Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community on June 5, 2023. – Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

I write to share the news that Roy Lunsford Champion, Jr., Chancellor Professor of Physics, Emeritus, passed away on May 8, 2023, with his beloved wife of almost 40 years, Quinn Sale, at his side. In keeping with his personality, the last days of his brief illness were marked by courage, determination, and serenity.

Roy was born in Asheboro, North Carolina, and spent most of his childhood in Wilson, North Carolina. He received his B.S. in 1960 and his M.S. in 1962 from North Carolina State University, and his Ph.D. in experimental physics in 1966 from the University of Florida. He joined the faculty of William & Mary in 1967 as an Assistant Professor of Physics and was promoted to Chancellor Professor in 1997.  From 1982 to 1988 he served as Chair of the Department of Physics. He retired in 2003.

When he arrived in Williamsburg, the physics department was in the vanguard of the transformation of W&M from a college to a university. Professor Champion’s role in this development was twofold. On the one hand, he established, together with his close friend and collaborator, the late Lynn D. Doverspike, a small experimental lab devoted to the study of atomic and molecular physics. For decades this lab produced over a hundred research papers, about a dozen Ph.D. dissertations, and an international reputation for originality and reliability. Alongside three labs focusing on other subfields of physics, his group rapidly became a pillar of the maturing department and university. The second way Professor Champion served W&M was by teaching in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, and by his willingness and helpfulness in administration. He was chair of the physics department and, for a brief time, the applied science department. He acted as a mentor to numerous junior faculty members and was a member or chair of countless committees at both the departmental and the university level. His high standards, as well as the force of his personality and sense of humor, were highly appreciated. Even outside W&M those traits found expression in community service. For example, he was Vice President of a small company that developed low-cost housing with federal funds. Roy’s unique strength was his ability to accurately read people and to find common ground. He was known as a person of great integrity and honesty.

Judging by his impressive list of publications and lectures, the invitations he accepted to work in laboratories in Holland and France, and the continuing substantial federal research support he brought to William & Mary over the years, Professor Champion was a highly respected member of the physics community.  He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and held several national offices.  As a dedicated and innovative teacher, he won the highest praise year after year from both undergraduates and graduate students.

Post retirement, he and Quinn divided their time between homes in Williamsburg and the Bahamas. Roy approached life as a series of adventures with Quinn: sailing between Florida and the Bahamas; building a house on Great Guana Cay in the Abacos; exploring various French regions every year; solving pandemic constraints by living on a boat; and buying an electric bike several months ago as his “last hurrah.” Roy had many diverse interests, including playing tennis and, more recently, pickleball; reading The New York Times cover to cover; and being a master chef who loved to entertain friends and family with his culinary delights. Parlaying his talents as an experimental physicist into DIY projects, Roy could fix or build anything.

Professor Champion is survived by his wife, Quinn; his sister, Julia Walker (Tom); his brother, Doug Champion (Susan Suggs); his son, Jeffrey Champion (Maggie); his daughter-in-law, Amy Champion; and five grandchildren: Ellis, Luke, Kayla, Lexi, and Emma Champion. Roy was predeceased by his eldest son, John Champion, who passed away in 2014.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks that you consider a donation in Roy’s name to Champions Against Cancer by visiting