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William B. Akers

Nashville native William B. Akers enrolled in Vanderbilt University in 1942, and was there for two years before entering the U.S. Navy during World War II. The Navy sent him to the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated in 1945 with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He then went to Midshipmen’s School at Cornell University. World War II ended while he was at Cornell, and he was ordered to sea duty in the Pacific and served as a member of the task force for Operation Crossroads at Bikini for the atom bomb test in June 1946.

Akers received his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1946 and re-enrolled in the Vanderbilt School of Engineering. He earned his bachelor of engineering degree in civil engineering in 1947 and went on to obtain his master of science degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1948.

After M.I.T., Akers worked as a soils engineer for the Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Miss. In 1949 he founded and became president of Asphalt Products, a materials manufacturer. In 1956 he and his brother Clark formed the Globe Co., a highway contractor. In 1980 they formed the Parent Co. Inc., a general contractor in Nashville. In 1981 they sold all the companies and retired.

Akers has contributed to Vanderbilt in a number of ways. In the 1970s he led a crucially important fundraising campaign for Vanderbilt School of Engineering, which was largely responsible for saving the school. He was a charter member of the board of the Nashville Better Business Bureau and served on the board of the Family and Children’s Services, was president of the Nashville Area Junior Chamber of Commerce, and was a co-founder and former president of the Hundred Club of Nashville.

Akers, his wife, Jo Ann, and their four children are all Vanderbilt graduates. They and their families live in Nashville.