Wilbur Frank Storer
Please click here for a photo gallery collection of Wilbur's career at Nobles.
Who could forget Wilbur Storer? Storyteller, athletic trainer, witty presence on campus and master of the classroom mini-explosion, he affected us in a variety of ways. Here are a few reminiscences of Wilbur from friends, family and former students:
Wilbur was one of nine children, and the twin of Warren (Dick was the youngest child). The family grew up during the hard years of the Depression on a dairy farm in Waltham, MA. As a result, Wilbur (and his brothers) inherited their father’s hard work ethics and practical values. At the same time, family life was full of lots of humor, laughter and practical jokes. Wilbur was charmed with the essence of fun which stayed with him throughout his life, and passed this on not only to his own children, but to his students as well.
Wilbur met the love of his life, Betty (Elizabeth) Trask when they were 14 years old. Betty was an only child, and soon became part of the big Storer clan. They knew they would marry but waited until after college and until Wilbur had a job to support his family, which turned out to be after he served in WW II. In the service, Wilbur taught aerial gunnery and he, Betty and new baby lived on base in Pensacola FL, in a Quonset hut. Even during these difficult years, Wilbur somehow found fun wherever he could. Every day, Wilbur flew over their hut at a planned time and shot aerial pictures of Betty holding up baby Bonnie to the camera in the sky!
Wilbur was the first in his family to attend college and he chose Boston University. He excelled in both academics and sports. Despite his short stature, Wilbur lettered in multiple sports including Football, Wrestling, Track, and Diving.
Always working to earn extra money, Wilbur had many odd jobs while in college. One of these found him in the ring of professional wrestling at the seaside arena at Nantasket beach, where he was known as “The Little Professor.”
Wilbur and Betty had two children, Bonnie and Jay (class of ’65). Staying close with the big Storer clan, weekly family dinners and visits, picnics and holidays were part of everyday life. Wilbur, with his brothers and sisters continued to best each other with practical jokes for the rest of their lives, with the next generation, and next, continuing the tradition.
The consummate Mr. Fix It, Wilbur and Betty took on revitalizing the old family summer cottage in Newburyport during their early years of marriage. Built (or rather, “assembled”) by his grandparents, Wilbur patched together rooms and was proud of his “Mickey-Moussed” shower stall. The family spent every summer at the cottage -- fishing off Plum Island, hiking, going to country auctions and loving nature. The cottage survived years of kids and visitors and has now been rebuilt to a year-round new residence, owned by Wilbur's grand-daughter and her husband.
Taking advantage of every opportunity to serve and appreciate nature, Wilbur and his family also spent summers at camp. For many years, Wilbur served as camp counselor and Director at the YMCA summer camp at North Woods, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee. Never idle, Wilbur combined his love of nature, teaching and having fun with kids, and earning a little extra money, too.
Teaching Chemistry and coaching sports at Nobles were an important part of Wilbur’s life. He loved teaching and engaging students in many untraditional ways—as many of his students remember, things seem to always blow up in Mr. Storer’s class! He was instrumental in the development of the Therapy Room, where he and Warren were fixtures, even into their retirement years.
Wilbur passed on his love of family, science, nature, humor and his admirable life values to his family, children, grandchildren and innumerable Nobles students. He embodied the essence of Nobles, living true to himself, living with integrity and honesty, and always, a true source of inspiration to others.
Jay Storer, Nobles '65 and Wilbur's son
I have a lot of memories of Wilbur Storer, both as a coach and as a chemistry teacher, but by far the most vivid (though not the most pleasant) is of Wilbur rushing out onto the mat to reset my dislocated elbow, suffered in a wrestling match senior year against Rivers. He knew exactly what to do, and did it without hesitation. I was in excruciating pain (by far the worst of my life), which reduced a great deal when Wilbur popped my elbow back in. If he had not been there, I have no idea how long it would have been before the elbow was reset, but I don't like to think about this. As it was, I still had a long recovery, but it was a lot better than it might have been, thanks to Wilbur's knowledge and quick action.
Academically, I think the thing which stands out to me the most about Wilbur as a teacher was how genuinely kind and gentle he was to us in his class. Senior year for me was mostly a tough grind of tough courses, taught by superb -- but tough -- teachers. Wilbur's Chemistry was the exception in my schedule: we certainly learned the subject, but the atmosphere in his class was much more relaxed (and occasionally even fun) than in the others. Nobles today is much more "nurturing" than in the 60's, so I suppose that Wilbur was well ahead of his time in this.
