William E. LeMay 1948
Posted Dec 02, 2016
Otterbein University is mourning the passing of William E. “Bill” LeMay on Nov. 30, 2016. He was 92. He was an alumnus, emeritus trustee and beloved friend of Otterbein and many of its alumni.
He exemplified service, commitment and transformative philanthropic leadership.
“Bill LeMay has been a treasured member of the Otterbein community for many years,” said President Kathy Krendl. “We are grateful for his thoughtful leadership and generous philanthropy that has guided and shaped Otterbein over decades. His impact on Otterbein will never be forgotten.”
Born on June 5, 1924, Bill received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Otterbein College in 1948, a master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1949, and an honorary doctor of science degree from Otterbein in 1973.
Bill served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-1946 and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He was a B-17 bomber navigator stationed in England, where he flew missions over Germany. After the war, he enrolled at Otterbein at the urging of his wife, Helen Hilt LeMay, who graduated from the university in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry.
During his career, Bill received more than two dozen patents in application, equipment and formulation of vinyl technology. He established six companies, including co-founding Waytek Corporation, where he was chairman of the board until his retirement. His work was integral to the development of commonly used medical products, including blood storage and disposable latex gloves.
Bill was an avid supporter of his alma mater and a member of the Otterbein Board of Trustees from 1971 to 2007, serving on many committees and as chairman of the board. In May 2007, the Board granted him emeritus status.
The LeMays’ generosity spans nearly 60 years and can be traced to every Otterbein campaign that has taken place during their lifetime. That philanthropic leadership culminated with Bill’s service as chair for the Campaign for Otterbein, the first major comprehensive campaign in Otterbein’s history that raised more than $30 million dollars.
Bill once said, “I feel the guidance and inspiration received from my professors at Otterbein laid the foundation for whatever success I have had. They taught me a very basic philosophy that has been mine these years. Be honest. Search for the truth. And be a self-starter. Do not look for the easy way out. The easiest course may be the least desirable.”
A consummate alumnus, Bill recently expressed to Becky Smith, executive director for alumni relations, his excitement for the future of Otterbein and specifically the launch of the new STEAM innovation center initiative, The Point at Otterbein University.
Both Bill and Helen served on the committees for their 50th reunion and the Junebug Jamboree, an annual event at their home, and attended several Cardinal Migrations, donor recognition events and alumni weekends.
For his services and professional success, Bill received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997 and Distinguished Service to Otterbein Award in 1983.
Bill and Helen received The Mary B. Thomas Award from Otterbein University’s Alumni Association in 2014. The Mary B. Thomas Award for Commitment to Otterbein was established by President Kathy A. Krendl and the University’s Board of Trustees to help recognize the remarkable commitment of Otterbein investors to and for the University. Recipients of the Mary B. Thomas Award are recognized for their philanthropic leadership, service and commitment to advance Otterbein’s mission.
The LeMays also have made a difference in their hometown of Waynesville, Ohio. They spearheaded the effort to build Waynesville’s new Bicentennial Park, helped to establish an endowment for the Miami Cemetery and a countywide community fund, and were instrumental in raising funds to establish the Stubbs Memorial Health Center.
Through Bill’s leadership, the Greater Wayne Township Improvement Corporation was established to help to address the medical needs of the community. He was an active member of the Waynesville Rotary Club, served as president of the trustees for the Oakwood United Methodist Church and served as a trustee of the City Mission of Dayton. He was named Citizen of the Year by the city of Waynesville in 1997.
He is survived by his wife, Helen, and children, Connie and Bonnie.
A future memorial service will be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to the Michael-LeMay Scholarship at Otterbein University.
You can view a video interview with Bill and Helen at https://www.otterbein.edu/stand/who-isgiving/mary-b-thomas-award/lemay.aspx.