Have you ever met someone that you admired from the first time that you encountered them? That would be the case with my first meeting of my friend, Bill Vanmetre! I was the assistant superintendent of Building Service at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and I was working late on the third shift to tour the buildings on that shift and meet the staff in each.
Ken, the third shift foreman, was accompanying me though Morris Library when he introduced me to Bill Vanmetre. I was immediately struck with Bill’s collegiality and wit! When he spoke he exhibited a keen mind and a through understanding of the university and his mission in it.
Bill had a genuineness about him and I liked him and thought that he should be a candidate for promotion in the future. He had a concern about people that impressed me and was very much along the lines of what I thought supervision and management should be about!
Bill V. had grown-up in Carbondale and he understood the culture of SIUC in a manner that few others did. He had known former SIU President, Delete Morris!
When times became rough at Building Services and a change in leadership was to soon occur in our department…Bill encouraged me that I was up to the challenge and that he had told the director of Plant and Service Operations that I was the right person for the job.
During my years as superintendent of Building Services, Bill was my sounding board for many difficult problems and dilemmas that I encountered.
Bill was dedicated to former SIUC chancellor, Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger! No one was closer by my side than he…when the chancellor was unjustly terminated. Bill was there for Jo Ann with encouraging words and support…and she loved him for his friendship and dedication!
When a HOPE Dinner, which was a support group for the fallen chancellor, was being held a Lick Creek Restaurant and I did not have the funds for the tickets, which were $100.00 per person…Bill bought Mary Jane and my ticket because he wanted us to attend.
During his many years on campus…Bill V. was a leader that loved people…and without fanfare or acclaim….quietly helped countless members of the campus community.
For several years Bill V. would purchase an ornate flower arrangement for President Poshard and his lovely wife, Jo, for their holiday table…when they hosted the Board of Trustees of the University. Bill insisted on placing my name alongside his on the card….although I never contributed a dime.
Bill V. not only never sought praise for his many contributions to the betterment of others on campus…but he insisted that I not reveal his good works, either!
Bill V. is such a kind professional that if he disagreed with you…..you would have to ponder for some time a to whether or not he had indicated a differing of opinion?
Bill V., who was one of my closest advisors, and my continuing friend…was responsible for much of the success of Building Services during my years there.