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William Lechler, Former ODU Board of Visitors Member, Dies

William Mervin Lechler, a Former Member of Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors, has died. He was 84.

Lechler, who was appointed to ODU's Board of Visitors in 1996, received the prestigious Patrick Henry Award from former governor Jim Gilmore for his service to the commonwealth in 2001. Lechler was not only known for his outstanding work ethic, but for his perseverance, courage, strength and humor through the broad and varied sweep of his life. He was a bold, decisive and caring leader both at work and home, the obituary said.

"Bill was a strong force during his two terms on the Board of Visitors," said Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick. "The University benefited from his vision, passion and broad business experience. He remained a good friend to the University and me well beyond his board service."

Lechler, a Pennsylvania native, pursued his undergraduate studies at Pennsylvania State University and then went to serve in the U.S. army. After the army, he began working in the power transmission industry.

He served as president of Sumitomo Machinery Corporation in Chesapeake, one of the largest manufacturers of machinery in Japan, and the global leader in power transmission knowledge and innovation, from 1991- 1998. Lechler served on boards for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Japan-Virginia Society and served as the finance committee chair of the Virginia Veteran Services Foundation Board of Trustees in Richmond.

Outside work, Lechler was a passionate hunter, avid fisherman and enjoyed boating as well as traveling with his family and friends.

He is survived by his wife Nancy; two daughters, Lore and Laura; son, John; one grandson; a host of nephews; nieces; other relatives; friends, colleagues; and associates. Lechler is predeceased by his first wife, Jane, his brother George and sister-in-law.

A funeral service for Lechler will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 10:30 a.m. at Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church, located at 2020 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his memory to Eastern Shore Chapel Memorial Fund, The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, or a charity of the donor's choosing. A guest book may be signed and condolences may be sent to the family at hdoliver.com.

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