Olin alum and benefactor Sidney H. Guller dies just shy of 97

  • October 5, 2020
  • By Kurt Greenbaum
  • 3 minute read

Sidney H. Guller, an alum and longtime benefactor to WashU Olin who, along with his wife, Bobette, cofounded the school’s Scholars in Business Program, died over the weekend a month shy of his 97th birthday.

The funeral announcement said Mr. Guller, BSBA 1947, had died on October 3, 2020, surrounded by his family.

The Scholars in Business program began in 1979 with 14 founding scholarships, led by Mr. Guller and Bobette. Since then, the program has benefitted 6,000 students and has grown to support more than 500 students annually. The couple also established the Bobette and Sidney Guller Endowed Scholarship in 1979.

In a 2014 Olin Business magazine story, Mr. Guller recalled how he was inspired to start the program by his own experience working at a title company in Clayton, Missouri, to scrape together the $250 annual tuition for Washington University at the time.

I realized at that age how important it was to help students stay in school and achieve their dreams.  

Sidney Guller

Deeply involved with Olin

After graduation, Mr. Guller joined his brother, Harold, at Essex Industries Inc., a defense and aerospace industry supplier. Eventually, he became the company’s CFO and treasurer and served as chairman of the board and would continue coming into the office until the COVID-19 shutdown early this year.

“Sidney has been an extraordinary friend to Olin, as well as to me personally since my arrival as dean,” said Mark P. Taylor, dean of Olin Business School. “The number of students who have benefitted from his involvement and his financial support is incalculable. I will always be thankful for his support and generosity.”

Mr. Guller was named an Olin distinguished alumnus in 1990 and honored as the Dean’s Medalist in 2011. He has been a member of the school’s capital gifts committee and has served on Olin’s Eliot Society Membership Committee. He was also a Life Member of the Eliot Society, and was a founding sponsor of the Scholars in Business Program.

“Over and over through the decades, deans of the Olin School would ask Sidney to serve, assist, and contribute. He never said no,” said Robert Virgil, Olin dean emeritus. “His passion was for endowing scholarships, helping make it possible for students of all backgrounds and circumstances to come to Washington University.”

It is noteworthy that he provided scholarships for as many as 113 students over three decades and was particularly focused on providing scholarships for MBA students in the 3/2 program—merging an undergraduate and MBA degree into five years.

‘Very special friend’

“Sid was a very special friend. I talked with him in June and we were planning to get together for lunch once it is safe,” said Mahendra Gupta, former Olin dean and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management. “Sid was an exemplary champion of Olin, a gentle giant, a devoted husband, a loving grandfather, and a generous soul. He knew how to live in the present and set sights higher for the future. Sid will always have a very special place in the history of Olin and in the hearts of many.”

In addition to his other service to Olin, Mr. Guller had served on the Business Alumni Association, as an executive chair of his class reunion committee and as a member of Olin’s National Council.

Quite a number of Mr. Guller’s family members also attended WashU, including nephew Keith Guller, EMBA 1989; niece Susan Guller, LA 1979; nephew Eric Fox, BSBA 2000; grandson Evan Waldman, EMBA 2009 (now CEO of Essex Industries); and grandson Corey Waldman, EMBA 2016.

Mr. Guller was preceded in death by his wife, Bobette “Bobbi” Guller. He is survived by daughters Deni Kronenberg (Joel), Jody Waldman (Mickey), Nanci Seigel Manson (Roy) and Robyn Levy-Marino (Mark Miller); grandchildren Evan Waldman (Kami), Todd Waldman (Diana), Corey Waldman (Rachel), Bryan Siegel, Erika Isard (Phillip), Jordan Santo, Emily Marino, Samantha Manson and Jacqui Manson; great-grandchildren Landon Waldman, Parker Waldman, Sawyer Waldman, Logan Waldman, Grace Waldman, Teddy Waldman and Jackson Waldman; brother Maurice (Rachel) Guller; and sisters-in-law Judi Elman (Bob) and Bette Fox (Richard Lyss).

Services for Mr. Guller’s are scheduled for October 6 at 2 p.m. Personal attendance is limited to protect the health and safety of others; however, the service will be livestreamed.

Pictured at top: Sidney Guller, center, with members of his family at the 2016 Olin scholarship dinner.

About the Author

Kurt Greenbaum

Kurt Greenbaum

As communications director for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to find and share great stories about our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. I've worked for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management as communications director and as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sun-Sentinel in South Florida and the Chicago Tribune.

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