William J. Bula, age 63 of Madison, WI, died of glioblastoma on Thursday, May 10, 2018. Bill was born on June 5, 1954 in Palmer, AK and moved to West Lafayette, IN at age two. He met the love of his life, Elizabeth J. Neary at Notre Dame in the architecture library. Their early courtship included a full year of letter writing while he studied in Rome and Beth remained on campus. Bill received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame in 1977. Bill and Beth were married on August 19, 1978 in Bayonne, NJ. They celebrated with their immediate families at the newly opened Windows on the World at the World Trade Center and that celebration never ended as they enjoyed 40 incredible years of marriage and friendship.
Bill found his passion in architecture early in life and deeply enjoyed the challenges and creativity that were part of his daily work. He worked at architecture firms in Indiana and Princeton, New Jersey before joining Flad Architects as a part-time employee in 1982. Bill worked at Flad for nearly 36 years and played a role in growing Flad into a nationally recognized firm with 9 offices around the country. Bill was named President and CEO in 2005 and served in that capacity for the last thirteen years. Humble and kind, he supported colleagues and found special joy in mentoring young architects. He designed research labs for Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Novartis, Pacific Northwest Laboratories and corporate facilities for ACT and Pepsi. He was especially proud of the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at University of Alberta, first of its kind in Canada. Locally, he worked on American Family Insurance and Engineering Centers at UW Madison. As a very young architect, he designed the penguin exhibit at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. Projects and accomplishments were important to Bill, but his greatest joy was the people he worked with, colleagues and clients, who often became friends. He would often say - "it's about the people."
While meaningful work was always important, the absolute joy of Bill's life was his family, especially his love, Beth. They were best friends and each other's best compliment. He was a selfless, tender, patient father who loved his daughters with all his heart. When Christine was 5 months and Claire was 3, Bill stayed home with the girls, working part time so that Beth could advance her education. He coached basketball and soccer teams, went on Girl Scout trips, and made his children laugh uncontrollably. The greatest gift he gave to his daughters was the way he loved their mother. His three granddaughters adored their "silly Papa." Bill would spend countless hours playing in the park, building sandcastles on the beach, and holding them in his lap while reading to them.
Always hospitable, Bill loved cooking and teaching others to cook... saying "to cook is to show your love." He had only kind words to say about everyone, was always willing to listen, and calm and steady in any situation. Humor was one of his greatest gifts and he used it to make others feel comfortable, welcomed, and loved.
In honor of Bill, don't wait to open the good wine, invite your friends over spontaneously, take that trip you've dreamed of, and tell your family you love them - every day.
He is survived by his best friend, soulmate, and the love of his life, Elizabeth J. Neary, M.D.; daughters Claire Bula, Esq. (Kevin Keenan) and Christine (Brian) Williams; granddaughters Julia, Anna, and Samantha Williams; mother and father Raymond and Mary Bula; and siblings Greg, Michael (Anne Marie), Joseph, Margaret (Jim) Zimmerman, Julie (Michael) Davies, Cathy (Michael) Acton, Carol (Daniel) Geenen, siblings-in-law Brian (Lisa) Neary and Bernadette (Bill) Macko, and many nieces and nephews.
The family would especially like to thank Dr. Robert Dempsey for his extraordinary care and friendship; the doctors, nurses and staff at Agrace Hospice, The University of Wisconsin Hospital, and UW Home Health; and our remarkable neighbors who cared for our entire family with food, errands, and friendship. In the midst of this terrible disease, we were consistently surrounded by love. Bill would say often over the last six months, we are blessed to be so loved.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH, 2121 Rowley Ave, Madison, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 11 a.m. with burial at Resurrection Cemetery to follow. A visitation will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and at church on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass.
To honor Bill and in lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to University of Wisconsin Neurological Surgery Tumor Research and Education Fund.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison
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As leader of the ONPA architectural team in Edmonton AB Canada I had the privilege of working in collaboration with Bill on the CCIS project at UA in Edmonton. Working with Bill was an absolute pleasure. He had the ability to lead and bring the best out in everyone and make the project better. He also became a friend to all of the Canadian architectural and engineering teams working on the project. His dedication and loyalty to that team was incredible. We are all devastated at the loss of this “prince of a guy”. Bill, we will not forget you. Laura O’Neill
I'm so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. We had a great time growing up in West Lafayette.
West Lafayette, Indiana
Our deepest sympathy to the Bula family from Lynn and Lorran Celley. Ray and Mary, I think of you often and wonder how you are. I can't imagine the sadness that you feel with Bill's death. It was always a pleasure to hear Ray's news about where the kids were and what new adventures they were pursuing. I remember when Bill had the opportunity to work on the zoo project. Such a beautiful family. Love to all.
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