Loving husband, father, grandfather and “pal” to so many, William Raymond Anixter, age 93, of Chicago and Scottsdale, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, May 8. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Ansorg Anixter, his six children, Greg Anixter, Julie Anixter, Carol Anixter, Amy Anixter Scott, Mari Anixter, and Jason Max Anixter, and his grandchildren, Jason William Anixter, Ashley Anixter, Ben Forgan, Kylie Forgan, Audrey Scott, Allegra Smith, and Gigi Smith. He was the son of Julius “Loving Putty” and Zelda Anixter.
Bill Anixter was a World War II veteran who was part of the 4th Armored Division, Third Army under General Patton. He was wounded in action in a battle in which only 15 of his company survived and received a Purple Heart. After a stint at the Command Headquarters in London, he returned to Chicago and attended Northwestern University on the GI Bill. He moved to Highland Park, Illinois, to raise his family.
He was well known for founding Anixter Bros., later Anixter Inc., in 1957 with his brother, Alan B. Anixter with an initial loan of $10,000 they received from their mother Zelda. Anixter Bros. was the world’s first wire & cable distribution company with a real-time inventory system and hub-and-spoke network warehouse system that pre-dated Amazon by decades. The company went public in 1967 and grew to approximately 2,000 employees, more than 100 global locations and over $700M in sales before Bill and his brother sold it to Sam Zell in 1986. The success of the company was based on the renowned culture of service that they provided to their customers as well as a unique concept of employee relations that he and his brother initiated from the very start of the company. Bill always maintained that Anixter Bros. was a “family company” and every employee was part of the family.
Tributes to Bill Anixter from friends and former employees began pouring in to the family the moment they heard he had passed away on Mother’s Day.
Following his long ownership of Anixter Bros., Bill owned and operated Stephen’s Restaurant in Albuquerque, and served on the boards of The Armand Hammer United World College and the Boys Club of Arizona. Then he became Chairman of the Board of A-Z Wire & Cable, working with his nephew, Jim Anixter, and his good friend, Ray Geraci, in another wire and cable distribution company in Northbrook, Illinois.
Bill Anixter was known far and wide for his generosity of spirit, his humor, his common touch and for that “twinkle in his eye” that made everyone feel they were always with their very best friend and “pal”.
Services have been held. Contributions in Bill Anixter’s honor can be made to the Boys Clubs of Scottsdale, Arizona or Chicago, Illinois.
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