Bill Floyd | April 27, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - April 27, 2012

Bill Floyd

Retired executive has always found satisfaction in charity

by Eric Van Susteren

Bill Floyd first did work to benefit his community as an Eagle Scout in the late '40s. Today, even as a major fundraiser and donor, he still enjoys putting in the hours to help people.

"I make gifts to a wide range of organizations, but I only spend time on some," he said. "I get more satisfaction working with those I devote my time to as well as my money."

Floyd has devoted himself to more than a few organizations and causes. A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, he has been a Berkeley Foundation Trustee since 1994 and has chaired the Berkeley Engineering Fund Board since 1996. Locally, he's served Lytton Gardens, Community Housing Inc., YMCA of the Mid-Peninsula, the Children's Health Council and Avenidas. He's also served on the Yosemite Conservancy Board since 1993.

Floyd has received recognition for his efforts, particularly in the area of fundraising.

In 1997, he was named the Silicon Valley Distinguished Fundraiser for helping raise $2.2 million to renovate the Sequoia YMCA in Redwood City. Floyd grew up using the YMCA, and he sent his children to its programs, as well. He said he supports the organization's mission.

"It's a lot more than a place to lift weights and exercise," he said. "There are youth leagues, parenting classes, youth camps and swim lessons and a lot more."

While serving on the board of the Children's Health Council in Palo Alto, Floyd helped double the organization's endowment from $15 million to $30 million. As general chair of the Berkeley Engineering Fund, he raised money for the engineering portion of Berkeley's New Century Capital Campaign. The campaign, which ended in 2001, surpassed its $1.1 billion goal, reaching $1.44 billion.

He also helped complete a $13.5 million project to renovate the area at the base of Yosemite Falls.

"My late wife and I had talked about it about the time she died," he said. "I pursued the project, and it was 10 years from planning to ribbon cutting — that was 1995 to 2005."

He has since remarried, and he and his second wife have six children and 16 grandchildren between the two of them.

Currently, he's president of Friends of Cal, an advocacy organization for UC Berkeley created in response to declining state funding for the university.

"Each campus needs to capitalize on its individual strengths so it can thrive," said Floyd, who received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Berkeley. "We need more decisions made at the campus level. There are a lot decisions made by the office of the president that would be better made by the chancellor's office."

A native San Franciscan and fourth-generation Californian, Floyd has spent much of his life in the Bay Area. After attending the Harvard Business School, he started a family and worked as a vice president and director at Sierra Chemical Company, which made fertilizers for greenhouses and nurseries, until he retired in 1989.

"At that point I took off my for-profit hat and put on my charitable hat," he said.

Looking back on the volunteer work during his life, Floyd said he has intentionally focused his time to help with primarily local and statewide efforts.

"I have devoted my efforts to the organizations that benefit a lot of people," he said. "While I think the worldwide efforts people are engaged in are terrific, there's an awful lot that needs to be done here as well."

Editorial Assistant Eric Van Susteren can be emailed at