Elmhurst College: William Watson Boyd, Businessman and Elmhurst Trustee, Dies at 87

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William Watson Boyd, Businessman and Elmhurst Trustee, Dies at 87

William “Bill” Boyd, a Chicago-area businessman and a longtime member and former chair of the Elmhurst College Board of Trustees, died on March 22 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 87. His family members say he “left with no regrets, and had what he himself called a charmed life.” 

Born in Evanston, Mr. Boyd was a lifelong Chicagoan and loved his city. He attended grade school and high school in Evanston, and received his undergraduate degree and graduate degree in business administration from Northwestern University.   

After receiving his MBA, Mr. Boyd headed west. While working as a bellhop in Sun Valley, Idaho, he met Janet Scantland, the woman who would become his wife of almost 60 years. Heading back to the Chicago area, Mr. Boyd landed his first job with Bell & Howell. Looking for more responsibility, he interviewed for a factory foreman job with Kinkead Industries in Chicago. The interview went well, until Bill Kinkead asked Mr. Boyd about his salary expectations. They were higher than what Mr. Kinkead was prepared to pay, but as Mr. Boyd was leaving the office, Mr. Kinkead opened the door and shouted, “Young man, I like your attitude. You’re hired.” 

Mr. Boyd spent many years at Kinkead Industries, eventually becoming its president. He left Kinkead to become a group vice president at United States Gypsum. He successfully built their home products division, in part by acquiring Kinkead Industries. He and a colleague at USG eventually left the company to purchase the Sterling Faucet Company. What became the Sterling Plumbing Group later was acquired by the Kohler Company. Mr. Boyd continued to run Sterling following the acquisition, and served for many years on the Kohler Company’s board.

After his retirement, Mr. Boyd, affectionately known as the “Energizer Bunny,” remained active as a member of the boards of Kohler, Cummins Allison and Elmhurst College. He was a member of the Elmhurst College Board of Trustees since 1985, and served as its chair from 1992 until 1997.

In 1997 Mr. Boyd and his wife, Janet, gave the College a nine-foot bronze statue of theologian and alumnus Reinhold Niebuhr. The work of sculptor Robert Berks, the statue overlooks the plaza in front of the Frick Center and remains a popular gathering place for students. The Boyds also generously funded student scholarships.

During his six-month battle with lymphoma, Mr. Boyd retained his signature sense of humor and positive attitude, his family said. He is survived by his sons, Bruce and Keith; his daughter, Ann; and seven grandchildren. His wife passed away in 2011.  

A memorial service to celebrate Mr. Boyd’s life will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, at the First Congregational Church of Wilmette. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the William and Janet Boyd Scholarship Fund at Elmhurst College. To make your gift, please visit this secure website or call the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (630) 617-6424.


 
 

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