Maurice Hamilburg, Nobles '64
Wilbur was one of 9 children, including his twin Warren and youngest brother Dick. Both Warren and Dick worked at Nobles for many years. Times were tough during the years of the depression. I remember Dad telling us that they had to use candles if they didn’t have a quarter to put in the electric meter. One time Wilbur walked to the hospital, had his appendix out and walked home. Wilbur worked as early as 12 driving a milk truck all the way to Sudbury.
Wilbur met Betty in high school. Soon after High School Wilbur attended Boston University. While there he had several ways of supporting himself. He and twin Warren were a professional wrestling tag team. Wilbur’s professional name was Boo Boo White. After graduation he married Betty and Wilbur became an officer in the Navy and was a gunnery instructor. During that time their first child, Bonnie, came along. Early movies taken in Quonset, RI were taken with a gunnery camera and the films had the target cross in the middle.
Wilbur inherited a Victorian cottage in Newbury shortly after the war. It was not used very much for many years as the family was employed at camps in Willsboro, NY and Mirror Lake, NH. Finally the cottage became the summer escape for family and friends. Wilbur and Betty’s grand-daughter has built a new home on the same lot overlooking the Parker River Wildlife Refuge.
The Nobles years were wonderful and the perfect place for a man full of energy and the love of teaching. He is known for explosive classes in chemistry and years as the wrestling coach. Betty and Bonnie could not watch the matches because Wilbur would be on the floor of the mat trying to win for his team. A memorable story is that Wilbur took a chemistry class to the dungeon in the castle. Yes, there was a real dungeon. There he found hidden in a secret compartment military rations from WW2. They brought the find back to the class and proceeded to eat the 50 year old hard tack.
Wilbur was a typical Yankee collector. Once when Nobles was replacing windows in a certain building, he availed himself of 5 windows which he installed at the cottage bathroom. Not too many homes have 5 windows in their bathroom.
Wilbur and Betty’s son, Jay, graduated from Nobles, class of 65. He observed first hand just how loved his Dad was to the Nobles students and faculty. Jay and Bonnie presented Wilbur and Betty, three beautiful grand children, Michelle, Mark and Elizabeth. Wilbur embodied the essence of Nobles, living true to himself, living with integrity and honesty, and a true source of inspiration to others.
Bonnie Ouellette, Wilbur's daughter
Wilbur and Jim Bird were great pals, and often had coffee together at Dunkin Donuts after afternoon sports ended.
Wilbur was a devoted member of the Unitarian Church in Dedham, and often assisted with various tasks. One day he was up in the belfry correcting the hands on the clock when a dowager looked up at him from below in surprise. Wilbur’s response was to chant “Cuckoo! Cuckoo!”
At the end of each wrestling season, Wilbur and his wife, Betty, held a reception for the team at their home. One year he gave each team member a tie clasp with the member's name engraved on the back with an electric engraver.
Watching Wilbur during a wrestling match was often more fun than watching the wrestlers. As a wrestler himself, he would get so carried away that he was known on occasion to start putting wrestling moves on whoever was sitting beside him.
Chris Morss, Nobles ‘58
Please click here for a photo gallery collection of Wilbur's career at Nobles
This comment was originally posted by Bill Miles in April of 2016
2 remembrances from my days of chem class with Mr. Storer. The first was probably quite typical –taking a little dry ice and dropping in the toilets – wondering if the fire alarm would be sounded as the carbon dioxide cloud seeped out under the stall door. The second was inspired when he taught us how one molecule of oxygen and one molecule of hydrogen would not make water but rather an explosion. When he wasn’t looking, we put the tubes for the tanks of oxygen and hydrogen into a bubble mixture on a plate and open that out. We blew in what in hindsight was much too much gas making many too many bubbles. Tossing a match into the bubbles from below the chem table resulted in, I recall, blowing several windows out of the chem lab. Maybe someone else remembers this or maybe it’s my memory that doesn’t remember this correctly? Either way it was fun and a fun memory of Wilbur Storer. I also recall him telling us the tricks of the pro wrestling ring and how the sounds and movements of the wrestlers in the ring were rigged to look more severe than they really were.
Bill Miles, Nobles ’64