William P. Myers

William P. Myers

CHAMPAIGN – William Patrick "Bill" Myers, 86, of Champaign died at 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 30, 2016) at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Bill Myers was born on July 27, 1930, in Omaha, Neb., to Arthur and Esther Myers. He had a brother, George, and three sisters, Patsy, Nancy and Maureen. They moved to Chicago in the mid-1930s, and Bill helped support his family by shining shoes, selling newspapers and pedaling a bicycle ice cream cart.

During his free time, he enjoyed swimming and playing baseball and "street football." After his mother died in 1942, Bill and his siblings went to live in Angel Guardian Orphanage. Bill attended school there until 1946 and then lived with his Aunt Ruth and Uncle Fred Rueckhardt while attending Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago and Iowa State Teacher's College, now known as Northern Iowa University.

In 1952, Bill enlisted in the Army and served as a mess sergeant and grill cook at Fort Leonard Wood Officer's Club.

From 1954 to 1956, Bill attended the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he earned a bachelor's degree in restaurant management. Later, he worked in management positions with Stouffer's Restaurant Corporation in Chicago and New York from 1956 to 1959 and served as associate director of housing at the UI from 1959 to 1966 and food service manager of residence halls at Stanford University from 1966 to 1972.

In 1966, prior to accepting the job at Stanford University, Bill and two other men formed Franchise Management Systems, an Arby's Restaurant franchise, based in Champaign. As founder, owner and president of FMS, Bill was one of the original Arby's franchisees. Over the years, the business expanded to include two Champaign-area restaurants, Abigail's and Country Inn, as well as 16 Arby's, three G.D. Ritzy's, and three Daddy-O's Restaurants in Champaign-Urbana, Danville, Bradley, Bourbonnais, Peoria and Moline, Ill., and Davenport, Bettendorf and Muscatine, Iowa.

Bill served the Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa area as a businessman, mentor and philanthropist until his semi-retirement in 2011 when he became chairman of the board at FMS. After his full retirement in 2015, Bill continued his philanthropic activities through the William P. Myers Foundation.

Because he lived in a children's home as a youth, Bill understood the philosophy of "giving a hand up, not a hand out." In 1981, he established the William P. Myers Education Fund to assist Cunningham Children's Home youths with education and job training beyond the high school level. Bill also supported other Cunningham projects, such as participating in the annual Kendall Gill Golf Outing, volunteering for and attending Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations, supporting music and recreational programs, and making a major gift commitment to their $15 million Lighting the Way Capital Campaign.

Furthermore, Bill gave generously of time and money to a variety of charities. He provided food, funding and equipment for Special Olympics; served as a mentor, counselor and adviser at L.W.'s Place, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Champaign; donated time as a counselor and community advocate for Family Life Skills Learning Center, a faith-based agency that teaches individuals how to stop the cycle of abuse and build a healthy home; and provided food, money and monthly volunteer staffing for Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in Champaign.

Additional practical ways to help others help themselves included providing educational and job training programs at FMS, which hired individuals with developmental disabilities and worked directly with high school students in School-to-Work programs, and granting food service scholarships at the UI, Northern Iowa University, Parkland Community College and Danville Area Community College through the William P. Myers Foundation, established in 2001.

Bill is survived by his wife, Adele; two children, Nathalie Pearson and Mark (Renee) Myers; four stepchildren, Elizabeth (Andy) Varner, Jane (Trent) England, Mike (Kari) Pankey and Tim Pankey; and six grandchildren, Jessica Pearson, Kathleen Varner, Michael Varner, Grace Pankey, Kate Pankey and Joe Pankey.

Bill is remembered as a loving husband, a kind and generous father, a fun and supportive grandfather, a wise mentor, a trusted friend and a man who deeply loved the Lord Jesus.

If one prayer sums up Bill's life, it is this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Funeral arrangements are being made by Morgan Memorial Home of Savoy. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive West, Savoy.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church of Champaign at Savoy. Inurnment will be private at Roselawn Cemetery, Champaign.

Online condolences may be left at www.morganmemorialhome.com.

Memorials should be directed to the First Baptist Church of Champaign in Savoy, Operation Christmas Child. Visit http://www.fbc-cs.org/occ/ for a link for memorials.

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