William Edward (Bill) Pence IV, a longtime Bedford resident and former Bedford Historical Society board member who held leadership positions in technology, health care and media industries, died Sept. 2. He was 57. The cause of death was pancreaticobiliary cancer.
He was born in Limestone, Maine, and lived in Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida, before moving to Manassas, Virginia, where he spent most of his childhood. He graduated in 1984 from the University of Virginia, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in physics with high distinction. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Cornell University in 1989.
At the time of his death, he was a member of the board of directors of John Wiley & Sons
and served as a consultant providing advisory services for incubator companies while also
collaborating on the development of a startup company. He also was the chair of a Cornell
University College of Engineering Advisory Board, an alumni advisor for the University of
Virginia Department of Media Studies and a member of the board of the Bedford Historical
Society. He was well-versed in local history and enjoyed organizing the 240th
anniversary reenactment of the Burning of Bedford last September.
“Bill was every executive director’s dream of a board member — thoughtful, creative and active, he contributed in ways large and small,” BHS Executive Director Lynn Ryan told The Record-Review.
She continued, “When we began thinking about the 240th anniversary of the Burning of Bedford in 2019, Bill stepped up and led the charge by planning a year of events commemorating this historic day that culminated in the reenactment on the Village Green which brought more than 500 people to Bedford. His kindness, humor and generous spirit will be missed by all of us.”
Prior to his retirement in 2017 as chief technology officer of AOL, he led the company’s global technology strategy and was instrumental in the sale of the company to Verizon in 2015 and the acquisition of Yahoo in 2016. Between 2007 and 2014 he served as an executive vice president of WebMD in the role of chief operating officer and chief technology officer while the company was moving to mobile applications.
Before joining WebMD, he was the senior vice president and chief technology officer for
Universal Music Group’s online initiatives and the PressPlay joint venture with Sony. The
PressPlay venture served as the basis for the relaunched Napster, the world’s first portable
subscription streaming music service.
Previously, he worked at IBM, where he held various technology management positions in research as well as in the software and product divisions. He held six U.S. patents.
Mr. Pence was continually learning, teaching and mentoring, and found many opportunities to give back to the community, family members said. His enrolled in classes at the Culinary Institute of America, researched how to build dry-stacked rock walls, and became certified fluent in Spanish.
In addition, he conducted mock interviews for high school students and interviewed college applicants for Cornell University and the University of Virginia Jefferson Scholarship. He was a mentor for young students and professionals and a confidant to his peers. He enjoyed teaching English as a second language at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco and traveling to the Dominican Republic on humanitarian trips with Bridges to Community. He was a member of the Bedford Presbyterian Church.
He was predeceased by his father, William Edward Pence III. Survivors include his wife of 27 years, Dr. Maria (Blasiak) Pence; their children, Beatrice and Henry of Bedford; his mother, Peggy Ann (Will) Pence of Haymarket, Virginia, his brother, Scott, of Herndon, Virginia; and other family members.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Bedford Presbyterian Church, located at 44 Village Green, Bedford. The family requests that memorial donations be made to Feeding Westchester at feedingwestchester.org or the Rewarding Potential Scholarship at rewardingpotentialscholarship.org.