A Personal Home Run: Bill High

May 1, 2014

Bill High (shown in 1998)

Bill High points to his Ohio State transcript and the low grades he earned his freshman year. He admits that his social life and role as a Buckeye baseball player held most of his focus.

After spring quarter ended in 1967, Bill took a summer job at an insurance company, where he met his future wife, Carolyn. While there, his draft notice arrived and he chose to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. They kept in touch, and Carolyn returned to college at Miami University.

The couple married in April 1970, just shy of her graduation. Soon after, Bill received his orders for Vietnam, requiring them to spend the next 13 months apart. “I often joke that Carolyn referred to that as the best year of our marriage,” he said of their 30 years together.

Bill wanted to continue his college education, yet he faced a challenge when returning to Ohio State on the GI Bill during the fall of 1971. “Dean Georges read me the riot act and assured me he’d kick me out if I didn’t do better,” said Bill of Robert Georges, then an associate dean of the business school. “He scared me, but I appreciated it.”

Going forward, Bill made the most of every opportunity, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1974 and an MBA in 1976, both from Ohio State. He worked his way up the corporate ladder in banking, holding executive positions at Bank One and serving as CEO at West Star Banks of Colorado and Florida-based Indian River National Bank.

At West Star, he was a personal banker for President Gerald Ford, who spoke at Bill’s Ohio State commencement in 1974. Bill retired in 2002 as regional president of Bank One and now serves on the board of directors of Lauren International in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and First Bexley Bank of Columbus.

Carolyn passed away in 2000 from cancer, and in her honor, Bill established scholarships at her alma mater and Kent State.

At Ohio State, he has a charitable remainder trust that will provide scholarships to the baseball team and Fisher College of Business. He contributes annually to the trust and is recognized as a President’s Club and Neil Legacy Society donor. 

Bill now lives with his wife, Ronnie, in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, with residences in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and Columbus. They share a love of scuba diving, skydiving and the Buckeyes—and especially Ronnie’s daughter, Jackie, whom Bill adopted in 2005 when she was 21.

“Jackie and I flew from Orlando to Columbus to see a football game. It was at Ohio Stadium where I asked her if I could be her dad,” he said. “Even though we lost the game, it was a special day.”

Bill is grateful for his success in banking and the business world. "It's the direct result of my education at Ohio State and the leadership learned in the U.S. Marine Corps," he said.   

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