William C. Bartholomay "Bill" Chicago, IL died March 25, 2020 in New York City following a brief illness. Bill was an international icon in the insurance industry, a trailblazer in major league baseball, a respected civic leader, a loyal philanthropist, and a treasured patriarch.
He was born in Evanston, IL on August 11, 1928 and raised in nearby Winnetka, spending summers at the family home in Lake Geneva, WI. He attended high school at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka. He spent his freshman year at Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH) and went on to receive his BA from Lake Forest College in 1955. During this time, he also served in the United States Navy Reserve.
Bill launched a chain of toy stores called the Surprise Shop, and a candy company, Mrs. Stevens Candy Company, which later became Candygram. He joined the family insurance brokerage firm, Bartholomay and Clarkson (Chicago, IL), beginning a 60-plus year career in the insurance industry.
He served as a principal in Alexander & Alexander, formed Olson & Bartholomay Insurance Brokerage, was Senior Vice President and Vice Chairman of Frank B. Hall & Co. and President of Near North National Group.
Bill was also Vice Chairman of Willis Towers Watson, Vice Chairman of Willis Group Holdings, and a member of the Willis Group's Executive Committee. At the time of his death, Bill was the Legacy Vice Chairman and Senior Consultant of Willis Group Holdings.
While insurance was Bill's profession, baseball was his absolute passion, ignited at the age of four when he went to his first Major League ballgame with his parents and Lake Geneva neighbor, Chicago Cubs owner Phil Wrigley.
In 1961, Bill became a director and shareholder of the Chicago White Sox. The following year, Bill and his partners in a Chicago-based group, purchased the Milwaukee Braves. In 1966, amidst great controversy, they moved the Braves to Atlanta, the first major league sport of any kind to locate in the Southeastern United States.
With the Atlanta Braves, Bill served as Chairman of the Board and President and was Chairman Emeritus at the time of his death.
In 1976 after he and his partners sold the Braves to Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) founder Ted Turner, Bill remained with the team as Chairman and joined TBS Board of Directors as Vice Chairman. Bill also held many positions in the operations of Major League Baseball including membership on its Executive Council, Ownership Committee (Chairman), Finance Committee (Chairman), Opportunity Committee, and Players Pension Committee.
While Bill spent a great deal of time in New York, Palm Beach and Atlanta, Chicago was his home. He served as a director, trustee or member of many civic, business and educational institutions including: Commissioner and President of the Chicago Park District (serving under four mayors over 22 years), Commissioner of the Chicago Public Building Commission, Trustee of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Board of Directors of the Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, Lincoln Park Zoo and Lake Forest College.
He was preceded in death by his father Henry C. Bartholomay, his mother Virginia (née Graves), his older brother Henry Bartholomay III and grandson Trey Duffy. Bill is survived by his long-time companion, Bethine S. Whitney; his sister-in-law, Judy Bartholomay; his children, Ginny Bartholomay (Gary Butterfield); William T. Bartholomay (Cathy); Jamie B. Niemie (Russ); Betsy B. Benoit (Jim); Sally B. Downey (Tim); and Karen L. Baldwin; as well as 14 grandchildren and 13 great- grandchildren.more » « less