William Skelton Edgerly was born on February 18, 1927, in Lewiston, Maine, son of Albion Stuart and Florence (Skelton) Edgerly. He passed away peacefully on May 24th at home in
He attended public school in Syracuse, New York, from the first to the fifth grade, when his family moved to Sudbury, Massachusetts. He attended Sudbury public schools through the 11th grade
and transferred to Mount Hermon School for Boys in Gill, Massachusetts, for his senior year. He graduated from Mount Hermon in 1944 and after graduation served for a year in the Navy.
Bill married Lois Stiles Edgerly on June 12, 1948 in Sudbury. Their marriage of seven decades was a lasting inspiration for their family and friends. Bill graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949 with a BS degree in chemical engineering and economics. In June, 1949, he took a job at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY.
He was called up for naval reserve duty in September, 1950,and served aboard the USS Macon, a heavy cruiser, in the Mediterranean until January, 1952, when he returned to civilian life and took a job at Cabot Corporation. While at Cabot he earned an MBA degree in June 1955 from the Harvard Business School.
In 1975 he left Cabot to become CEO of State Street Corporation. In the following 17 years he led the transformation of State Street from a traditional bank into a global provider of financial asset services. This set State Street on the road to producing double-digit earnings growth for 22 years in a row. He retired in December, 1992, and retained the title of Chairman Emeritus of State Street.
Bill was appreciated as an optimist by family and friends who knew him best. He whistled while he worked, whether analyzing a budget sheet at his desk or raking grass in the backyard in
Wayland. “When I think of Bill, I think about a civic leader as well as a terrific business guy,” former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said in a 2015 conversation with Bill’s son Len in the governor’s office. Gov. Baker added: “He’s just a really good listener. He can hear more than one point of view and respond in an intelligent and kind way. He’s a smart and talented guy who can see around the corner.” Bill was a founding board member of a nonprofit research organization named the Pioneer Institute, which is how he and Baker met, before Baker was elected Governor. “I just loved having him there, because he was such a voice of calm and reason and wicked smart,” Baker remembered of the early days at Pioneer. In a conversation at his home in South Boston, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn recalled Bill’s contribution to the city in the
1980s when the federal government had reduced its role in affordable housing programs. “Boston got creative,” Flynn said. “We started a remarkable public-private partnership with Bill Edgerly, and the City of Boston led the country in building affordable housing. Bill also was in the forefront of creating jobs in a summer program that got kids off the streets and helped keep Boston safe and stable. He was quite a calming influence in Boston during that period.” Bill’s civic leadership was recalled in 2000 by Steve Bailey in a Boston Globe column titled “A life well spent.”
In evaluating Boston’s business leaders for their civic involvement, Bailey wrote: “In my book, Edgerly remains, very quietly, the gold standard against which all others must be measured.”
After his retirement from State Street, Bill remained active through his foundation, supporting organizations that championed a free and strong America. He had an abiding interest in school
reform and led early efforts to create and expand charter schools. He also devoted time to writing poetry on his iPhone, addressing topics such as certainty and faith. In this poem, titled
“Transition,” he expressed his belief that he and Lois will be reunited in Heaven: You find yourself between life on earth and eternal life in heaven. One of your years could be worth as much satisfaction as seven. However long it is, you’re on your way Toward finding your love on a happy day.
William S. Edgerly was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 71 years, Lois. He is survived by his children Leonard (Darlene Determan) and Stephanie, grandchildren Sarah Foleno (Josh
Bookin), Seth Betlyon (Mary Alice Williamson), Roo Krafsig (Mike), Fran Betlyon (Elle Turk), and Jesse Betlyon (Arielle Kepler), and eleven great-grandchildren.
Visiting hours will be Friday, June 2 nd from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Brown & Hickey Funeral Home, 36 Trapelo Road Belmont.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ocean Park Association in Ocean Park, Maine, using this link: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/OceanParkAssociation/inmemoriam.html