By: Sallie VanArsdal
The Stanfords are both Illinois natives. Judy was born and raised in Urbana where a longtime family business was located. Bill, born in Centralia, moved around the state during childhood due to his father’s profession. Both of them chose the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for college. Bill won an R.O.T.C. scholarship that gave him a Navy commission as well as his Economics degree, with honors, in 1965. Judy majored in Education and, equally important, met Bill.
Theirs was a campus romance that led to marriage in 1965. Judy’s father offered them a large wedding or two tickets to Paris. Paris won! After a family wedding, they boarded the plane for France. They came home to Bill’s return to the University of Illinois for an M.B.A. He started to work for Eli Lilly and Company in 1967, but left to fulfill a four year Navy R.O.T.C. commitment serving as supply officer on the U.S.S. Ashland, the first L.S.D. (Landing Ship Dock) built during World War II. Bill recalls, “Just keeping the 25-year-old ship running was challenging.” Judy, meantime, taught elementary school in Illinois.
Back at Lilly in 1971, Bill was sent to Dusseldorf, Germany, as financial manager for Elizabeth Arden, a Lilly subsidiary, and their business travels began: from Dusseldorf to Vienna to Sao Paulo, Brazil, overseeing Elizabeth Arden. Judy taught at the American International Schools (AIS) in all three cities, accompanied now by their two small sons who were AIS students. “It was a perfect arrangement,” she notes. “The boys learned a lot by making friends from other countries.”
Bill was brought to Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis in 1981. Various rapid promotions led to his appointment as Vice President and Controller. During these years, both Stanfords were involved in civic organizations. They continued this participation after 1996 when Bill retired and they moved to Sarasota’s Bird Key. Bill served as Commodore of the Bird Key Yacht Club, Treasurer of the Van Wezel Foundation Board, and Chairman of the Sarasota Memorial Health Care Foundation during four of his fifteen years on the Health Care Foundation Board.
Living on Bird Key, Judy and Bill became good friends of Babs and Ernie Rice and Francie and Gordon Jones, all Plymouth Harbor residents later. It would seem that the Rice/ Jones influence was positive, as the Stanfords, although still getting settled, appear happy and contented to be here.