Date of death: 8/6/2008
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1976
Dean Wilhelm, 62, who for 25 years was the general manager of the 529-room Holiday Inn Capitol, the seventh-largest U.S. property in the hotel’s chain, died of cancer at the Washington Home hospice. He lived in Alexandria.Mr. Wilhelm worked in the hotel industry for nearly 40 years, starting as a bellman and working his way up to the position of market manager for Donohoe Hospitality Services, a job he started June 1, overseeing three full-service hotels, including the Holiday Inn he used to manage.Often quoted in the press, usually because he was one of the longest-serving hotel managers in the city, he found himself the subject of a Washington Post article in February 2003 when the worst winter storm in six years shut down the city.With 400 guests and only 50 employees on hand for a long, snowbound weekend, Mr. Wilhelm instituted emergency rules: No room service, limited room cleaning until a room was vacated, and buffets at breakfast, lunch and dinner.When 700 people showed up for dinner Sunday night rather than the usual 150, Mr. Wilhelm rolled up his sleeves and helped wash the dishes.He was recognized by Holiday Inn Worldwide in 2007 as “best of the best” and named general manager of the year by the Hotel Association of Washington. He was on the board of that association for 20 years and was a past president.Born in Norwalk, Ohio, he graduated from the University of Dayton and joined the hotel business. He worked for Holiday Inn in Miami Beach, Cocoa Beach, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, before moving to the Washington area.He was a member of the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp.’s convention committee, and he advocated the 1999 formation of the charter school Hospitality High School. He and his staff mentored 20 students and provided jobs for eight students.Mr. Wilhelm was the first hotel manager to commit to providing food to the D.C. Central Kitchen, an organization that feeds the homeless, and he worked with the Marriott Foundation’s Bridges program, hiring 11 youths with disabilities and providing job readiness workshops for many others.Survivors include sister Judy (John) Miller, Joan Kehrer (John Webster) and brother Roger (Kathy) Wilhelm; long time friend of Al Mercogliano. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.Information obtained from the Washington Post online and Evans Funeral Home Web site, Norwalk, OH.