William Younger Sr., a leader, supporter and friend at Lakeland for four decades, died on May 7. He was 93.
A tireless advocate of Lakeland and its mission, Younger was a friend, advisor and mentor to Lakeland presidents and senior staff. He served as director of the Lakeland Center for Business and Economics and later as a member of the institution’s Board of Trustees. He enjoyed frequent visits to campus, talking to faculty, staff and students to understand what was happening and how he could assist.
With his late wife, Phyllis, and their family, they have been faithful and generous donors to Lakeland, providing funding not only for the campus center that bears their name, but also for the William H. and Phyllis Younger Scholarship, which makes a Lakeland education accessible to financially deserving students.
In 2013, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Lakeland’s commencement.
“Bill was deeply good, very wise and powerfully competent in his vocations of family member, trustee and business person,” said Lakeland President David Black. “Although analytical, his remarkable mind was also decisive and action focused. To many of us, he was bigger than life. We will miss him greatly, but will be reminded of his importance to Lakeland every time we enter the Younger Family Campus Center.”
In 2003, the Younger family made a multi-million gift, the largest in the school’s history, in support of A Legacy for Lakeland, a $15 million comprehensive campaign that funded improvements to the Chase Science Center, the Wehr Athletic Center expansion and Lakeland’s endowment fund.
The Youngers have a strong family connection to Lakeland, tracing their family tree to the Esch family, which had members serve in various teaching and leadership roles. Additionally, the Youngers were always active in their church (he was a Lay Preacher in the Methodist church), and they were attracted to Lakeland’s ties to the United Church of Christ.
The Youngers were also drawn to supporting the Lakeland student profile: often a first generation college student from a family of modest means, often from a small Wisconsin community.
“Lakeland has been very helpful to economic groups that are really the heart of this country,” said Younger in 2003. “Lakeland is serving a segment of society that is extremely important to the strength of our nation and the health of our local communities. Our students know what work is. I believe they really value their education.
“You talk to folks who work at Lakeland – they’re just good people. They reflect Midwestern values of hard work and honesty, which are extremely important. They do their best to make Lakeland the best.”
Younger worked for four decades for two electrical manufacturing companies: Square D and Allen-Bradley. He served in various management capacities with Allen-Bradley, including vice president of international and, finally, president of the sales division.
After retiring from Allen-Bradley in 1980, Younger formed his own consulting company, W.H. Younger & Assoc., Inc., in 1981. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s in business administration from Indiana University.