Retired as Chief of NATO Headquarters in Brussels


WAYLAND — William B. Birkmaier, Jr., 79, of Wayland and formerly of Lebanon, N.H. and North Reading, Mass., passed away at his home on Saturday, September 16, 2023.

Bill was born on April 13, 1944. He was the son of the late William B. and Catherine (Witham) Birkmaier. He was raised in North Reading and was a graduate of North Reading High School and the U.S. Naval Academy. He received his master’s degree in Computer Systems Management from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Bill retired as a U.S. Navy Captain, while in the role of Chief of the NATO Headquarters Situation Center in Brussels, Belgium. He served his country for 30 years, and was a Vietnam Veteran.

Bill enjoyed life to the fullest. Throughout his life, he sought out new experiences and adventures, whether through travel, restaurants, music or art. He instilled in his children an appreciation for other cultures and encouraged them to try new foods, listen to new music and learn new languages.  His Navy career allowed Bill, his wife and his children to travel all over the world, and to experience life in places such as Hawaii, Washington state, Germany and Belgium. He valued education and insisted his children learn as much as possible, experience many things, and find joy everywhere. He was well known for his sense of humor. He especially loved a good “dad joke.”

He had a unique ability to care deeply about others. He was a proxy dad to many others, and could always be relied upon to provide thoughtful and wise advice. He had a tremendous capacity for remembering facts. Before the internet existed, one could ask him any question about science, politics or history, and he would know the answer.

He was the best and most loving father, husband and grandfather to his wife, his three children, and his five grandchildren.

Bill is survived by his beloved and beautiful wife of 53 years, Laura (Lebron-Lopez) Birkmaier; his son, William Birkmaier; daughters, Sherry Calderon and Cristina Birkmaier; sisters, Lori O’Rourke and Lynne Heywood; grandchildren, Skyler, Liam, Oliver, Nicolas, and Luca; daughter- and son-in-law, Christelle Birkmaier and Harold Calderon; and many nieces and nephews. He was the loving brother to Karl and Mark Birkmaier.

A public graveside service is being held at the veterans’ section of Riverside Cemetery, 171 Elm Street in North Reading, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 30. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington state. Link:

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