(Mar. 9, 1900-Oct. 17, 1966). William Burnett Stokely was born in Newport, Tennessee. He was two years younger than the canning company that his father and namesake founded with his grandmother and brothers. In 1898, his mother Anna R. Stokely invested $3,000 in a cannery along the banks of the French Broad River in east Tennessee. She and her sons William, James R., George, and John B. Stokely, installed a steam engine to cook tomatoes grown on family farms prior to canning. Crates of canned tomatoes were then shipped by barge to market.

A 1918 graduate of the Newport high school, Stokely served in the U.S. Army during World War I, prior to receiving an A.B. degree in commerce at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1922. Afterward, young Stokely joined the family firm, Stokely Brothers and Company, becoming its treasurer. In June 1929, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, as president of the company. Four years later, he relocated to Indianapolis where the Stokely firm had purchased the assets of the Van Camp Products Company and Van Camp Packing Company.

Stokely served as president and chairman of Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., and its numerous subsidiaries. He also was a director of Merchants National Bank and a member of numerous Indianapolis clubs. In 1963, the Stokely family sold his mansion at 3040 Cold Spring Road to Marian College.

The Wheeler Residence, later known as Wheeler-Stokely Mansion, on the Marian University campus, 1913
Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society
Revised March 2021

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.