreat teacher . May the waters in Heaven be calm and the fish biting .

  3. He was. A. Awesome. Teacher. Him and his choc. Chip. Cookies. But he. Was. One of the. Teachers. Who truly. Was devoted. To each. Student. He will be missed. Rip. Mr. D. Condolences to the family and prayers foreach of u.

  4. We all respected and learned from this man, who will always be regarded as one of Phoenix’s Finest Teachers during his 32 year career in the Phoenix School District at JCB High School. His students always enjoyed his unique teaching style, and I always listened to his advice about how the students could benefit better, and I was a better Superintendent for knowing him. Farewell, Mr.D. ….see you down the road I hope….

  5. R.I.P. Mr. D. U were such an awesome teacher. I never liked Social Studies until I got into your class. You knew how to make learning it enjoyable, at least for me. I learned a lot in your class. Enjoy the fishing up there in Heaven. Heavens Garden must be so beautiful with the passing if so many of my loved ones, family and friends, in the past couple of months. My deepest sympathy to the family. He was a fantastic man. God Bless.

  6. Bill Never New How much he affected his student family and friends you had a heck of a life you will be missed by all that had the honor to really no you. I no I will miss you.

  7. My dad, Dick Phillips, was friends with a Bill DeForest with whom he taught at J.C. Birdlebough. I believe they carpooled together from Oswego in the 60’s. If this is the same man, please accept my condolences. Dad died in 1981 at age 54, so I can’t ask him.

  8. RIP Mr. D. One of the best and most respected Teachers Phoenix ever had. I always looked forward to his class, and truly enjoyed Ecology Club. Thoughts and prayers go out to his Family.

  9. Earleen, I have not seen you in many years but I want to tell you and your family how sorry I am for your loss .

    Betty Moody

  10. Linda, We are so very sorry to hear of your & your family’s loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. R.I.P mr. bill deforest whom you taught at john c.birdlebough in phoenoix ny.You were the best respectful teacher i ever had and i know i was struggling in social studies.You made it fun and possible for me to pass with flying colors.I am so sorry for your families loss.My thoughts and prayers are with them at this time while they grief,Once again god has taken an angel up to heaven today.

  12. Rip mr d what a great teacher! Seen him in oswego at the grocery store about a year ago. He loved my moms chocolate cokkies. Thanks for your years at jcb. Kay kinne collins

  13. R.I.P.Bill we were friends for a long time when you lived on shore oaks. our thoughts and prayers to you Earleen and all the family so sorry for your loss.

  14. Rest in peace dear sir. My son was also involved with OVM and Hawks it was always a pleasure seeing him at these events… always told us what the birds were. .. my son was fascinated (as was I) with the info he knew about them.. To his family my deepest heartfelt sympathies are with you…

  15. Peace be with you Mr. D. Sorry for your loss to the family you had a great and kind man you call Dad and husband and best friend..love to you. He will forever be in my heart

  16. I fondly remember Mr. Deforest from my 9th grade global studies class. It was here that I realized how much chocolate chip cookies could do for your grades! Mr. D was a fine teacher with a fun personality that made learning fun. Thanks for the memories Mr. Deforest! RIP

  17. RIP Mr. D. You will be missed by all. One of the best remembered teachers in Phoenix – thank you for the memories!

  18. Mr. DeForest had a tremendous impact on his students. Even though I sat in his classroom 30 years ago, I vividly remember his stories! What Mr. D “nailed” in the classroom was connecting to his students, and making learning fun. The education “Guru’s” of today with their data driven strategies, standards and assessments miss the “Art” that Mr. D brought to the classroom. Godspeed Mr. D!

  19. Rip Mr De….You were one of my favorite teachers. Your teaching style and the respect of your students was the best…Because of you I have learned to love history and fishing…Condolences from my family to yours….

  20. I am very sorry for your families loss. You Sir were without a doubt the greatest teacher i ever had the pleasure of studying under. You always tried to find ways for everyone in the class to be involved in your lessons. I appreciated that and have mentioned that to my wife just recently. You also would come to my football games and tell me how good the food was and taunt me ( saying to bad your so busy, this is delicious ). Thank You, rest in piece Mr.D

  21. got to know Bill through his fishing compadre Bob Dix and have seen that hat on him many times. Get early to-morrow, I hear they are biting up there. Len Cooper

  22. Earleen and all of the family, I am very sorry to hear of the passing of William, and I know that he will be missed by many people. May he rest in peace and you all hold dear the memories of him. God bless and keep you all!

  23. Linda
    I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  24. I’m just reading of this today and send my sympathy the Earleen and family. We are here for you, just across the street if you should need anything.

  25. It says something about a man when Mr. D. was not one of my actual teachers but still ignited my interest in social studies and treated me like one of his own students. You were part of a special crop of teachers and administrators that served Phoenix during that time. Thank you, Mr. D. I pray the Lord’s comfort on your family.

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