William Straus Fields was born in Baltimore, Maryland on August 18, 1913. He graduated from Harvard with his A.B. cum laude in 1934 and then with his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1938. He was a recipient of the Mary and Matthew E. Bartlett Scholarship there from 1935-1938. following graduation he was an intern in pathology at Nashville General Hospital and the Department of Pathology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine until 1939. From 1939-1940 he was an intern in medicine at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He then served as the assistant resident in medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal from 1940-1941. He served for five and a half months in neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute before joining the Royal Canadian Navy.
While serving the Royal Canadian Navy, William Fields held ranks from Surgeon-Lieutenant to Surgeon-Commander. He was part of the Naval Research Division doing wartime research at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Banting Institute at the University of Toronto from 1943-1945. From 1945-1946 he served as the Principal Medical Officer for the Naval Officer in Charge at the Port of Montreal. Following his service in the Royal Canadian Navy, he was the Rockefeller Fellow in Neuropsychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and resident in Neurology at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri from 1946 to 1949.
He was appointed to Associate Professor of Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine in 1949 and he served until 1951. In 1951 he was promoted to Professor of Neurology and in 1959, he became Chairman of the Department of Neurology where he served until 1965. we served as a Professor of Neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and then at The University of Texas Medical School in Houston where he ultimately became the Chairman of the Department of Neurology. He also held staff and consulting positions at many Texas and Houston-area hospitals.
During his career he served the Methodist Hospital, Jefferson Davis and Ben Taub Hospitals, Parkland Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital, St. Luke's Episcopal, and Texas Children's Hospitals and St. Joseph Hospital, St. Anthony Center and Hermann Hospital as a staff member. He also worked as a consultant for Hermann, St. Luke's Texas Children's, M.D. Anderson and Diagnostic Center Hospitals, the Veterans Administration, Wilford Hall AF Hospital, St. Paul Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center, and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute.