As the face of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association for 28 years, Bill Barrow moved the association and Colorado’s automotive industry forward in notable ways. Bill retired as President of CADA in 2005 and died in 2015.
Bill was born in Fieldale, Virginia in 1943. He earned high school All-American honors in basketball. He was offered 42 baksetball scholarships and chose the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated with a dual degree in economics and political science.
He worked for the Chrysler Corporation for nine years in the Western Region, moving around to Colorado Springs, Utah and Denver. Chrysler wanted him to move to Detroit but he turned them down and stayed in Denver, where he joined CADA and the Metro Denver Automobile Dealers Association in 1976.
A pressing job at CADA was to stabilize finances, so Bill started several businesses within the association that provided ongoing revenue. He grew the staff from three to 10 and moved the headquarters from 1601 Emerson St. to the elegant headquarters building today on Speer Blvd. He took enormous pride in the facility, named the William D. Barrow Building in his honor.
Since its founding in 1902, The Denver Auto Show had been sporadically held. Bill engineered its rebirth on a firm, annual footing, first at Currigan Hall. When the Colorado Convention Center was built, the Denver Auto Show moved and expanded; it, too was his pride and joy. He thought it was a wonderful way to get consumers to love cars as much as he did.
Bill built strong relationships with state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, where his goal was always to help protect both dealers and consumers. He also worked hard on the federal level to protect clean air and clean water. He’s widely credited with helping to improve dealers’ image with consumers.
After retiring in 2005, Bill’s health declined. He was the oldest patient to qualify for a liver transplant at the Colorado Health Sciences Center. He had a few cancer scares and then suffered a stroke. He died August 22, 2015 in Arizona, where he lived with his wife, Merilee Keene Barrow.
Bill’s personal philosophy was: Be honest and ethical and work at something you absolutely love. His love of cars was at the root of everything he did, and he was always looking for his next and newest set of wheels to get him out on the road.