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Bill Hemphill obituary

My father-in-law, Bill Hemphill, was an American “country boy” who displayed acumen and generosity in business, civic duty and during the second world war. He has died aged 90 in Greensboro, North Carolina, the town where he was born, and to which he devoted himself.

Bill’s grandfather was a farmer; his father lost money in the depression and went on to work in a restaurant. Bill served during the war in the Eighth and Ninth US Air Forces, was responsible for setting up bases in southern England, as part of the D-day effort, and reached the rank of captain.

Returning to the US with his British war bride, Joan, he took a degree under the GI bill at Bowling Green College, Kentucky (now the Western Kentucky University). He went on to become an accountant and then a founder of the mortgage insurer United Guaranty Corporation. Bill took a leading role in expanding this company into a national business, then negotiated its merger with the huge American International Group, going on to serve as a director of AIG.

Passionate about many things, including education, equality of opportunity, healthcare and literature, Bill contributed immeasurably to Greensboro. He and Joan were the founding co-chairs of the Greensboro Public Library Foundation and funded a branch library which was named in their honour. As a trustee, then vice-chairman and chairman of the board of the Moses H Cone memorial hospital, he worked to develop this facility into a large medical centre with strong funding and a policy of free treatment for those who cannot afford to pay.

Bill’s view of US politics was shrewd and incisive. He brought practicality to his assessment of all problems and characters. But the big brain and exceptional vision were matched by a generous love for Joan, his two sons, Lee and Ross, and four grandchildren, who survive him. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds