William M. Cremin obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Dr. William M. Cremin.

William M. Cremin

Dr. William M. Cremin, Western Michigan University professor emeritus of anthropology and a key member of the anthropology department for more than three decades, died Sept. 10 in Marshall. He was 72.

Cremin, of Albion, joined the faculty in 1975 and retired in 2007 after 32 years of service to the University. He left an outstanding legacy that included serving for many years as director or co-director of the archaeology summer field school and numerous archaeology projects.

His research and teaching interests included subsistence-settlement studies, environmental archaeology, archaeobotany, and the prehistory and ethnohistory of the western Great Lakes/Midwest-riverine area. For the past two decades, he had focused on the transition from foraging to corn agriculture in the southern Lake Michigan basin.

William M. Cremin

Cremin had conducted fieldwork in the Central Plains and Midwest, receiving more than 100 awards in support of his scholarly and applied (cultural resource management) programs of research. The results of that work have appeared in some 100 scholarly articles, books, monographs and compliance reports of archaeological research in the public sector.

At the time of his death, Cremin was collaborating with two WMU colleagues, anthropologist Dr. Michael S. Nassaney and historian Dr. Jose Antonio Brandao, on a multifaceted, long-term study of the site of French Fort St. Joseph (1691-1781) and the fur trade in southwest Michigan under the auspices of Nassaney's Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project.

Cremin was part of the 2002 WMU team that pinpointed the structural remains of the long-forgotten fort site near Niles, and he co-directed the summer digs there for several years afterward. In 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership to Support the Fort for his work with the project.

During his University career, Cremin led field excavations of more than two dozen locations in southwest Michigan alone and served as a consultant for environmental assessment and cultural resource management on more than 100 projects.

He was invited to serve multiple three-year terms on the State of Michigan Historic Preservation Review Board and was an active member of the Conference on Michigan Archaeology, of which he was a fellow. Cremin also was elected to multiple three-year terms on the CMA Board of Directors starting in 1978 and was the organization's treasurer from 1986 to 1989.

His other professional memberships included the Society for American Archaeology and Committee of Anthropologists in Environmental Planning. In addition, he was an Illinois Archaeological Survey Fellow.

Before coming to WMU, Cremin taught at Lake Forest College and prior to that, was a high school teacher in Illinois. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree from Northern Illinois University in 1964 and 1968, respectively, and a doctoral degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1978.


A private family gathering was held.