Bill Thetford was
born into a Midwestern middle-class family and grew up on the south side
of Chicago. He was the youngest of three children and the only one to survive
to religion was erratic as a child. Until the age of seven, he attended
the Sunday School of the Christian Science Church where his parents were
members. But following the death of his sister when he was seven, his parents
renounced their church affiliation and he attended various Protestant churches
– Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregational – until his adolescence.
It was during this
period that Bill developed a severe case of scarlet fever which led to
rheumatic fever and a serious heart condition. He spent three years recuperating
at home and reading voraciously. Despite his absence from the classroom,
he entered high school at the age of twelve. Following graduation from
high school, he was awarded a four-year scholarship to DePauw University
in Indiana where he graduated with majors in psychology and pre-medicine.
Bill was accepted
at the University of Chicago's Medical School for the class of 1944. To
help support himself, he accepted a job at the University's Metallurgical
Laboratory which turned out to be the location of the atomic bomb research
program, where he served as an administrative liaison officer between the
scientific community and the university administration. Because of the
great sense of national urgency, he canceled plans for entering medical
school continuing to work in this research program until the bomb was dropped
in August 1945.
The following month,
Bill began graduate studies in psychology and served as a teaching and
research assistant to Dr. Carl Rogers. After receiving his Ph.D. in psychology
in 1949, Bill spent three years at the Washington School of Psychiatry.
In 1954, he was named Director of the Psychology Department at the Institute
of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. The following year he accepted an appointment
at Cornell University Medical College where he remained until 1958 when
he accepted a professorship at Columbia University. That same year he hired
Dr. Helen Schucman
as a research psychologist.
Since "A Course
In Miracles" was published, Bill Thetford has co-edited Choose
Once Again, selections from the Course. Until his death he resided
in Tiburon, California, where he serves as a Consultant Medical Specialist
in Family Medicine at Travis Air Force Base and as a Director of the Center
for Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon.
Bill Thetford died
on July 4, 1988. On that day, not long before he collapsed of a heart
attack, he had announced to his close friend Judy Skutch Whitson that it
was Independence Day and finally he himself felt free.