William J. Chambliss
criminologist, professor

William J. Chambliss, a criminologist and professor of sociology at George Washington University for more than two decades, died Feb. 22 at his home in Washington. He was 80.

The cause was cancer, said a daughter, Lauren Chambliss.

Dr. Chambliss was a sociology professor at the University of Delaware for a decade before joining George Washington University’s sociology department in 1986. He co-directed the university’s Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections and taught courses in criminology, criminal justice, sociological theory and the sociology of law.

According to the Law and Society Association, Dr. Chambliss was a leading figure in conflict criminology and the contemporary sociology of law. Earlier in his teaching career, he taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

William Joseph Chambliss was born in Buffalo, N.Y. He was a 1955 sociology graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and received a PhD in sociology from the University of Indiana in 1962.

He wrote, co-authored and edited more than 25 books and published scholarly articles. His honors included two lifetime achievement awards from the American Sociological Association. He was past president of the American Criminological Society and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

In 2012, the Society for the Study of Social Problems created the William J. Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award to “recognize career-spanning excellence and achievement in the area of law and society.”

His marriage to Louisa Mackie ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Pernille Baadsager Chambliss of Washington; three children from his first marriage, Lauren Chambliss of Ithaca, N.Y., and Jeff Chambliss and James Chambliss, both of Santa Barbara; a sister; and four grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough