In Memoriam: Albert Wohlers
The College has lost a long-time friend and alumnus – Albert Wohlers, who passed away November 11, 2014, at age 97. Those who never knew him personally might recognize his name from Wohlers Hall, which was renamed in his honor in 2000 after Wohlers and his wife, Jane, made it possible for the College to make extensive renovations of the building.
Wohlers was a self-made man from Park Ridge, Illinois, born August 17, 1917. He graduated from the College in 1939 with a degree in economics. He immediately launched into his career as an underwriter with Continental Casualty Company. During World War II, he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Force. After the war he rejoined Continental, then worked for Youngberg-Carlson Company, later becoming vice president.
In 1961 he became the owner and founder of Albert H. Wohlers and Co., an insurance brokerage and consulting company, and was recognized as a “pioneer in group insurance” – developing insurance products for professional and association groups in health, life, liability, and all other types of commercial risks. By 2000 Wohlers and Co. was one of the largest insurance agencies in the US with clients in 50 states and Canada, Central America, Europe, and Asia.
Albert and Jane Wohlers believed strongly in philanthropy in addition to entrepreneurship. He was a loyal benefactor to the University of Illinois, Avenues to Independence, the Mayo Clinic, and the Western Gold Association (WGA), as well as other causes.
He also served as a College Business Advisory Council member from 1982 and into the 2000s, and served as its chair from 1993 to 1994. Wohlers chaired the Entrepreneurship Committee for many years, and as such was the guiding force in the development of the College’s entrepreneurship program and curriculum. He considered his proudest accomplishment as a member of this council to be his active role in creating the College’s Office for Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OBIE).
Ivan Bull, former director of the OBIE and professor emeritus of accountancy and finance, called Wohlers “the rock” and an “entrepreneur par excellence” whose insight and direct involvement made the program a reality.
Wohlers received several university awards, including the Commerce Appreciation Award (now College of Business Appreciation Award), 1995; Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award, 2001; and the College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2005. He was also a member of the University of Illinois Presidents Council beginning in 1979 and a charter member of the American Institute of Professional Group Insurance Administrators and the Professional Insurance Mass Marketing Association.
“He has served the College in many, many ways with panache and enthusiasm,” said Dean Howard Thomas in 2000. “He is truly a wonderful alumnus and great friend who exemplifies the Illini spirit and the virtues of great education offered by the College.”
Wohlers was preceded in death by his wife, Jane, and one daughter. He is survived by another daughter and four grandchildren. Services and entombment will be private.