Benefactor and active Olin alum F. Gilbert Bickel III dies

  • December 15, 2023
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

F. Gilbert “Gil” Bickel III—a longtime WashU benefactor, Olin National Council member, distinguished alumnus and successful wealth manager—died peacefully surrounded by his family on December 11, 2023, after battling cancer. He was 79.

The son of another WashU graduate—from the university’s School of Dental Medicine in 1935—Mr. Bickel, BSBA 1966, went on from WashU to earn a master’s degree in commerce from Saint Louis University in 1968.

The St. Louis native was gripped early by a desire to enter the business world and knew he was destined to attend WashU.

“The institution was always in the back of my mind,” he said in a 2013 story in Washington Magazine. “I had gone away the last three years of high school to Culver Military Academy (in Indiana), and my folks felt [that] since I went away for high school, I needed to be home for college.”

After college and graduate school, Mr. Bickel began a career in financial planning—a career that carried him for more than 50 years. His path took him to Morgan Stanley, where he worked in a branch in Clayton, Missouri, becoming senior vice president. After eight years with Morgan Stanley, he joined Wells Fargo in 2011 as senior vice president of investments, ultimately leading a group of wealth management advisors within the organization.

Angel investor

Beyond the boundaries of his direct career, Mr. Bickel lent his skills to assisting entrepreneurs as an angel investor, cofounding St. Louis Arch Angels in 2005. The group provides financing to local startups with high growth potential. His civic involvement also includes the board chairmanship at Innovate St. Louis and membership on the boards of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association and the Bickel Family Charitable Trust.

“It feels good to know you have impacted someone’s life,” Mr. Bickel told Washington Magazine. “I believe if people are given the right guidance, they can turn their dreams into reality.”

Mr. Bickel also held several appointed and elected positions in local governments over the years, including terms as an alderman and mayor of Huntleigh, Missouri. 

WashU Olin honored Mr. Bickel as a distinguished alum in 2005. His involvement with WashU after graduating was extensive. It includes membership on the Danforth Circle Eliot Membership Committee, the Business Alumni Association, the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Olin’s National Council and gift chair for the class reunion committee in 2016. He also was an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees during his terms on the Alumni Board of Governors, and he was a Shepley Trustee. He served as campaign volunteer for WashU Olin during Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University.

Legacy will live on

Mahendra Gupta, a former dean of the Olin Business School and the Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management, said: “Gil was a visionary, always positive, believing in a bright future and the promise of virtuous goals. He was a true champion and ambassador of Olin and Washington University, serving in many leadership and advisory roles, and opening doors through scholarships that he and [his wife] Marty established over the years. 

“We will miss him but take comfort in knowing that his legacy will live on in the halls of Olin and light our ways for many years to come.”

Mr. Bickel is survived by his college sweetheart and wife of 57 years, Martha “Marty” Bickel, who earned a history degree from WashU in 1966. Additionally, he is survived by his five daughters and three sons-in-law: Christine “Christy” Lawton (Patrick) of St. Louis; Susan Desmond of Overland Park, Kansas; Katherine “Kate” Swingle (Christopher) of St. Louis; Jennifer “Jenny” Bender (William) of Atlanta, GA; and Laura Bickel of St. Louis. He is also survived by his 10 grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, December 22, at the Church of the Annunziata, 9305 Clayton Road, St. Louis, Missouri. Visitation will be Friday from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital at and the WashU Olin Business School.

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