William Frank Ainsley, Distinguished Professor of Geography, Department of Geography and Geology, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, has died. During a distinguished 36-year career at the University of North Carolina- Wilmington, Ainsley taught hundreds of students, both undergraduate and graduate, who benefitted from his outstanding abilities as a teacher and mentor. His considerable contributions were recognized with three significant awards: Ainsley was named North Carolina Geography Educator of the Year in 2003, received the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004, and was awarded a University of North Carolina- Wilmington Distinguished Teaching Professorship in 2005. He was an active officer for the Pioneer America Society, receiving the society’s Henry H. Douglas Distinguished Service Award in 2003. Ainsley’s research and teaching interests were wide-ranging. His substantial scholarship and teaching experience allowed him to author geography textbooks that have become the standard in public school systems across North Carolina. Among his many interests were immigrant farm colonies and preservation of historical buildings and sites. Friends, colleagues and former students will remember him as a huge Buddy Holly fan who gave his annual “Buddy Holly lecture” to geography classes each February 3, the day of Holly’s death. Ainsley held numerous degrees, including an A.B. degree in Biblical Studies, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1966; a Masters of Divinity, Southeastern Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, 1969; a Masters in Geography, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1972; and a PhD in Geography, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1977.
William Ainsley (Necrology). 2011. AAG Newsletter 46(1): 46.