William C. Spencer, 86, a college and foundation president who consulted with the United Nations and State Department, died Nov. 2 at Virginia Hospital Center. He had a stroke Oct. 30 while returning to Washington on a flight from Peru.
He had lived for the past two years at Greenspring Village, a retirement community in Springfield.
Over the past 10 years, Dr. Spencer had led tours to Botswana, South Africa, New Zealand, Bali, Turkey, Latin America and little-known sections of Russia and China to promote international understanding. The journeys, which began informally with Dr. Spencer and a few friends, grew out of his many years of working in education and in furthering international cooperation. He was leading a group of 16 people back from an expedition to the headwaters of the Amazon River at the time he was stricken.
Dr. Spencer was born in Uniontown, Pa., and graduated from Drew University in Madison, N.J. He received a master's degree in education from Columbia University in 1942 and a doctorate in education from Columbia in 1946. He served in the Navy during World War II and was wounded off Normandy Beach during the D-Day landings of 1944.
He began his career teaching sixth grade at a private school in Scarsdale, N.Y., in the late 1940s. He then became a professor of education at the University of Delaware and, during the 1950s, led an experimental master's degree program at New York University, training liberal arts graduates to become teachers.
In 1959 and 1960, he led a one-year program in Chile, sponsored by the United Nations, to introduce U.S. concepts of education to countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In the 1960s, he was associate dean of the Graduate School of Business at Columbia and led a development effort at the university. He then directed the Institute of International Education, a New York organization designed to broaden educational opportunity throughout the world.
In 1970, Dr. Spencer became president of Western College, a part of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He was president of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., from 1976 to 1982.
In the 1980s, Dr. Spencer was president of the Fund for Peace, a New York nonprofit organization that promoted research on defense, peace and national security. He later became president of the Fund for Higher Education, which raised scholarship monies for students studying abroad. He retired in 1995.
Dr. Spencer lived in Scarsdale and in Connecticut before moving to Springfield. At Greenspring Village, he was chairman of the finance committee and of the Great Decisions lecture series. He delivered many talks in the community's lecture series and was active in other discussion programs. He was nominated to the Resident Advisory Council just before his death.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Evelyn Bailey Spencer of Springfield; three sons, Courtney Spencer of Montville, N.J., H. Bailey Spencer of Alexandria and Ted Spencer of New York City; a brother; and two grandchildren.