When Bill Werner Jr. ’68 discovered he had a gift for foreign language at St. Louis U. High, it changed the trajectory of his life. A desire to take Russian and visit the Soviet Union (now Russia) launched a lifelong journey that spanned the globe.
“There was only one high school option for Bill,” says Bill’s sister Mary Ann Werner Hill. “Our dad was a 1937 SLUH graduate, and that was the only place to go.”
Bill, a member of the St. Raphael Parish, participated in track, cross country and Scouts as a Jr. Billiken. He was also co-editor of the Dauphin Yearbook. The summer before his senior year, he traveled to the Soviet Union with classmates and their Russian teacher, Mr. Alfred Pasqualucci.
“He had amazing stories, including the Aeroflot Airplane that landed in a field instead of on a runway,” says Mary Ann. “That trip stoked his fire to learn and travel.”
Though Bill’s father and grandfather were both physicians, he had other aspirations. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a B.S., Bill earned an M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Kansas, as well as an MBA from University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Following college, he worked as a guide with the USAID Photo-USA exhibit and spent a year traveling (“gallivanting,” says Mary Ann) around the Baltic States of the Soviet Union. “He traveled with a future NATO Under Secretary and many others in government service. He made lifelong friends on the journey, and he broadened his knowledge of the Slavic countries.”
Bill—a raconteur who was fluent in several languages, including Russian—embarked on a 22-year career with FMC Corporation as the American chemical manufacturing company’s European business representative. He excelled at FMC in the U.S. and overseas; first as a representative living in Vienna and working throughout the Soviet Union and Europe, and later in Philadelphia and finishing as the company’s director in Frankfort. He finished his career representing CPHall, an industrial organic chemical company, in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Bill enjoyed retirement in Chicago for several years before passing away in 2020. He left a legacy at SLUH through a gift from his estate, which established the Dr. William A. Werner ’37 and William A. Werner ’68 Endowed Scholarship.
“Bill loved his time at SLUH,” says Mary Ann, adding that his lifelong passion for running began at SLUH. “His estate gift was a sign of his gratitude to all of the teachers and priests who gave him the foundation for success in life. Also, since he had no children, this was his way of helping a family educate a child at such an excellent school.
“Nothing stopped him. He was as comfortable in Italy or England as he was in America. He loved spending much of his life throughout the world, and it all started at SLUH.”
Like Bill, you, too, can make an estate gift that helps SLUH students lay a foundation for their future goals and dreams. Contact Linda Domeyer at (314) 269-2113 or email@example.com to learn more about the different ways you can give.