William Lowell Putnam, Trustee Emeritus
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1924, Bill Putnam is the son of Roger Lowell Putnam (the trustee of Lowell Observatory for 40 years) and Caroline Piatt Jenkins. As sole trustee of Lowell Observatory, Putnam brought a wealth of business experience and a lifetime of ingrained family commitment to the stewardship of one of the largest privately operated research observatories in the world. Putnam is the grandnephew of Percival Lowell, the Observatory?s founder.
Before assuming the Lowell trusteeship in 1987, Putnam had accumulated nearly 40 years of management experience. As founder, president and CEO of the Springfield Television Corporation, Bill Putnam oversaw the operation of three television stations, including the NBC affiliate in western Massachusetts. During this time, he performed a variety of duties ranging from guiding the building of facilities to staffing cameras and delivering editorials. In 2001, Putnam was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
At Lowell, Bill was particularly interested in opening our facilities to the public. During his tenure, a new 6,500-square-foot visitor center was built and programs for visitors were greatly expanded. He also was instrumental in beautifying our grounds. In part because of his efforts, which included personally building many stone walls and planting dozens of trees, we received a number of awards. Putnam also established an international advisory board of lay people and distinguished astronomers to help guide the Observatory into the future.
Former Lowell Observatory director Robert Millis says that Putnam's greatest contribution was been his encouragement of an aggressive management approach, which entails long-range planning, risk-taking, and experimentation. As a result, both research staff and facilities expanded significantly and private sector support grew from almost zero to nearly $2.5 million in 2006.
Putnam is also a trustee of the Mt. Washington Observatory in North Conway, N.H.