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William W. Drury Jr.
PERSONAL INJURY –
In 1980, 7-year-old Chris Greicius, who had leukemia,
said he wanted to be a police officer “to catch bad
guys.” A group of do-gooders—including a friend
of the family who happened to be a U.S. Customs
Agent—jumped through bureaucratic hoops to make
it happen, creating a uniform, a small motorcycle and
a pad and pen. “Chris had so much fun riding up and
down his street writing tickets,” says Bill Drury, whose
sister-in-law was involved in the effort.
Chris died soon after, and the group realized
that what had been done for him could become
something special. Drury was invited to help put an
organization together. It was originally named Chris
Greicius Make-A-Wish Memorial, Inc., and its first-
year budget was just $10,000. Drury thought it could
become one of the biggest charities in America.
In 1982, NBC broadcast a story about the orga-
nization. “They filmed part of it in my office,” says
Drury, now a senior shareholder at Renaud Cook
Drury Mesaros in Phoenix, where he focuses on
personal injury defense and has tried more than 100
cases to a jury verdict. After the TV program aired,
the group was flooded with requests for information.
“We knew how much interest there was because
we got so many letters and phone calls from others
wanting to get involved,” he says.
The board eventually decided to go national. Drury
and four other board members led the effort to build
the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, a national
organization with local chapters. He recruited people
with various types of expertise, including another
Make-A-Wish co-founder William Drury Jr. has created a lasting legacy of
helping sick children and their families BY DAVID LEVINE
lawyer to help set up its 501(c)( 3) status. “I never was
the [organization’s] corporate lawyer,” he says. “I set
up how we would operate, what wishes we would
grant, the parameters of granting. We raised some
funds, and off it went.”
That’s an understatement. With Drury serving as
executive vice president from 1986 to 1987 and as a
director until 1989, the organization grew from that
first wish to almost 1 5,000 granted wishes in 2015.
In 2010, at the organization’s 30th anniversary, its
national office budget was tens of millions of dol-
lars. Drury left the group the day before he would
have become its president. “I had three young kids
at home, so I stepped down,” he says. “These things
require changes in leadership, and we had a solid
But he never fully stepped away from charity
work. After his wife, Colleen, died of ovarian cancer
in 2013, Drury’s four daughters and their husbands
formed Colleen’s Dream in her honor, a foundation
dedicated to improving the detection and treat-
ment of ovarian cancer. “We’ve raised hundreds of
thousands of dollars so far,” he says.
He’s immensely proud of what Make-A-Wish has
become. “I have to chuckle to myself. I still remember
the day we decided to go with the wishbone logo,”
he says. “Back then, I knew I wanted to get involved
in the community, but I was only a young lawyer.
This fell out of the sky. I am proud of being part of
something that took on a life of its own, and amazed
On average, a
wish is granted
in the U.S.
2. 5 billion
frequent-flier miles needed
each year to cover the cost of
travel for kids and their families
granted by wrestler John Cena,
more than any other individual
more than 14,800
wishes granted, the
in the United States and its
territories since 1980