Deaths Death Notices
SCHREYER, William A.
SCHREYER - William William A. Schreyer, who began his career marking stock prices on a chalkboard at a storefront office and rose to become chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, died on Saturday, January 22, 2011. During a 45-year career with Merrill Lynch, he led its transformation from US stock brokerage to diversified global investment bank. He was 83 and died at home surrounded by family. During the stock market crash of 1987, "Bill" Schreyer gained wide recognition for his decisive leadership, when he counseled investors not to panic, via nationally televised commercials, signing-off with the signature line: "At Merrill Lynch, we're still bullish on America." He was known as a visionary leader, a generous mentor and an irrepressible optimist. An active philanthropist, he gave $55 million to his alma mater, Penn State, to establish the Schreyer Honors College. Bill Schreyer was born in Williamsport, PA. where his father managed the local office of a stock brokerage acquired by Merrill Lynch. Long before the age of instantaneous electronic data transmission, he worked part time marking a storefront chalkboard with securities prices wired from New York. After graduating from Penn State University in 1948, Mr. Schreyer joined Merrill Lynch as a junior executive trainee, and was sent to Buffalo, NY as an account executive - now called financial advisor. There, he met Joan Legg, the daughter of a local banker, and in 1953 they were married. He served for two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Germany, where he developed his interest in international financial markets. In 1963 he entered management as head of the company's Trenton, NJ office and held a succession of positions in the company's retail branch office system, culminating in 1972 as regional director in the New York metropolitan area. As he moved up the management chain, he began to advocate that the company develop beyond its brokerage base and create a separate capital markets division. In 1981, he was put in charge of that division. Two decades later, in 2003, that division accounted for 50% of the company's net revenues and 70% of pretax profits. Mr. Schreyer became president of the parent company in 1982, and rose to CEO and chairman of the board in 1985. A period of substantial international investment followed. Merrill Lynch was among the first group of foreign firms admitted to membership in the Tokyo Stock Exchange (1986) and became the first U.S. investment bank to open a representative office in the People's Republic of China (1993). On the eve of his retirement, Forbes magazine gave this assessment of Mr. Schreyer's tenure as CEO: "If ever a chairman deserved well of his shareholders, Schreyer does." Mr. Schreyer served on the Penn State Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1998, including two terms as president (1993-1996). He also chaired the university's first capital campaign which ran from 1984-1990, raising over $350 million. He was a trustee and International Councilor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan public policy institute based in Washington, D.C. Mr. Schreyer also served as a trustee of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and was a consultor for the Vatican's Patrimony of the Apostolic See. In addition to his wife, Mr. Schreyer is survived by his daughter, DrueAnne Schreyer, a son-in-law, Rodney Frazier, and two grandchildren, Kelly and Charles Frazier. A private service for family members will be held in Princeton, and a Memorial Service will be planned for the spring.