Born in New York City’s the Bronx in 1917, Bill Sturgeon worked as a power company lineman in Utica after graduating from high school, and as a ranch hand in Montana before enlisting in the U.S. Army Signal Corps six months prior to the draft for World War II. He served in all grades from Private to Captain during five years of service. His battalion, involved in the invasion of Iwo Jima, was responsible for installing the radar that guided the bombers between the Mariana Islands and Japan.
Thereafter, he worked as an elevator helper and constructor and in 1947 became president of the Mobile Elevator and Equipment Company, Inc., a contracting company operating in Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle. From 1952 to 1956, he served as the volunteer Civil Defense Director of Mobile County, Alabama, and directed the only two evacuations held in the U.S., the last involving the movement of 55,000 city school children. He acted as consultant to federal Civil Defense Administrator Val Peterson and founded and edited the national civil defense magazine – Civil Defender – for three years, during which time he covered several atomic tests in Nevada and first hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Proving Grounds at Enewitok.
Bill Sturgeon founded the first trade magazine of the elevator industry – ELEVATOR WORLD – in January 1953. Selling his contracting business in 1961 he devot- ed full time to the editing of ELEVATOR WORLD until retiring from the editorship in 1997. Sturgeon is a founder of Local 124 of the International Union of Elevator contractors. In 1961 he was chosen the elevator industry’s Man of the Year and in 1995 the National Association of Elevator Contractors created the William C. Sturgeon Distinguished Service Award to be given annually to the member of the industry making the greatest contribution to the well-being of the elevator field. Sturgeon is also a founding member of NAEC, the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association, The National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities and the Elevator/Escalator Safety Foundation.
Sturgeon has served as president of the Mobile Mental Health Association, the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and the Mobile Kiwanis club, as well as a board member of the Alabama Mental Health Association, the Mobile Federation of Christian Churches, the Mobile Art Gallery and the Friends of the Library. He served as Chairman of the Governor’s Alabama Commission on the Arts and the Alabama Rehabilitation Foundation. Mr. Sturgeon passed away on October 11, 2012 at the age of 95.