Bill Basler is happy to be a busy man. If he’s not at his desk as chief executive officer and treasurer of Basler Electric Company, he’s taking his wife, Marge, to the Cardinals baseball games or just enjoying their grandchildren. Family togetherness in work and play is the Basler way of life, going back to the early 1930s when Basler’s father started Basler Electric in Highland, Ill.
Basler Electric has grown into a global electrical products and service company under Basler’s leadership, with more than 870 employees at headquarters in Highland and facilities in Texas, Mexico, France and China. Basler also serves as Chairman of the Board and owns the company with his three sons. Basler admits that working side-by-side with his boys is “mostly fun!”
Life was not as fun for Basler 11 years ago. He was only 49 years old when a kidney physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital discovered he had prostate cancer. Basler crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River many times from his home in Highland so that he could have his tests and surgeries at the hospital.
“I’ve been cancer free for 11 years now,” he says. “I knew that I ought to give the hospital something!” He and his wife have been giving since the first day they received the good news.
Appointed to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation Board in June 2009, Basler says, “Barnes-Jewish Hospital has the greatest knowledge base and variety of medical fields of all the hospitals in the region,” he says. “If something is wrong with you, someone at Barnes-Jewish will be able to help you. I hope I can bring to the Foundation Board some of the lessons I’ve learned as a businessman and help to make a great organization even better.”
The Baslers recently made a major gift commitment to create the Mr. and Mrs. William L. Basler Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Fund. Their fund is helping to support the production of a comprehensive database that enables physicians to give women effective breast cancer prevention strategies based on individual risk factors. It’s the type of project that results from the partnership of a hospital and university that are national leaders in medicine—and it could not go forward without charitable support.
“Our family is fortunate to have never been touched by breast cancer,” Basler says. “But this project represented a great need, so we made a gift. If our fund can help save a life, it’s worth a lot more than money.”
From Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation’s Giving Magazine, 2009, Issue 2