Presidential Portrait: Remembering Bob Will

Modern bank customers and employees speak fondly of a man who began life with journalistic aspirations but who instead became a community banker.

Robert Burson Will, Jr. was born December 31, 1929 to Robert Buskirk and Helen Burson Will. He was a McArthur native and 1947 graduate of McArthur High School. Bob graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Miami University of Oxford in 1951 where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. He served the United States Navy from 1952 through 1954 when he went to work for the bank, starting out as a Teller.

Bob WillRobert Jr., known better as Bob or Bobby, started as a bank employee in 1954 and became a Vice President in 1963. This quiet career beginning led to great things as he went on to serve as bank President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Under his leadership, the bank grew from offices in McArthur and Wilkesville to thirteen banking centers in six Ohio counties.

Bob was named President on June 6, 1978 after J.G. Will stepped down to become Chairman of the Bank Board. Bob would later follow in J.G.’s footsteps to serve as President of the Bank Board as well as President and CEO of Community Bancshares, Inc.

He worked with J.G. to expand the bank into Wilkesville and was instrumental in the creation of Community Bancshares, Inc. This holding company positioned the bank to purchase other banks. Under his leadership, the bank expanded into Fairfield, Ross and Hocking counties, growing to thirteen offices at the time of his death.

Bob supported anything that might improve the banking experience for the customer. He was a driving force behind the creation of The Depot Drive-Thru, the bank’s embrace of the ATM and the new, exciting ways that computers could make banking better. He is said to never use a computer but was excited to introduce computers into the bank.

He was also known to have a knack for understanding how to work with available resources and finding ways to grow. Bob had a flair for the written word, typing memos and essays on the typewriter in his office and leaving behind a trove of writings that remain relevant to young bankers today. With a genuine love for marketing and a flair for the imaginative, Bob encouraged unique campaigns that kept the customers talking.

Like all who held this post before him, Bob worked for the betterment of Vinton County seeking ways to improve local schools, recreation and the economy. He was involved in everything from school facilities improvement to the creation of the Vinton County Airport.

Bob and his wife Ruth Dunlap Will had five children: Emily, Kathleen, Laura, Margaret and Thomas. Some of his children and grandchildren continue the family legacy today, including Tom, who today serves as CBI Chairman.

Bob was a member of the Ohio Forestry Association and served on the University of Rio Grande Board of Directors. He graduated from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. He was a member of Delta Lodge #207 F. & A.M., Scottish Rite Valley of Columbus, was a 33rd Degree Mason, a member of McArthur Chapter #102 Royal Arch Masons, Trowel Council #71 Royal and Select Masons and Jackson Commandery #53 Knights Templar. A lifelong member of Trinity Episcopal Church in McArthur, he enjoyed hours spent with his horses, hunting dogs and family picnics at his cabin.

Bob died November 28, 2007 at the age of 77.

 

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