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Obituary: Thomas Ayers Served as Board Chair from 1975 to 1986

June 19, 2007

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Thomas G. Ayers, 92, who was a member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees for 30 years, died June 8 at his home in Hyde Park.

A memorial service was held Friday (June 15) in Thorne Auditorium at the School of Law.

Mr. Ayers, who became a member of the Board of Trustees in 1966, served as chairman from 1975 to 1986. He became a Life Trustee in 1987 and, in recognition of his service to the University, the 164-student residence hall at 2324 Campus Drive was renamed the Ayers Residential College of Commerce and Industry in 1984.

During his tenure as chairman of the board, he was instrumental in the success of several fund-raising campaigns, the expansion of undergraduate housing, funding for deferred maintenance of the physical plant and strengthening of athletic programs.

After receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, Mr. Ayers in 1938 joined Public Service Co., then a subsidiary of Commonwealth Edison Co. He became president of Commonwealth Edison in 1963 and served as its chief executive officer and president from 1973 to 1980.

A long-time civic and business leader, Mr. Ayers served as chairman of the Metropolitan Crusade of Mercy, president of the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry and a member of the boards of the Chicago Symphony and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center. He served as chairman of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and was honored as the 1973 “Man of the Year” by the Chicago Urban League. He also served on the board of directors of G.D. Searle & Co., Sears Roebuck & Co., Zenith Corp., Northwest Industries, First National Bank of Chicago and Tribune Co.

Mr. Ayers received honorary degrees from DePaul University and Elmhurst College.

He is survived by four sons, William, John, Richard and Thomas Jr.; a daughter, Catherine Allen; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.