Yesterday on January 10th we heard of the passing of our dear friend Bill Roll, a long-time member of the Rhine Center Advisory Board. Bill was a true giant in the halls of parapsychological investigators and for decades until his death was the undisputed leader and expert on the field investigation of hauntings and poltergeists. I first met Bill back in the 1950's at the Duke Parapsychology Lab when we were both young staff members and occasionally enjoyed classy dinners at the classy house that he and his first wife built on the edge of Durham. He went on to various positions and accomplishments best described in the write-up below from our website but he always remained close friends of my father JB Rhine and the Rhine Center as it is known today.
In his last appearance here several years ago Bill was our invited guest at a PRF reunion we assembled in his honor where he delivered his typical speech combining equal parts humor and wisdom. About 30 of his earlier PRF colleagues were able to attend, three of whom (Pamela St. John, Debi Pratt and Steve Barrell) have continued on as active volunteers in the Rhine community. We remember him with great fondness for his passionate interest and many contributions to the field of parapsychology and for his many human qualities that made him especially endearing.
Sally Rhine Feather
Executive Director Emeritus
Rhine Research Center
Dr. William Roll
Dr. William Roll obtained a BA from the University of Berkeley, a B.Litt. and M. Litt. from Oxford University (under Prof. H.H. Price) and a Ph.D. from Lund University (under Prof. Martin Johnson) with a thesis on the examination of the parapsychological findings suggestive of the survival of human personality after death. Dr. Roll then worked with Dr. J.B.Rhine at the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory for a 7-year-period during which time he made his first poltergeist investigation. In 1961 Dr. Rhine appointed Dr. Roll project director of the Psychical Research Foundation which was set up to explore the question of survival after death. After the dissolution of the Duke Lab in 1964, The PRF became a sponsored program at the Duke Department of Electrical Engineering, expanded the staff, and participated in poltergeist research, now termed RSPK for recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis. The best-known PRF experiments were the OBE tests of Keith Harary and the EEG-ESP experiments with Sean Harribance, both of which had the involvement of the late Professor Bob Morris who later held the Koestler chair in parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh. In 1986, Dr. Roll was appointed Professor of Psychology and Psychical Research at what is now West Georgia University. He has retired from teaching but continues to write and do research as a member of the faculty. Dr. Roll has written numerous papers, book chapters and four books, the most recent entitled Unleashed: Of Poltergeists and Murder; the Strange Story of Tina Resch (with Valerie Storey). He has received the Outstanding Career Award from the Parapsychological Association and the Tim Dinsdale Memorial Award from the Society for Scientific Exploration.