She was born in Dundee, Scotland. He was born in Montreal. She joined the church with her family in Northern Ireland. He joined without his family, two weeks short of his 22nd birthday. They met in Montreal and were married in the Salt Lake Temple. They have eight children and 17 grandchildren, and they just entered the MTC, bound for the Korea Seoul West Mission. Talk to William M. and Elsie Bancroft for a few minutes, and you will realize that these basic facts define their lives. All else—and there is a lot more—is icing on a large cake. "It gives us deep satisfaction to assist with anything that has the Lord's name on it," Elsie says. That attitude explains their involvement with the Life Sciences' College Volunteer Leadership Council since 1993. It has to, because neither of them attended BYU—Bill graduated from McGill University—and neither has a background in the sciences. "I asked Dean Huber when he invited me to be on the council, 'Why me? I have an accounting and finance background. I know nothing about molecular science,'" Bill says. "And he said, 'You bring balance and a different perspective to the council.'"
They bring missionary zeal to the job as well, zeal tempered with extensive work and service experience. Before they moved to Provo, Bill worked in the financial industry in Montreal and Calgary, first as an underwriter for Royal Insurance Company, then as a Chartered Accountant (the Canadian equivalent of a CPA) for what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers, then as an officer of the Swiss Bank Corporation for 16 years, and finally as the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration of Dynix, Inc., a Provo-based automated library systems company. "We moved here in 1987 because I invested with two partners in Dynix," Bill explains.
Along the way, he fulfilled myriad church callings, including a stint as president of the Edgemont North Stake in Provo and recently as a branch president in the MTC, his wife always at his side. "Service is not always synonymous with convenience," she says. "So you just go and do it. I think of the King Benjamin address where he said that when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God. That's Bill Bancroft."
That's Elsie Bancroft as well. Like her husband, she has held many church callings, but the joy of her life has been teaching seminary and institute in both Canada and Utah. "I just can't express it," she says. "The joy of waking up in the morning and teaching the gospel throughout the school day. Afterwards, you just float home."
When people are that enthusiastic about anything with the Lord's name on it, you can imagine their contribution to BYU and the College of Life Sciences. Add students into the equation, and their enthusiasm only increases. "The spirit of the Y is phenomenal," Bill says. "And the kids are great and worth investing in. That's why we want to help. We want to be part of their future."
Of course, Elsie agrees. "We have an expression in our family, 'What were you born for?' We were born to serve." And you?