Philadelphia Demolition Industry Icon William Geppert Jr., Dies at Age 88

Tue July 17, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

William Geppert Jr., former chairman of the board of Geppert Bros., a 
demolition firm in Colmar, Pa., 
died of cancer June 29.
William Geppert Jr., former chairman of the board of Geppert Bros., a demolition firm in Colmar, Pa., died of cancer June 29.

William A. Geppert Jr., 88, of Lafayette Hill, Pa., a decorated World War II veteran and former chairman of the board of Geppert Bros., a demolition firm in Colmar, Pa., died of cancer June 29.

Mr. Geppert attended LaSalle College in Philadelphia as World War II began. He entered the Army in September 1943 and after training with the 63rd Division in Mississippi, he was shipped off to France. At the age of 20 he was wounded while aiding in the setting up of an outpost near the village of St. Malo, and as a result spent 44 months in hospitals being treated for a shoulder wound and a femur shattered by a bullet.

In May 1948, Mr. Geppert left the Army on an emergency medical leave, following his father’s fourth heart attack. He was discharged with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

“My father held a meeting in which he presented the idea of establishing a new company for his four sons, myself, age 24, Joseph, age 22, who had been recently discharged from the Navy and was a crane operator, Jim, age 17, who was a year away from being drafted had the war continued, and Richard, age 10,” Mr. Geppert told CEG in a 2009 interview.

The Geppert family had entered the demolition business in 1925 when William A. Geppert Sr. founded William A. Geppert Inc. in the Germantown area of Philadelphia. Geppert Jr. and his three younger brothers took over operation of the firm upon the senior Geppert’s death in 1953.

Mr. Geppert’s first job at GBI was in charge of tools/runner in the field. Later he worked as an estimator and finally as secretary. His daily routine as secretary of GBI involved spending a lot of time “executing all the new crazy forms that are now a part of the bidding process,” as he put it.

Mr. Geppert was a charter member of the National Association of Demolition Contractors (NADC) and helped develop the association’s first Demolition Safety Manual. He also served on the NADC’s board of directors during the second, third and fourth years after its founding in the early 1980s, and was presented with the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michael Taylor, executive director of the National Demolition Association, worked with Mr. Geppert for 30 years through the NADC and other demolition associations. Like Geppert, Taylor also graduated from LaSalle High School, which, according to Taylor, added something special to their friendship.

He spoke highly of Mr. Geppert and his family business. “Geppert Bros. was well respected in Philadelphia,” Taylor said. “They were fierce competitors, but they did and still do high quality work. Bill and [his brother] Richard were leaders in this industry.”

“Beyond everything else, Bill was a great guy,” Taylor said. “He was the sweetest guy with a big heart; he was just a marvelous person to know. He was a mover and shaker in this industry and a hell of a nice guy as well.”

Mr. Geppert is survived by his daughter Annamarie Geppert Hellebusch (M. Stroud), granddaughters Morgan Blanche Hellebusch and Grace Elizabeth Hellebusch and siblings Nancy Duff, Marie Steinhauser, Joan Reed and Richard Geppert. He was preceeded in death by his wife Anna Marie Blanche Geppert and siblings Joseph Geppert, James Geppert and Lorraine Sirianni.

Donations may be made to Disabled American Veterans, Box 14301, Cincinnati, Ohio 45250.

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