William Pickett; first lay president at St. John Fisher - Catholic Courier

William Pickett; first lay president at St. John Fisher

William L. Pickett, the first lay president of St. John Fisher College, and then director of pastoral planning for the Diocese of Rochester, died March 29, 2024. He was 83 years old.

A native of Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Pickett received his bachelor’s degree from Rockhurst College in 1962. He earned his master’s degree in English literature at Duke University in 1963 and master’s degree in policy analysis at the University of Missouri — Kansas City in 1972. He completed his doctorate in higher education at the University of Denver in 1977. He also earned a master’s degree in theology from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in 2008.

Mr. Pickett spent the first part of his career in university relations and development at Catholic college. He served as vice president for university relations at the University of San Diego, vice president at the University of Detroit and director of development at Regis College in Denver.

In 1986, he was named the fourth president of St. John Fisher College (now St. John Fisher University) and was its first lay president. In an email announcing Mr. Pickett’s passing to Fisher’s alumni and friends, current president Gerald Rooney said that Mr. Pickett started the university’s quality-management program and oversaw development of its first diversity statement. The nursing program also officially became part of the college, having been a branch of the Alfred University program prior to his presidency.

“He was also known to spend many hours alongside students at the Teddi Dance for Love,” Dr. Rooney recalled in the email.

Mr. Pickett retired from Fisher in 1996 and in 1997 became director of the newly created diocesan Office of Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of Rochester. He served in that role until he retired in 2006. In 2007, he published a book, A Concise Guide to Pastoral Planning, based on his experiences and observations.

Mr. Pickett was involved with many organizations, including Rural & Migrant Ministry, RAIHN, Street Business School, Homeless Outreach Initiative and African Services Family Foundation. He also served two terms on the board of the Urban League of Rochester. He was an active member of St. Mary Church in downtown Rochester and St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mendon, where he was involved in the social-justice ministry and served as a lector.

He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Seitz-Pickett; seven children and one stepchild; 20 grandchildren; four siblings; and nieces, nephews’ cousins and friends.

Calling hours for Mr. Pickett will take place April 19, 2024, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Richard H. Keenan Funeral Home (Egypt location), 7501 Pittsford Palmyra Road, Fairport. His funeral Mass is set for April 20, 2024, at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 26 Mendon Ionia Road, Mendon.

Memorial donations may be made to Shepherd Home at www.shepherdhome.org/memorial-donation.

Tags: NY Catholics
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