Bob Mallon, longtime Washington-state Ford dealer and former president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, died in Tacoma on Thursday. He was 83.
Mallon died of lung cancer in his home, his son told The News Tribune on Saturday.
The University of Notre Dame graduate began working at his father's Ford dealership, Mallon Ford, after serving in the U.S. Army, and became general manager in 1961. He was president of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association in 1966 and 1967.
In 1967, he received the association's Dealer of the Year award, which now bears his name.
Though he became president of the National Automobile Dealers Association in 1978, Mallon's most notable accomplishment came to fruition three years prior, when he established the NADA Foundation.
Mallon was head of a special committee when he had an idea for a way to provide assistance to dealers after a disaster.
"It occurred to me and our committee that a national foundation might be a more effective way to serve, and it would also serve as a conduit for dealers to get the public recognition they deserved," Mallon told Automotive News in 2011.
The foundation has raised more than $13 million in dealer contributions since its inception, and has donated the money to educational, health care and emergency-relief programs across the country.
"He left a permanent mark on the retail-auto industry and with his fellow dealers,” said NADA President Peter Welch in a statement, who added that Mallon was a true gentleman. “We cannot overstate the important place he held for nearly half of NADA’s 100 years in existence."
For dealers in more immediate need, the Emergency Relief Fund was established in 1992 to help dealership employees after emergencies and natural disasters. It has since assisted more than 9,500 dealership families. The fund also provided scholarship grants to 139 spouses and children of victims of the 9/11 terrorism attacks.
Though he retired as a dealer, Mallon continued in his role as the foundation's board chairman, a position he had held since the foundation's inception. He also was the NADA director for Washington state for 30 years.
Mallon Ford was purchased by the Titus-Will dealership group in 2001.
Vicki Fabre, executive vice president of Washington State Automobile Dealers Association, said in an email that it was a gift and privilege to know Mallon.
"In Washington State not only was Bob a tireless advocate for dealers and the franchise system, but a widely recognized and respected visionary, a titan of a humanitarian for his lifelong work with the NADCF," she said. "His passing has left a deep hole in our hearts.”