William H. Rayner
Educator, author, surveyor
By Professors Emeritus W. J. Hall and J. D. Haltiwanger
William Horace Rayner was born on February 16, 1884, in Ewing, Nebraska. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1909. In 1910, one year after receiving his degree, he entered employment with the University and served with distinction as a member of the faculty for a period of 42 years until his retirement in 1952. In 1913 the professional degree of Civil Engineer and in 1920 the Master's Degree in Education were conferred upon him by UIUC.
Rayner was a vigorous proponent of quality education in surveying for civil engineering students. His great enthusiasm for teaching was matched by his energetic efforts to improve the technical literature of his field. The authority accorded his textbooks is evidenced by their wide and continued acceptance over more than 40 years of use. He was the co-author, with R.E. Davis and F.S. Foote, of "Surveying" which was published by McGraw-Hill in 1928. He was the sole author of "Elementary Surveying" and "Advanced Surveying, " which appeared in 1937 and 1942, respectively, as publications of the D. Van Nostrand Company. In 1957 the text "Surveying — Elementary and Advanced", was prepared by Rayner, in collaboration with Milton 0. Schmidt, and in 1969 "Elementary Surveying" appeared in its fifth edition as "Fundamentals of Surveying" by Rayner and Schmidt, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold.
In educational and technical circles Rayner left a significant and lasting imprint. He was a prime mover of the Quintennial National Surveying Teachers Conferences sponsored by the Civil Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. He served as a member of the executive committee of the Surveying and Mapping Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers from 1948-1952 and as its chairman in the latter year.
His persevering efforts led to the establishment in 1946 of the Summer Surveying Camp near Blackduck, Minnesota, for civil engineering students at the University of Illinois and he directed the educational program of this facility for the six years prior to retirement. For his long service with the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, he was honored with Life Memberships by these leading organizations. To recognize appropriately his contributions to education in land surveying, the Illinois Registered Land Surveyors Association funded the Rayner Award which for many years was given to outstanding senior civil engineering students majoring in surveying at the University of Illinois.
Although Rayner was a notable author and accomplished teacher, he was remembered much more distinctively for his continual cultivation of the amenities of ordinary living. Shy and retiring by nature, self-effacing, genteel and urbane, he symbolized for his many friends John Cardinal Newman's prime definition of more than 100 years ago of a gentleman, viz. "… It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain …" It is in this context of quiet respect and abiding esteem for one who practiced altruism throughout his life that his former colleagues best regarded and most fittingly recalled him; truly a gentleman, author, educator and scholar.
Professor Rayner died in 1969 and was preceded in death by his wife, Francis Leonard Rayner. They had one daughter and one son.