2014 Distinguished Citizen Honoree
In Support of the Pacific Skyline Council’s Scoutreach Program
Proceeds from this event will fund the Council’s 2014 Scoutreach Program which enables at-risk youth in low-income and culturally diverse areas on the Peninsula to participate in after school, weekend and summer Scouting activities. Click here to see a video about Scoutreach.
Click here to see photos and more about Bill Reller's award evening.
William E. Reller Biography
Born and raised in the Midwest, Bill joined the Cub Scouts in Chicago in 1944 and then Boy Scout Troop 899 three years later. The family moved to Lake Ozark, Missouri, and Bill joined Troop 21 earning his rank of Eagle Scout in 1951.
After graduating from Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, in 1956 with a BA in Economics, Bill joined the Army as part of his ROTC obligation and happened to travel through Palo Alto on his way to Korea. At the end of his tour of duty, Bill returned to Palo Alto and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, getting his MBA in 1960, and has remained here ever since.
After Business School, Bill started in Real Estate in Palo Alto when the real estate market was in its infancy. Bill would handle commercial real estate, residential, or any opportunities that came along. Eventually he would start acquiring property, managing and selling as well as developing both commercial and residential properties.
In 1963, Bill married Carolyn Wiedemann, a native of Burlingame and graduate of the University of Washington with degrees in Political Science and Sociology. That year they purchased their first home, a cottage on Palo Alto Ave. While raising their own family in Palo Alto, Bill and Carolyn were active volunteers and nonprofit board members: Bill with the Peninsula Open Space Trust, the Palo Alto Board of Realtors, the Palo Alto Community Foundation, and the YMCA; and Carolyn with the Junior League, the PTA, Stanford University Hospital, and the Children’s Health Council.
Carolyn was also very interested in the elderly, and with her husband, co-founded Palo Alto Commons, an assisted living facility to service the needs of the aging, which opened in 1990. Six years later, they were jointly awarded Palo Alto’s Tall Tree Award for Outstanding Citizens. Perhaps their biggest legacy, Bill and Carolyn foresaw the need for senior housing in our community. Palo Alto Commons has since been expanded to keep up with the growing population of seniors in our area and is a critical resource in our community.
Bill currently serves on the Arts Commission of the new Stanford University Hospital and is on the Council for Yosemite Conservancy. In addition to the board memberships listed above, Bill has served on the boards of numerous organizations including: The Yosemite Fund, Mid-Peninsula YMCA (recipient of the Red Triangle Award), Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri (recipient in 2013 of the 1851 Cornerstone Society award), Trees for Palo Alto, the Membership Executive Committee of the Cantor Arts Center, Museum of American Heritage, the Ecumenical Hunger Program, the Stanford Business School Alumni Association (recipient in 2010 of the John Gardner Volunteer Leadership Award), and the Stanford Business School Alumni Consulting Teams (ACT). Bill has been a member of the Palo Alto First Congregational Church for 45 years.
In 2011, Carolyn (posthumously) and Bill were honored with the Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievements award. In all, Bill and Carolyn were collectively involved with over 20 nonprofits.
Reflecting back on his Scouting days, Bill said he liked the structure that scouting provided and the fact that effort was rewarded. It was also very exciting to go camping overnight—a real adventure! Today, he is so proud that his grandson, Will, has started in Boy Scouts. Bill spends his free time traveling and getting together with his 3 children, their spouses, and 9 grandchildren as a family.