ST. PETERSBURG — William "Bill" Wallace, one of the partners of Wallace, Welch and Willingham’s Insurance, will be remembered for his work ethic and commitment to the community. Mr. Wallace, 90, died Saturday.
Mr. Wallace, born in St. Petersburg, joined his father’s insurance firm in 1950 before leaving for the military. When he returned he rejoined the firm and when he later became the successor of the company, merged firms in 1964 with John Welch, the son of a competing insurance firm he had been friends with.
Welch said Mr. Wallace was a "one-of-a-kind" guy and longtime friend.
"We built it from a small enterprise to a respectable business," Welch said. "It’s doing very well still."
In 1984, the company became Wallace, Welch and Willingham, after acquiring Stambaugh and Associates and merging Bennett, Wallace, Welch and Green with Weyman, Willingham and Co.
"As we worked for years as competitors, I realized that he and his good reputation was who I wanted to work beside, not compete against him," Robert Willingham said. "Bill Wallace was one of the finest men I ever knew. His character was impeccable. His intelligence and his capabilities were above most others with whom I’ve been associated, but above all these wonderful talents, he was kind and he was a gentleman."
Willingham said Mr. Wallace took his involvement in the community seriously. He was a member of the Suncoasters, Kiwanis Club, Yacht Club and Dragon Club. He was also a former president of the Florida Orchestra.
"We both came from backgrounds where our parents made giving back to your community a priority," Willingham said.
In 1953, Mr. Wallace married Sally Wallace, a former St. Petersburg City Council member. The couple had three children.
"Bill Wallace will be missed by all who knew him," Willingham said.
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