Former MGIC Investment Corp. chairman and chief executive officer William Lacy passed away Sunday from respiratory failure at the age of 71.
Lacy began working at MGIC in 1971 and was named chief executive officer in 1987. He retired from the company in 1999. The company went from being privately-held to being included in the S&P 500 during his tenure.
A statement from the company on his passing said Lacy was “admired and respected for his tenacity and drive.” Non-executive chairman Curt Culver, who was named CEO after Lacy’s retirement, described him as a friend and colleague.
“His thoughtful leadership saw MGIC through tremendous changes, and helped shape the company into the industry leader that it remains to this day. On behalf of our Board of Directors, executive management team and employees, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his family,” Culver said.
Lacy also served on the boards of a number of other companies, including Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. most recently. He stepped down from the JCI board for personal reasons on Aug. 11 after serving on it since 1997. He was not among the directors named to the board after Johnson Controls completes its merger with Tyco International.
Alex Molinaroli, Johnson Controls chairman and chief executive officer, said Lacy, who served as the company’s lead independent director from 2013 to 2015, made significant contributions to the company.
“For over 20 years he was a trusted partner and friend to our management team and our board,” Molinaroli said. “On behalf of the entire Johnson Controls organization we offer Bill’s family our deepest sympathy.”
During his career, Lacy also served as a director of Ocwen Financial Corp, IMX Exchange, Inc., Total Logistics Control, ACA Capital, Firstar Corporation and Manifold Capital Corp.
In the Milwaukee area, he also served on as a member of the Neighborhood Housing Services leadership committee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Business Advisory Council, the Greater Milwaukee Committee and the board of the Pettit National Ice Center.
Lacy was born in Chicago and raised in Port Washington, according to his obituary. He lettered in football, track and baseball at Port Washington High School. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison on a football scholarship before playing two years at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He eventually received a bachelor’s degree in business from UW – Milwaukee in 1968.
He married Mary Elizabeth Pauly in 1969. The couple moved to the East Coast as Lacy began work at MGIC and eventually settled in Glendale, where they raised four children. Their marriage ended in divorce after 29 years.
Lacy moved to Arizona in 2000.
He is survived by his four children, Tom Lacy (Jane Scripp), Sara Kate Knight (Colin), David Lacy (Tricia Eyster), and Margaret Lacy Meyer (Jacob) and by 11 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at St. Eugene’s Catholic Church, 7600 N. Port Washington Road. There will be a casual visitation starting 8 a.m., and a luncheon reception to follow at the Town Club, 7950 N. Santa Monica Blvd.
A Celebration of Life memorial service will be held Oct. 1 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in Sedona, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers and donation requests, Lacy asked people to spend ten minutes reflecting on the specific ways they can express gratitude in their life today.