William C. Nelson, 77, of Mission Hills, Kansas, passed away on the evening of August 7, 2014. He was a loving father and husband and will be deeply missed. Bill’s great passions in life were his family, friends, and involvement in the Kansas City business and civic community. His fifty-year career in banking and asset management provided him the opportunity to build business relationships around the region and the world. More importantly, his business stature afforded him a platform to make a difference in the many community causes that he held most dear. Bill was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Curtis Clinton Nelson,...
William C. Nelson, 77, of Mission Hills, Kansas, passed away on the evening of August 7, 2014. He was a loving father and husband and will be deeply missed.
Bill’s great passions in life were his family, friends, and involvement in the Kansas City business and civic community. His fifty-year career in banking and asset management provided him the opportunity to build business relationships around the region and the world. More importantly, his business stature afforded him a platform to make a difference in the many community causes that he held most dear.
Bill was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Curtis Clinton Nelson, an FBI agent, and Mary Sloan Nelson, a homemaker and schoolteacher. Bill’s father passed away when he was twelve years old, and he spent much of his childhood caring for his younger siblings James and Penelope. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history at Yale University, funding his education entirely through scholarships and employment. He also attended the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business.
Bill’s career in Kansas City was defined by his tenure as President of Boatmen’s First National Bank of Kansas City – later NationsBank and Bank of America. Bill came to Kansas City in 1988, and he lead the bank for twelve years. Though an accomplished banker and advisor, Bill’s greatest joy in business came from working together with his colleagues, building consensus, and mentoring younger associates. After retiring from banking in 2000, Bill spent several rewarding years as chairman of George K. Baum Asset Management, providing senior advice and relationships to the firm’s clients and the team.
Prior to joining Boatmen’s, he served as Executive Director at First Republic Bank Corporation in Dallas, Texas. Previous experience at Mellon Bank included several years in London, where he was Vice President and General Manager of Mellon’s European Operations. It was also during his time in London that Bill met the love of his life, his wife Barbara, who was then working as a journalist at Business Week.
Bill was an active member of the Kansas City business community, serving as a director of DST Systems, Inc., Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City; Great Plains Energy, Inc., Midwest Research Institute and the Auto Club of Missouri. He also served as Chairman of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Development Council and Vice Chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. He also chaired the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation from 1998 – 2001.
Bill received several honors during his career. Some of the most meaningful include: Ingram's 1993 Local Hero Award; Jewish Community Relations Bureau1993 Human Relations Award; Urban League of Greater Kansas City 1994 Difference Maker Award; Minority Supplier Council 1995 CEO of the Year Award; Kansas City Globe's 1995 Bridgebuilder Award; Heart -of America Council, Boy Scouts of America 1995 Distinguished Citizen Award; the Chamber of Commerce Centurions 1997 Leadership Award; Honorary Police Commissioner, Kansas City, Mo.; and the W.F. Yates Medallion for Distinguished Civic Service from William Jewell College.
One of his great passions was early childhood education. To advance that cause, Bill co-chaired the Partnership for Children, served as both Chairman of the Early Learning Leadership Board of the Mid-America Regional Council and the Kansas Governor’s Education Policy Committee. Kansas Governor Sebelius appointed him to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund.
Bill also had a passion for the arts, and worked tirelessly to advance the cause of local arts institutions. He served as the honorary Chairman of the State Ballet of Missouri, Advisory Director of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, and was a former Chairman of the Business Partners/Kansas City Symphony. He had a special love for the Kansas City Repertory Theater, and served as its board Chairman for many years. Helping the Rep grow into a nationally recognized company was one of his greatest joys, and he was instrumental in establishing the Rep’s Copaken Stage in downtown Kansas City.
A consummate sports aficionado, Bill was an avid horseback rider and devoted Kansas City Chiefs fan who loved watching games with his sons. He served proudly as Chairman of the Committee of 101, a civic organization affiliated with the Chiefs that raises money for local organizations. In addition, he never let his sons forget that he was the fastest boy in the eighth grade.
Bill’s greatest love in life was his family and beloved wife, Barbara. They spent forty-two wonderful years together, supporting each other in every endeavor. He is survived by Barbara, his sons Christopher (Amy), Graham, and David (Angela); grandsons Oliver, Samuel and Andrew; sister Penelope and numerous extended family and friends throughout the country and abroad. He will be sorely missed by them all.
To celebrate Bill’s life, visitations are planned at DW Newcomer’s Sons Stine & McClure Chapel in Kansas City, Missouri on Monday, August 11th from 5:00 - 7:00pm and on Tuesday, August 12th from 4:00 - 7:00pm. A memorial service is planned for Wednesday, August 13th at 3:30pm at the Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. A reception will follow at The Kansas City Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to either the William C. Nelson Fund at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church (2411 East 27th St. KCMO, 64127) in support of Bill’s work to build a youth and family center in urban Kansas City or the Kansas City Repertory Theater.