Obituary: Leo Stolzer
LEO “Bill” WILLIAM STOLZER October 14, 1934 – June 20, 2020
It is with the fondest memories of his razor wit, quick-paced humor, exquisite tailoring, business insight and constant attention to detail-particularly in friends, wine, skiing and architecture, we share the passing of Leo William “Bill” Stolzer on Saturday, June 20, 2020.
Bill was born October 14, 1934, in Kansas City, Missouri to Leo Joseph and Lucille Hopp Stolzer. The son of a banker, Bill attended Bishop Hogan High School and graduated from Kansas State University in 1957. At KSU, Bill was a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and an honor cadet in the Air Force ROTC program. During his junior year at KSU, he met Kappa Kappa Gamma member Eleanor Griffith of Manhattan while at Kite’s, a favorite college hangout.
Bill and Eleanor were married on August 17, 1957, in Eleanor’s parish church, Seven Dolors, just two blocks from her home. (Bill subsequently walked both of his daughters down the same aisle.) Upon his officer commissioning, Bill became a B-66 Tactical Navigator/Bombardier stationed in England, where he and Eleanor made their home. Bill often commented his Bomber Squadron’s destination was a one-way mission to the Soviet Union without enough fuel to return.
Following the Air Force, Bill followed his father and father-in-law into community banking joining T.J. Griffith at Union National Bank of Manhattan, Kansas. Bill eventually succeeded T.J. Griffith and ran Union National Bank for over 50 years in various capacities including President, CEO and Chairman. In 1969, Bill was instrumental in overseeing the construction of Union National Bank’s modern six-story office building near downtown Manhattan.
Bill and Eleanor moved into Eleanor’s family home just blocks from the new office building, which enabled him to frequently walk to work. Bill and Eleanor immaculately preserved the home in the heart of the Manhattan historic district. The home’s patio and gardens hosted many memorable Kansas State University, Bankers Association and family functions.
Bill was active in the Kansas Bankers and American Bankers Associations, was a member of the Board of Directors of the ABA and served as National Treasurer in 1987. In addition to other business endeavors, Bill served over 50 years as Chairman of the 100-year-old Griffith Lumber Company.
Bill and Eleanor were active supporters of the Manhattan Community and Kansas State University. Bill served on the Kansas State University Foundation Board of Trustees since 1968 and the KSU College of Business Advisory Board and was the recipient of KSU’s College of Business Administration’s Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award and the KSU Advancement Award. They were strong supporters of the Athletic Department, Beach Museum of Art and the Alumni Association. Both the Stolzer Family Gallery in the Beach Museum of Art and the Alumni Center Stairway are part of their KSU legacy. The Stolzer House at Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community is part of their Manhattan legacy.
Bill and Eleanor loved the Vail Valley where they were strong contributors to the US Skiing Foundation, Vail Valley Foundation, Bravo and the Vail Valley Medical Center. Billy, as he was called by his grandsons, shared his love of skiing with his family and friends.
Always up for adventure, Bill and Eleanor traveled extensively creating fond memories and a network of family and friends throughout Kansas, Washington, DC, Vail and Palm Desert. Wherever they were, they were gracious hosts. Many happy memories were made at Colbert Hills, Eagle Springs, The Reserve and The River Club.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanor. He is survived by his daughters, Ellen Bolen (Dan) of Mission Hills, Mary Kevin Giller (Tom) of Manhattan; five grandsons, Patrick and William Bolen, Matt (Jodie), Kurt (Chelsie) and TJ Giller; and a great-grandson, Graham Giller. He is also survived by his sister, Linda (Max) Williams and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Bill’s honor to Kansas State University Foundation College of Business, Meadowlark Hills Good Samaritan Fund, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, or the Vail Valley Foundation. Donations can be sent in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.