Killian, William B. passed away on Sunday, September 23rd after a brief illness. He was 93. He is survived by his son, Sean Killian; his daughter Kathleen Killian; and his two grandchildren, Gambrill and James Foster.
Born August 20, 1925 in DeKalb, Illinois, he was raised there until college. He married Barbara Renner, also from DeKalb, IL., on August 16, 1950. They shared a deep love and a strong and supportive marriage of 64 years.
He received his BA in Economics from Oberlin College in 1948, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to pursue his Law degree from the University of Illinois, from which he graduated Order of the Coif in 1953. He and Barbara moved to Miami in 1954 at the beginning of his legal career. They spent 3 years (1957-1960) in Tallahassee, where he served as Legal Counsel to Gov. Leroy Collins and then as Chairman of the Florida State Road Commission, before returning permanently to Miami.
In private practice for more than five decades with Steel Hector & Davis and its successor firms, he represented numerous clients in major litigation, including National Airlines, Pan American Airlines, Southeast Banking Corporation and Harrods of London. He received the highest rankings for legal ability and professional ethics from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings. When he sought to retire from the firm, he was instead named to the firm-wide legal ethics committee, where he was called upon to sort through the complex legal twists and turns that arise in an international firm.
Bill Killian was a lawyer’s lawyer. He was a natural, compassionate teacher from whom young lawyers received thoughtful and invaluable insights, and were infused with the same high ethical standards which marked Bill’s entire practice. He was a champion of women lawyers long before they achieved the status they now enjoy. His dedication to equality was the bedrock of his beliefs, both in and outside the law.
He was a man of deep and private convictions and held a special love for the mystery of the faith. With a gift for listening –and hearing you—his counsel was invaluable to all who sought it. He was the rock of his family, a kind and gentle man with an unwaveringly generous heart and spirit, boundless intellectual curiosity, and plenty of Irish charm. His loss will be felt profoundly by all who knew him—family, friends, and colleagues.
The funeral will be held this Sunday, September 30, at 2 PM at the Chapel of the Venerable Bede on the University of Miami campus. A reception at his home will follow. Flowers may be sent to the Chapel. Memorial toasts should be made with Jameson Irish Whiskey.