William Fenn Giles II, age 77, of Auburn, AL, passed away, Monday, May 24, 2021 after a battle with cancer followed by an acute illness.
Born in Savannah, GA, April 25, 1944, to Robert Fenn and Frances Exley Giles, Bill was the oldest of four siblings and carried fond memories of spending the summers with his family at Tybee Island. He completed his secondary education at Savannah Country Day School and then enrolled at Duke University, graduating with a degree in Political Science in 1966. He then went on to obtain an MBA from the University of Georgia in 1969 before joining Vulcan Materials in Birmingham, AL for a brief period. Eager to pursue an academic career in higher education, Bill attended the University of Tennessee where he earned a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology in 1974.
He came to Auburn University after graduation where he enjoyed a fulfilling career for 37 years as a Professor of Human Resource Management in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. Bill derived so much pleasure from collaborative research with his colleagues, as well as teaching and mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students. His dedication to preparing the next generation for professional success is perhaps best demonstrated by his role for many years as advisor to the Auburn student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and by the students themselves who voted him outstanding professor on four different occasions.
Bill was a devoted husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend to many. He will be best remembered for the deep love he had for his wife and two daughters, his gentle spirit and warm smile, and his acceptance of whatever life brought his way. His posture towards life is best summarized by the words of Micah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Fenn and Frances Exley Giles. Survivors include his loving wife of 34 years, Harriet Watkins Giles; two daughters, Katherine Davis Giles and Margaret Giles Perkins (Evan); three siblings, Annette Elizabeth Fay, Robert Fenn Giles Junior (Ann), and James Mallette Giles (Ann); sister-in-law, Paula Watkins Harris (Russell); as well as several nieces, nephews, cousins, and special friends.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 A.M., Friday, May 28, 2021, in the Auburn United Methodist Church sanctuary. The service will be preceded by a visitation in the sanctuary at 10:00 A.M. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Bill Giles Memorial Gifts Fund – Human Resource Management (AuburnGiving.org/Giles or The Harbert College of Business, 405 W. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 503, Auburn, AL 36849) or Embrace Alabama Kids, formerly known as the United Methodist Children’s Home (embracealkids.org/donate or 3140 Zelda Court, Suite 100, Montgomery, AL 36106).
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