A memorial service has been planned for William R. Elfers '67 at St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church, 124 Front St., Marion, MA, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at 11 a.m. This celebration of his life will mark the one-year anniversary of his passing.
His family requests that all attendees be vaccinated and that masks be worn to the service. Please visit www.saundersdwyer.com for the online condolence book.
Read more about this loyal alumnus below.
Financial executive William R. Elfers ’67, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees whose enthusiasm and love for Hotchkiss were exceeded only by a tenacious work ethic, died on Nov. 28, 2020 at home in Marion, Massachusetts, due to complications associated with ALS. He was 71.
Elfers was formerly the managing partner of Tower Capital Partners in Boston. Active in his community, he had served as a trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Newton Wellesley Hospital, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Fessenden School, and the Winsor School.
Bill Elfers came to Hotchkiss in 1963. A serious student, he sang in the choir, was a senior proctor, and worked as a student guide for the Admissions Office. He participated in tennis, skiing, and cross country.
After graduation in 1967, he entered Princeton. Notably, he began volunteering for Hotchkiss his freshman year at Princeton. After earning his A.B. from Princeton, he studied in Heidelberg (Germany) as a Fulbright Scholar before receiving his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
He began his professional career at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York, working as an investment officer in the foreign investment department. In 1978, he joined Fidelity Investments in Boston, working as a general partner and vice president of Fidelity Ventures Ltd., a venture capital firm investing primarily in early-stage high-technology companies. In 1987, he became managing director of Fidelity Capital, the venture division of Fidelity Investments, and founder, chairman and CEO of Community Newspaper Company, a group of 117 weekly and daily newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. In 2001, he became managing partner of Tower Capital Partners.
His service as class agent for 1967 included one period of 22 consecutive years, and he also volunteered as a group captain for The Hotchkiss Fund. In 1988, he received the Armitage Award for distinguished service to the Hotchkiss Fund. His own generosity to the School extended over many years to numerous scholarships and named funds. He also served on the Board of Governors of the Alumni Association.
During his time on the Board of Trustees, from 1995 to 2017, he served as vice president from 2010 to 2017 and as treasurer from 1996 to 2010. He completed his service as a trustee in 2017 and was elected trustee emeritus. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Elfers actively recruited and mentored members of the Board and, specifically, the Investment Committee. Robert R. Gould ‘77, co-president of the Board of Trustees, described him as being “constantly on the hunt for talent,” and as a person whose own dedication to service was deeply inspiring. “It was essentially impossible to say no to Bill -- partly because he was such a kind and gentle man, but also because it was painfully apparent that his own personal commitment of time and resources dwarfed that which most of us have ever contemplated. Saying ‘no’ was really out of the question.”
On February 18, 2020, a Head of School Holiday was announced in honor of Bill Elfers for his extraordinary commitment to the School. In communicating the holiday, Head of School Craig Bradley said, “When I think of alumni who have dedicated themselves to serving their school in all sorts of ways, I think of Mr. Elfers.”
Following the announcement, students broke out into a chant of "Elfers, Elfers, Elfers," which apparently brought Mr. Elfers great joy.
The ties of the Elfers family to Hotchkiss run deep. His late father, Bill Sr., was a member of the Class of 1937 and served as a trustee of the School from 1967-77 and from 1979-84. He received the Alumni Award in 1979. Most visibly at the School, the Elfers family made the gift to Hotchkiss to create the Katherine M. Elfers Hall in the Esther Eastman Music Center. The stunning performance space, known on campus simply and affectionately as “Elfers,” was given in memory of Katherine M. Elfers, mother of Bill Sr. ’37 and grandmother of Bill Jr.’67.
“The Elfers family has been deeply generous to Hotchkiss through their service and through their substantial material support,” Bradley said at the time of the holiday announcement. “We owe them our warmest and heartiest thank you! Thank you, Bill Elfers, your father, and your family, for all you have done for and given to The Hotchkiss School.”
In the words of Elizabeth G. Hines ‘93, co-president of the Board of Trustees, “Bill was among the greatest champions of Hotchkiss, and its power to positively impact the lives of the students in its care, that I have had the privilege to work with in my time on the Board. He was kind, he was focused, and he was always willing to share his knowledge with those around him, no matter how young or uninformed. Any one of us who knew Bill learned an extraordinary amount at his side. He was a good man, in every sense of the word, and it was simply a privilege to have known him.”
Mr. Elfers is survived by his wife, Deborah (Bennett), and two daughters, Katherine and Amelia. The Elfers family resides in Marion, MA.