In memoriam: Bill Mette

William (Bill) R. Mette Jr., former Grant Thornton LLP CEO and the first international managing partner of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL), passed away on May 9, 2016, at the age of 86. The firm extends its deepest sympathies to Mette’s family and friends on the loss of this prominent member of the Grant Thornton team.

“Bill contributed his leadership and expertise to our firm for 35 years,” said Grant Thornton CEO Mike McGuire. “Among his most significant achievements was the creation of Grant Thornton International, leading our firm to establish the global network that has become one of our greatest competitive advantages. Mette’s vision for Grant Thornton provided a strong foundation for the success we enjoy today.”

Mette, in his own words, “grew up in Grant Thornton.” He was born on June 11, 1929, in Bloomington, Ill., and graduated from University of Illinois with a BS in Accounting in 1951. When his father’s CPA practice merged with Alexander Grant in 1947, Mette found himself working part-time for the firm as an 18-year-old college student. He would return after college and a stint in the Air Force to work in the Chicago office.

Mette became a partner in 1960 — and the Chicago office managing partner in 1967. In 1972, he became the executive partner (CEO), a position that he held for eight years. When Grant Thornton International (GTIL) was formed in 1980, Mette stepped down as executive partner and became the first GTI international managing partner.

“Bill was instrumental in developing our U.S. firm in the 1970s and our global organization when it was first formed. I will remember him as an influential leader in building our foundation,” said GTIL CEO Ed Nusbaum.

Although Mette retired from Grant Thornton in 1983 at age 54, he never really “retired.” He continued as an investor, officer and director for three different companies over the next 30 years in mortgage banking, property and casualty insurance, and financial planning. As he said, “Sometimes I think it’s time to stop, but then something new comes along that interests me and I have trouble saying no.”

He is survived by his wife Barbara Coe Mette and several children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — as well as three siblings. Donations may be made in his memory to the National Kidney Foundation or the Easy K Foundation.