Following Thomas Russell’s death in 1933, Gilpin Willson was named President of the Academy and Mr. William A. Pratt was named as the replacement Trustee. Soon though, events would happen that would uncover corruption amongst the Trustees and cause two of the original Trustees to resign.
In 1937, William G. Kable II filed suited against William C. Rowland charging that he had breached his fiduciary duty by paying Thomas H. Russell commissions for sales that Russell had awarded him. The suit charged that these payments had occurred from July 5, 1920, William G. Kable’s death, until May 26, 1933, Thomas H. Russell’s death. The filing of this suit caused W. C. Rowland to resign as a Trustee. In 1938, the court found that W. C. Rowland was guilty of a breach of fiduciary duty and was ordered to repay all commissions paid to Thomas H. Russell. After a Master Commissioner had reviewed the books of the Academy, Rowland was ordered to repay the Academy $116,796.47, plus interest. (Note: There was no record found of William G. Kable II filing suit against the estate of Thomas H. Russell for recovery of the paid commissions, nor was there any mention of this option in the court decree.)
W. G. Kable II also filed suit against Gilpin Willson charging that he also had breached his fiduciary duty as a Trustee. Gilpin Willson resigned as President of SMA and as a director in June 1937. Gilpin continued as a Trustee until 1940. In 1940, the court found that Gilpin Willson also guilty of breaching his fiduciary duty as a Trustee. Willson was ordered to repay the Academy $150.00 for an uncollected loan made while he was President, repay 20% of the premiums for a life insurance policy taken out by SMA for Thomas H. Russell that named Russell’s wife as beneficiary, and share equal liability with W. C. Rowland for the commissions paid to Thomas H. Russell. Gilpin Willson was also ordered to resign as a Trustee.
Also in 1940, William A. Pratt died. This cleared the way for William G. Kable’s widow, Mrs. Whitehead, to be able to replace most of the Trustees named by her husband with those of her own (and most likely her son’s) choosing. Soon, the Trustees were Kable family members and persons trusted by William G. Kable II. The remaining original Trustee, William H. Steele, retained both his Trustee position and his positions of Business Manager and Treasurer of the Academy.
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