2013 Distinguished Citizen Honoree
Click here to see more about Bill Floyd's award evening.
William “Bill” S. Floyd, Jr, born January 23, 1935, is a fourth generation San Franciscan. He joined San Francisco’s Forest Hill neighborhood troop, Troop 88, and earned his Eagle Scout Award on Dec 5, 1949. Selected to the Order of the Arrow, he was recognized with the Vigil Honor for his distinguished contributions. In 1950, Bill attended the National Jamboree at Valley Forge as Senior Patrol Leader of the San Francisco troop and fondly recalls seeing President Harry Truman and General Dwight Eisenhower.
Bill has spent most of his life in the Bay Area. He is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley School of Engineering, 1956. At Cal, he was co-captain of the swim team, and spoke at graduation in Memorial Stadium. After earning his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1958, he returned to the Bay Area, and began working in Silicon Valley. Bill married Mary in 1960. From 1976 – 1991, he worked as a vice president/ CFO and director at Sierra Chemical, which made Osmocote® controlled release fertilizer for greenhouses and nurseries. He sold the company in 1989.
Bill Floyd began volunteering as a young Boy Scout and never forgot the importance of helping his community. Looking back on the volunteer work during his life, Bill said he has intentionally focused his time to help with primarily local and statewide efforts. “I have devoted my efforts to the organizations that benefit a lot of people,” he said. “While I think the worldwide efforts people are engaged in are terrific, there’s an awful lot that needs to be done here as well.”
His volunteering efforts fall into two general areas: community and education. He first experienced the YMCA during the summer of 1947, when he attended his first summer camp on Catalina Island. Bill and his family have all participated in YMCA activities with fond memories. From 1992-1997, he held numerous positions on the YMCA Board of Directors, including secretary, vice chair, chair-elect and chairman. He helped raise $2.2 million to renovate the Sequoia YMCA in Redwood City and received the 2002 Red Triangle Award from the Mid-Peninsula YMCA.
Locally, he also served on the board of the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto for nine years (one year as Chair), receiving the Children’s Health Council Esther B. Clark Award in 2005, and helped double the organization’s endowment from $15 million to $30 million acting as the 50th Anniversary Endowment Chair. He served 20 years on the Lytton Gardens and Community Housing, Inc. Boards, six years as Chair of each. Bill served on the Palo Alto Avenidas Board for six years (one year as Chair) where he was honored with the 2012 Avenidas Lifetime of Achievement Award, recognized as one of six local seniors who have made the world a better place through community service, innovation, and philanthropy.
Statewide, he has served on the Yosemite Conservancy Board since 1993 (four as chair) and helped complete a $13.5 million project to renovate the area at the base of Yosemite Falls. “My late wife, Mary and I had talked about it just before her death,” he said. “I pursued the project, and it was 10 years from planning to ribbon cutting -- that was 1995 to 2005.”
In recognition of his service to many charitable organizations, he received the 2008 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award from the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Bill’s second focus is education and he has a long legacy of support for his college, UC Berkeley, in many areas. He has endowed two chairs in engineering, one in his name and, more recently, one in his parents’ name, who were also graduates of UC Berkeley. He has served on the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees since 1994. As general chair of the Berkeley Engineering Fund since ‘96, he raised money for the engineering portion of Berkeley’s New Century Capital Campaign. The campaign, which ended in 2001, surpassed its $1.1 billion goal, reaching $1.44 billion. Bill also received UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Oak Meritorious Award in 1999, given to those alumni and friends who have excelled in a leadership position for one or more fundraising programs over a period of time. Currently, he is President of Friends of Cal, an advocacy organization for University of California, Berkeley created in response to declining state funding for the University. “Each campus needs to capitalize on its individual strengths so it can thrive,” said Bill. “We need more decisions made at the campus level. There are a lot of decisions made by the office of the president that would be better made by the chancellor’s office.”
Bill is not a short-term supporter of any organization. His board service spans multiple years, sometimes decades. The sum total of Bill’s charitable experience is 112 years of board service and 35 of these as Board Chair.
Extremely modest about his community service, he freely gives of his time and treasure for no personal benefit, but rather for others to have the opportunity to prosper. In a 2002 Palo Alto Weekly article, Bill explained his philanthropic philosophy: “To me the combination of time and financial resources is important. I personally receive much more satisfaction from making financial contributions whenever I also volunteer a substantial amount of time to the recipient organization.”
On a personal note, Bill has since remarried and, between Bill and his second wife, Cynthia, they have six children and 16 grandchildren. An avid hiker, Bill has made it to Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Whitney, and the most ambitious, Everest Base Camp. Staying active is what keeps Bill looking so young: he and Cynthia have visited over 100 countries, he still swims 1 mile/day, and this winter he skied 23 days.
Thank you for joining the Pacific Skyline Council in honoring Bill Floyd as the Pacific Skyline Council’s 2013 Distinguished Citizen.