About Robert L. Willett


Born in the Illinois Central Hospital in Chicago on October 28, 1926, I was raised by two wonderful

people, Katherine and Robert Willett, who gave me a great boyhood in the wonderful world of the

northern Chicago suburbs, Glencoe and Winnetka. Much of my younger days was spent in Scouting and I, with three great friends, became Eagle Scouts in 1942, and then brought into the folds of the Order of the Arrow. High school was a blur; my only claim to fame was being a freshman when Charlton Heston was a senior and Roy Fitzgerald (Rock Hudson) was a sophomore.

But that life ended when I enlisted in the US Army Air Corps Air Cadet program in December 1943. My

service includes 6 months at Knox College in the ASTRP, a transfer to the infantry in early 1945, OCS at

Fort Benning as we trained for the invasion of Japan, and it was there the war ended. Ten months in a

Chemical Warfare depot in southern France ended my WWII contribution, but my military career was

not at an end. After three years at Knox I received a BA the same day I was recalled to active duty. Ten

months in Korea with IX Corps Artillery ended my meteoric rise to obscurity as a corporal.

Cousin Jim Hinchliff helped me get a job in 1952 as an Assistant Illinois State Bank Examiner, and I progressed to Assistant National Bank Examiner in the 7th Federal Reserve District in Elkhart, Indiana.  I began to get serious about a career when I joined Grand Haven State Bank in

Michigan where I stayed for 13 years, rising from Assistant Cashier to Vice President. But more

importantly, I found my life companion in Donna Jean Bahr and we were married in August 1957. Leslie was born the following September, Tom the next October and Barb followed in January 1962. I left Grand Haven to become Executive Vice President of Peoples State Bank in Alpena, still in Michigan,

where I then accepted the CEO job at First National Bank in Howell. After four years there I came to First National Bank of Merritt Island, Florida, eventually serving as their President, but the bank was sold in 1984.  I then had the opportunity to become the first President of Marine Merchant Bank in Saipan in the Trust Territory of the Pacific, a wonderful year in paradise!   We returned to Florida in 1986 and I later joined FDIC and the Resolution Trust Corporation in resolving various S & Ls during that crisis period. A really revealing experience to see some of the seamier side of financial institutions. Finally, I retired in December 1993 to a very uncertain retirement with little planning, some financial insecurity and a sudden change in the home situation, me being home now 24/7.

Retirement gave me some anxious moments until… (see Wandering the World Doing Good for the rest of the story...)