100 Years of Leadership

Title: 100 Years of Leadership

BY JOE PHILLIPS AND PETER CRAIG

Over its 100 years, NADA has been fortunate to have a long list of talented, dynamic leaders. For the first 81 years—up until 1998—their title was president, and thereafter, chairman. These dealers usually came up through the ranks, serving in various positions on the NADA board and helping spearhead industry initiatives.


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1917 NADA’s first president, George W. Browne

The first leader was George W. Browne in 1917—elected in Chicago at the incorporation of NADA, which was launched after 30 dealers went to Washington, D.C., to oppose the luxury tax on automobiles. Browne aided government efforts during World War I by helping to reduce industry waste and then presided over NADA’s first annual meeting, also in Chicago.


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1954 NADA President Charles C. Freed

Here are some other notable NADA leaders in the early decades:


  • Fred W.A. Vesper, the longest-serving president, with one-year terms in 1918 and 1919; he then returned during the Depression to help NADA through 1933, 1934 and 1935.
  • Thomas J. Hay, the shortest-serving president, who resigned in 1919 for personal reasons after just three days.
  • William L. “Billy” Hughson, the nation’s first Ford dealer lived from 1868 to 1967, serving as association president in 1927 and San Francisco convention chairman in 1939, and was still attending NADA conventions in the 1950s.
  • Harry Sommers, D.E. Castles, D.G. Kelly and William L. Mallon, who during World War II,
    with no new cars being made for four years, found innovative ways to hold NADA together while helping to supply mechanics and other dealership personnel for the war effort.
  • William E. Hancock Jr., who during his 1975 term, amid the nation’s first energy crisis, helped get a national energy policy signed into law and saw the creation of the NADA Dealers Election Action Committee.

Of course, this barely scratches the surface regarding the leaders who held NADA’s No. 1 position (a complete list follows on page 69).


And let’s not forget the dedicated staff chiefs, who have kept the organization going on a day-to-day basis. The longest serving was Frank E. McCarthy (33 years), first as executive vice president before that title was changed to president in 1998. Then came Phillip D. Brady (11 years) and, for the past four years, Peter K. Welch.

For the list of NADA leaders and their pics, go to nada.org/nadaleadership. Download the NADA100 Convention Magazine at: nada.org/convmag


NADA Past Presidents

1917 George W. Browne* Milwaukee, Wis.

1918, 1919 Fred W.A. Vesper* St. Louis, Mo.

1919 Thomas J. Hay* (three days) Chicago, Ill.

1920 Harry B. Harper* Rosemont, Pa.

1921 Jesse A. Smith* Milwaukee, Wis.

1922 W.J. Brace* Kansas City, Mo.

1923 G.G.G. Peckham* Cleveland, Ohio

1924 John L. Butler* Los Angeles, Calif.

1925 Charles E. Gambill* San Marino, Calif.

1926 Charles B. Warren* New York, N.Y.

1927 William L. Hughson* San Francisco, Calif.

1928 C.C. Coddington* Charlotte, N.C.

1929 Warren E. Griffith* San Francisco, Calif.

1930 J.R. Histed* Beverly Hills, Calif.

1931 F.J. Edwards* Milwaukee, Wis.

1932 Florris Nagelvoort* Seattle, Wash.

1933, 1934, 1935 Fred W.A. Vesper* St. Louis, Mo.

1936, 1937 E.M. Lied* Omaha, Neb.

1938 J.W. Roby* Shreveport, La.

1939, 1940 Stanley H. Horner* Washington, D.C.

1941 L. Clare Cargile* Texarkana, Ark.

1942 Harry Sommers* Atlanta, Ga.

1943 D.E. Castles* St. Louis, Mo.

1944 D.G. Kelly* Grand Forks, N.D.

1945, 1946 William L. Mallon* Newark, N.J.

