Bill Martel ’77 – ‘Left a big footprint and had a lot more to accomplish’

Scott Murphy, News Editor

Dianne (Massarelli) Martel ’76 and I spoke recently in order to discuss her memories about the Anselmian life of her late husband Bill Martell ’77, who was renowned both as a scholar and Professor of International Security Studies at Tufts University.

Saint Anselm did not become a co-ed school until two years into Dianne’s undergraduate studies as a nursing major (the only major offered for women at that time), and the lack of parietals (now known as “inter-visitation”) made studying in Geisel Library the main social hub on campus.

This is where Dianne first met Bill, a freshman history major whom she described as a “Very active and dynamic person that had so many interests and took advantage of everything that was going on.”

Dianne made this abundantly clear throughout our conversation, first discussing Bill’s tenure as Student Body President during his senior year, during which time he was “instrumental” in implementing parietals on campus.

Parietals were first limited to four weekends per year, but by the time the Class of 1977 had graduated, Bill had worked to expand them to all weekends.

This policy has of course grown even more lenient nowadays, and Dianne and I joked that Bill’s initial diligence is something that all students greatly appreciate.

As Student Body President, Bill also organized a Senior Winter Carnival, where seniors took buses up to a ski resort to hit the slopes, build and judge snow sculptures and hold a dance.

This was a natural interest for Bill, as he was a member of Saint Anselm’s ski team and maintained the hobby for the remainder of his life.

However, Dianne shared that it was Bill’s passion for politics that ended up truly defining Bill’s life and career.

A particularly strong influence on Bill’s decision to switch majors from history to politics was Professor Paul Savage, who was lovingly referred to as “Doc Savage” by his students and received the College’s annual Distinguished Faculty Award in 1986.

Bill did not leave his passion in the classroom, and became very active at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, where he was able to meet and speak with key political figures such as then Presidential Candidate Jimmy Carter.

The Crier was another avenue that Bill utilized, as he served as both an editor and reporter towards the end of his time as Saint Anselm.

Due to the Vietnam War, Dianne recalled that political tensions were high on campus, and Bill would occasionally comment upon the War in a regular Crier point-counterpoint column entitled “Black & White.”

Dianne asked me if The Crier still published a regular column from “Maude Pritchett,” remembering with a laugh that Bill used to be personal friends with the author of “Maude.”

Bill and Dianne married in August of 1977 (the year that Bill graduated), at which point she moved back home to New Jersey and he went on to pursue a PhD from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

During this time, Dianne shared that they used to stay in contact via writing letters, adding with a laugh that it was often difficult to decipher his handwriting (though she certainly appreciated the sentiment).

Bill returned to Saint Anselm as a sabbatical replacement from 1980 to 1981 while he was writing his dissertation, eventually going on after graduating from UMASS Amherst to work as a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and then become a Professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

As a Professor, Dianne shared that Bill was extremely devoted to his students and they respected and liked him a great deal.

Dianne also shared that they moved frequently throughout all of this but always wanted to move back to Southern NH, as they loved that the area was “Rural, but not too rural” and had access to the mountains, ocean and city.

In 2007, the couple finally settled into a home in Bedford, where Dianne still resides.

Dianne and Bill have two children, Catherine and William, the latter of which graduated from Saint Anselm in 2009 and was active in politics at the College like his father before him.

“William was pretty open-minded when he first started looking at colleges, but after touring Saint Anselm’s campus, it became the only school that he wanted to go to,” Dianne recalled, adding that both she and Bill were very proud of both of their children and their accomplishments.

Additionally, when Dianne and Bill returned to campus, she remembers that they felt like they should be students instead of parents visiting for Family Weekend.

Both Dianne and Bill remained active at Saint Anselm through various Alumni committees; along with Bill’s continued involvement with events at NHIOP (he most recently moderated an event with Gov. John Huntsman (R – UT) in the fall of 2013).

As our conversation drew to a close, Dianne stressed how grateful she has been for the Saint Anselm community’s support following Bill’s passing, and how important the college was in his life.

“Saint Anselm gave Bill a solid foundation, and he used it to his maximum benefit,” Dianne stated sincerely. “He left a big footprint and had a lot more to accomplish.”