Willis Irl Else
Willis Irl Else passed away in Akron, Ohio, on September 21, 2013, after a brief illness.
He was born in Fairbury, Nebraska, on December 24, 1931, son of Irl Roy Else and Helen Gertrude Lynch Else, and graduated from Fairbury High School in 1949. He received a B.S. (Physics) from Northwestern University
in 1953, where he was a member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity, and a M.S. (Economics) from the University of Illinois
in 1958 after serving in the U.S. Army
from 1953-56 as an instructor in its Nike Anti-Aircraft School, Fort Bliss, Texas. He also attended the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago.
In September, 1958, he joined the management training program at The First National Bank of Chicago. During his years at this bank he headed the Economics faculty at the American Institute of Banking in Chicago. In 1961, he married Marion Essie Eggers whom he had met at the University of Illinois, and they had three children born in Arlington Heights, Illinois: Sharon Lee (1964- ), John Frazer (1965- ), and Robert Irl (1967- ). Mr. Else left First Chicago as Assistant Vice President in charge of the Financial Services Division in 1969 to join Citibank in New York City as Vice President of Management Information Systems. During this time, he and his family resided in Chappaqua, New York. After completing several other assignments at Citibank (including 18 months when he was lent to the National Urban League to set up its first automated management information systems which, in turn, led to receipt of the National Urban League Service Award for 1974). Mr. Else left this institution upon being named President and CEO of Akron (Ohio) National Bank beginning in January, 1977. His wife, Marion, and three children moved to Akron the next month. Two and a half years later, Akron National was merged with other BancOhio banks to form BancOhio National Bank headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. In 1981, he became a Director of its parent corporation, BancOhio Corporation, and was named Executive Vice President of BancOhio National Bank whereupon he and his family moved to Upper Arlington, Ohio. He served in these positions until after BancOhio was acquired by National City Corporation in 1984. National City named him head of bank Operations in 1985 when he began working in Cleveland. This led to moving his residence to Hudson, Ohio, in1987 where he resided until his death. He retired from National City in 1993.
Mr. Else is survived by his wife, Marion; daughter, Sharon, widow of William Lee Ware, and their children, Cole William and Elizabeth Else Ware of Stow, Ohio; son, John and his wife, Dana Gamer Else, and their daughter, Hailey Nicole Else of Chesapeake, Virginia; and son, Robert of Chicago, Illinois. He is also survived by one brother, Wilbert Harold Else of Georgetown, Texas; and many nieces and nephews.
Mr. Else was active in numerous organizations. In addition to those mentioned, previously, he was a member of the Bank Marketing Association where he graduated from its School of Financial Public Relations in 1962 and later served as Chairman of that school now known the School of Bank Marketing in 1971-72, member of the Board of Trustees of Western Reserve Academy from 1981-98 and its Treasurer from 1987-98, Treasurer of the Ohio Synod of the Lutheran Church in America (now Evangelical Lutheran Church of America-ELCA) from 1983-87, Chairman of the Franklin County (Ohio) Chapter of the American Cancer Society during 1983-85, member of the American Bankers Association for many years where he chaired its Routing Number Administration Board in 1991-93, member of the Board of Trustees of Capital University from 1991-94, member of the Board of Pensions of the ELCA in 1996-2002, and a member of the board for the Fund for Leaders in Mission of the ELCA from 2000-04. He was, from 1996 until 2009, a director of The Private Trust Company, N.A., Cleveland. He had been on the board of the Hudson Summit Players, now Actors' Summit, since 2009.
Mr. Else's principal hobby was genealogy which led to teaching and leadership in several societies, principally the Hudson Genealogical Study Group chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society for which he served as president in 1992-93 and the Western Reserve Historical Society Genealogical Committee from 1987, serving as it's president until his demise. He also lectured frequently on genealogical topics and was the author of numerous journal articles as well as The Complete Soundex Guide (Closson Press, 2002). This book revealed for the first time the fact that the National Archives (NARA) had been publishing, for at least 40 years, an incomplete set of Soundex rules-rules frequently used by genealogists to find ancestors in the U.S. Census and Immigration and Naturalization Service records which, in turn, explained why some genealogists could not find their ancestors in these records. Indeed, this revelation and another which he elected not to disclose until now were probably Mr. Else's most significant lifetime contributions.
This second revelation involves his discovery in 1955 that the U.S. Army's celebrated Nike I anti-aircraft system used to defend U.S. cities from air attack generally prevented a second missile from being fired at enemy aircraft in case the first missile missed its target. This was contrary to the government's original specifications which called for the missile system to offer at least two opportunities to knock down incoming enemy aircraft. As a result of his findings, which were quickly classified top secret, the Nike I anti-aircraft system was soon replaced by the Nike Hercules anti-aircraft system which did not have the one-missile limitation.
The service of remembrance will be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 50 N. Prospect St., Akron, Ohio, 11 a.m. THURSDAY, with Rev. David Nevergall officiating, where friends may call one hour prior to the service. Burial was made by the Billow Funeral Homes shortly after death in Markillie Cemetery, Hudson, as previously requested by the decedent. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church or to the Else Family Fund of the Akron Community Foundation.
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