William M. Sterrett, Sr. was the director of buildings and grounds from 1965 to 1981. He was born in Rockbridge Baths, Virginia. He attended Washington and Lee University for two years, until 1942 when he began his service in the Army Air Corps. A B-17 navigator/bombardiel, Sterrett was shot down by enemy fire on his fourteenth mission, and spent the last four months as a prisoner of war in Germany.
He returned home safely, and graduated from Virginia Tech in 1947 with a degree in civil engineering. Sterrett was also a registered professional engineer in Virginia.
Over the years, Sterrett served in his local community as well. He was a director in the National Bank of Blacksburg, the Blacksburg-VPI Sanitation Authority, Blacksburg Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Tech University Club, the Blacksburg-Christiansburg Water Authority, and Warm Hearth, Inc., a community for the elderly.
He was also elder, trustee, and treasurer for the Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, and a trustee of Montgomery Regional Hospital. He was a member of the Reserve Officers Association, Retired Officers Association, American Ex-POWs, and the Rotarians. In 1983, William Sterrett, Sr. was named Distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Blacksburg Chamber of Commerce.