Donald William Bratrud was born July 11, 1925, in Daysland, Alberta, where his father Orvil Bratrud was tending a small store, which failed in the hard days of 1929; Orvil went back to the Bratrud family homestead and his wife, Bill's mother, Anne (Watson) Bratrud, continued with her teaching career.
Orvil's health was failing and Bill helped with the farming and with Depression hard times even when he'd started classes at University of Alberta. He and his brother Allan, born ten years later, both distinguished themselves by achievements off the farm; Allan ended his 40-year career as C.E.O. of the Alberta Treasury Branches.
After obtaining his B.Sc. Ag in 1952, Bill joined the Dominion Experimental Farm Service in Fort Vermilion, Alberta, in the north Peace River area.
In 1953, Bill married Jean Scott, B.Sc. (Honors), University of Alberta, 1952. At that time he changed his name to Bray, a variation commonly used in the Bratrud family following their arrival in the U.S. from Norway in 1879. They had three sons, Timothy William (born 1955), married to Lauren Wood with a son (born 1999) and daughter (born 2006); Robert Orval (1961), married to Leslie Enns with children William, Anne, and Elizabeth Enns-Bray; and Donald Scott Nuhad (1964).
In 1956 he went to the Oregon State University at Corvallis, Oregon to begin his postgraduate studies. His doctoral thesis was designed to make use of the wonderful new tool, the computer, for the analysis of a lot of statistical field data. Unfortunately, the university's decision to replace their Generation 1 computer with the new Gen 2 variety shut down the system, leaving Bill to do all his analysis the old fashioned way on an adding machine. Nevertheless, he succeeded in obtaining his M.Sc in Agronomy and Ph.D. in Plant Breeding, with minors in Botany and Statistics, by 1962.
Bill was interested in overseas work and accepted the position of Associate Professor of Agriculture at the American University of Beirut. He lived on a research station in rural Lebanon for five years, putting him in very close touch with the people and country. After moving into Beirut in 1967 he remained there until 1976, except for a sabbatical at the University of Guelph, 1973-74.
At the American University of Beirut he was a successful and popular teacher, with many of his graduate students going on to good careers in countries around the world. His course on Field Plot Technique was in especially high demand. He was also concerned about the quality of thesis writing, because the students were all working in a language foreign to them, and wrote a manual which gained use in several faculties. His main area of research was in forage crops.
While on leave in 1976 he was offered the position of Agriculture Specialist on the Saskatchewan Science Policy Secretariat, which he accepted because of the uncertainty of life in Lebanon with the civil war going on.
In 1978 he was approached by Norman Borlaug, of the Green Revolution movement, to return to the Middle East. He joined the ICARDA program, centered in Aleppo, Syria, and opened the outreach program for it in Jordan, living in Amman and remaining there until 1981.
Bill was divorced from Jean in 1984 and was married to Willa Flemming from 1984 to 1989.
After 1981, Bill worked in a USA government project in Morocco, then with CIDA at the University in Lusaka, Zambia, and ended his overseas career in Tanzania where he worked as a researcher on the Tanzania-Canada Wheat Project with former classmate Hugh Campbell who was Project Director.
He retired to Edmonton, and ended his career with part-time work at the University of Alberta.
Bill moved to Vancouver in 1997; his struggle with Alzheimer's disease was not pleasant but was brightened by the warm and competent care provided by the staff at South Granville Park Lodge, Yaletown House, and Amherst Private Hospital.