Willard J. Kingsbury

p. 326 - Willard J. Kingsbury is the district manager of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States for the district comprising twelve counties in southwestern Michigan, and with administrative headquarters in the city of Grand Rapids, where he maintains well appointed offices in the Grand Rapids Savings Bank building. Mr. Kingsbury was born on the parental homestead farm in Lapeer township, Lapeer county, Michigan, November 27, 1876, and is a son of John C. and Almira (Decker) Kingsbury, who now maintain their home in Grand Rapids, the former having been born on the same ancestral farm in Lapeer county as was his son Willard J. and Mrs. Kingsbury having been born at Orion, Oakland county. The Kingsbury family was founded in America in the early colonial era and is one of no minor distinction in the ancient annals of England, in which country its representatives have figured as lords, knights, military leaders, clergymen, educators and statesmen. The lineage is traced back in England to the time of the Saxon kings, and the family name is said to have been given in the reign of King Charles I, by reason of the prominent part taken by a member, or members, of the family in the burial of one of the Saxon kinks. Of this family line in England William Shakespeare was a representative, and in America a distinguished scion was the great Daniel Webster. Kingsbury men have been soldiers in every war in which this nation has been involved, and one or more gained distinction as patriots in the Continental Line in the war of the Revolution. From England Henry Kingsbury accompanied Governor Winthrop to America, and his disembarkation at Charleston, Massachusetts, occurred in the year 1630. In his native county the early educational discipline of Willard J. Kingsbury included that of the high school at Lapeer, and his youthful ambition to become a lawyer was deflected by the demands placed on him in connection with the work of the home farm. He remained on the farm until he had attained the age of nineteen years, and in 1895 he assumed the position of clerk in one of the leading hotels at Pontiac, the Red Rose, where he continued his service for six years. In 1902 he became proprietor of the Central House, a well ordered hotel at Greenville, and this he conducted six years. His twelve years of association with the hotel business enabled him to become acquainted with many leading men of Michigan and to gain distinct popularity with the traveling public. After leaving the hotel at Greenville Mr. Kingsbury was for ten years a traveling representative for Taylor Brothers, of Rochester, New York, the largest of the worlds manufacturers of thermometers. In 1918 the department of the business that he thus represented was eliminated, owing to conditions that followed the nationís entry into the World war. And it was at this juncture that Mr. Kingsbury initiated his service with the great Equitable Life Assurance Society. After serving as an agent for this important corporation six months he was appointed its district manager for southwestern Michigan, with its headquarters in Kalamazoo, and further recognition of his efficiency and constructive service came in 1921, when he was transferred to Grand Rapids and given supervision of the district of southwestern Michigan with jurisdiction over twelve counties, including Kalamazoo county. He has made a splendid record in expanding the business of the Equitable Life within his assigned and important territory, and he has membership in the National Underwriters Association, as well as in the Michigan and Grand Rapids organizations of insurance underwriters. His political alignment is in the ranks of the Republican party, and both he and his wife are active members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Grand Rapids, he being now president (1925) of the Methodist Union in this city and especially active in the Sunday School of his church. He served as Sunday School Superintendent while a resident of Kalamazoo and also while residing in Albion. In 1900 Mr. Kingsbury wedded Miss Eva Blanch Elwell, of Pontiac, and they have four children: Josef Ronald, Willard J., Jr., Jean Alice, and Evelyn Blanch. Josef R. Kingsbury, who is now eighteen years of age at the time of this writing has exceptional musical talent, has received excellent advantages in cultivating this talent, has played the violin since he was a lad of nine years, and is now a teacher of the violin in the musical department of the Grand Rapids public schools, besides which he has been called upon for violin interpretations in radio broadcasting.

Transcriber: John Miller
Created: 4 March 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/kingsburywj.html