1947 M.O. Anderson* Seattle, Wash.

1948 Ben T. Wright* Evanston, Ill.

1949 George F. Ziesmer* Mankato, Minn.

1950 Fred L. Haller* Washington, D.C.

1951 R.D. McKay* Wichita, Kan.

1952 J. Saxton Lloyd* Daytona Beach, Fla.

1953 Robert S. Armacost* Kansas City, Mo.

1954 Charles C. Freed* Salt Lake City, Utah

1955 Frank H. Yarnall* Wheeling, Ill.

1956 Carl E. Fribley* Norwich, N.Y.

1957 Frederick M. Sutter* Columbus, Ind.

1958 Dean Chaffin* Bozeman, Mont.

1959 H.L. Galles Jr.* Albuquerque, N.M.

1960 Birkett L. Williams* Cleveland, Ohio

1961 Walter B. Cooper* Fort Collins, Colo.

1962 Thomas F. Abbott Jr.* Fort Worth, Texas

1963 John H. Lander* Atlanta, Ga.

1964 C. Ed Flandro* Pocatello, Idaho

1965 Peter Val Preda* South Burlington, Vt.

1966 S.E. Kossman* Cleveland, Miss.

1967 William E. Voyce Jr.* Baltimore, Md.

1968 Tom A. Williams Sr.* Greensboro, N.C.

1969 Lyman W. Slack* Portland, Ore.

1970 Sam H. White* Houston, Texas

1971 Warren J. McEleney* Clinton, Iowa

1972 Charles J. Whittey* Bismarck, N.D.

1973 John S. Hinckley* Ogden, Utah

1974 Hugh R. Gibson* Mentor, Ohio

1975 William E. Hancock Jr.* Columbia, S.C.

1976 John J. Pohanka Capitol Heights, Md.

1977 Reed T. Draper* Saginaw, Mich.

1978 Robert P. Mallon Tacoma, Wash.

1979 William C. Doenges* Bartlesville, Okla.

1980 George S. Irvin* Denver, Colo.

1981 Wendell H. Miller* Vestal, N.Y.

1982 George W. Lyles* High Point, N.C.

1983 William C. Turnbull* Huntington, W.Va.

1984 James P. Jennings* Glenview, Ill.

1985 William J. Symes* Pasadena, Calif.

1986 James B. Woulfe* Danville, Calif.

1987 James T. Caplinger* Hot Springs, Ark.

1988 Jimmy C. Payton Euless, Texas

1989 Ron Tonkin* Portland, Ore.

1990 Ray Green Jacksonville, Ill.

1991 Frank R. Anderson Jr.* Raleigh, N.C.

1992 Richard E. Strauss Richmond, Va.

1993 James K. Lust Aberdeen, S.D.

1994 William S. Dodge Brunswick, Maine

1995 Leon Edwards Birmingham, Ala.

1996 John P. Peterson* Edina, Minn.

1997 Ramsay H. Gillman* Houston, Texas


NADA Past Chairmen

1998 Paul J. Holloway Greenland, N.H.

1999 James A. Willingham Signal Hill, Calif.

2000 Harold B. Wells* Whiteville, N.C.

2001 Robert J. Maguire Princeton, N.J.

2002 H. Carter Myers III Charlottesville, Va.

2003 Alan C. Starling St. Cloud, Fla.

2004 Charley R. Smith Hobbs, N.M.

2005 Jack Kain Versailles, Ky.

2006 William Bradshaw Greer, S.C.

2007 Dale Willey Lawrence, Kan.

2008 Annette Sykora Levelland, Texas

2009 John P. McEleney Clinton, Iowa

2010 Edward C. Tonkin Portland, Ore.

2011 Stephen W. Wade St. George, Utah

2012 William P. Underriner Billings, Mont.

2013 David W. Westcott Burlington, N.C.

2014 Forrest McConnell III Montgomery, Ala.

2015 William C. Fox Auburn, N.Y.

2016 Jeffrey B. Carlson Glenwood Springs, Colo.

nada.org | JANUARY 2017 NADA Convention Magazine

*In memory