A man dedicated to making life better… one person at a time.
“When you put your life in perspective, you realize how little time there is to make something truly significant out of it. To some people this might mean acquiring a lot of possessions, building a business or owning property. There’s nothing wrong with these aspirations, but for me, they pale in comparison to individuals who want to leave something more consequential as their legacy.” - Bill Daniels
Bill Daniels was one of those remarkable individuals who achieved success through a combination of perseverance and good fortune.
Born in Greeley, Colorado in 1920, Bill lived with his family in Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa as a child. The family moved to Hobbs, New Mexico when Bill was a teenager, and he attended the New Mexico Military Institute in nearby Roswell. As a young man, he was an undefeated Golden Gloves Champion of New Mexico.
In World War II and the Korean conflict, Bill was a naval fighter pilot who retired as Full Commander in the U.S. Navy. After the Navy, he encountered television, was amazed by the technology, and learned many remote cities and towns did not have access to it. He started his first cable business in Casper, Wyoming in 1953.
As one of the pioneers in cable television, Bill went on to own and operate hundreds of cable TV systems across the country. The firm he founded, Daniels & Associates, is nationally recognized as a leading provider of investment banking services to media and technology companies. His leadership helped bring numerous hi-tech and communications companies to the Front Range.
An avid sports fan, Bill was one of the first cable leaders to focus on sports programming, giving impetus to today’s highly popular regional sports networks. He also sponsored heavyweight-boxing champions, served as president of the American Basketball Association, was a founder of the United States Football League, and was an owner of several professional sports teams, including the Utah Stars and a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Bill was widely known and respected for his leadership role in the sports and cable industries, he became equally respected for his humanitarian endeavors. Bill long believed that people fortunate enough to succeed have a responsibility to help others who my not have had the same advantages. As a result, over the years he made countless charitable contributions and gave back to the community in some highly creative and meaningful ways.
Bill helped found Cenikor, a nonprofit rehabilitation center fro drug addicts, alcoholics, and people with criminal behavior problems. With his plane, he set a world speed record for business jets while raising $300,000 for Junior Achievement. He donated his $7 million mansion, Cableland, to the City of Denver as an official residence for future mayors and as a location for hosting charitable events. He was a long-time supporter of several organizations serving young people and those in need in metro Denver.
Among Bill’s most notable philanthropic projects were his pioneering efforts in education. Recognizing the value of learning financial responsibility at a young age, Bill founded the Young Americans Bank in 1987 to provide a full range of banking services to children and young adults. It remains the world’s only chartered bank exclusively for young people.
When the bank became fully operational, Bill turned his attention to another personal concern. He felt greater educational effort, particularly at the college and university level, should be placed on integrity, ethics, and people skills. To help address this concern, he donated more than $20 million to the University of Denver in support of a graduate business school with the requirement that it stress such basic values as honesty, accountability, and community-mindedness. Today, the Daniels College of Business has gained national prominence for its ethics-based curriculum and was recently named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top business schools in the world for producing graduates with high ethical standards.
Bill brought his unique style to all his philanthropic endeavors—a very personal concern and involvement with individuals in need and the organizations that serve them. Bill did more than sign checks—he sought out and interacted with those in need. While money was an important part of his contributions, his visible support of charitable causes also served as a model for others. For Bill, the strength of a community could be measured by the success and happiness of all its citizens. That’s why he devoted so much time and attention to helping disadvantaged members of his community lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives. As he once said, “I am for the underdog, for those in ill health, the homeless, the hungry, for guys who need a second chance.”
Bill established the Daniels Fund in 1997. When he passed away in 2000, his estate transferred to the Fund, making it one of the largest foundations in the Rocky Mountain Region. The Fund operates the Daniels Fund Grants Program, and the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming—states which were near and dear to his heart. Bill was very aware that his success was a result of his relationships within the communities in which he worked.
Throughout his life, Bill enjoyed sharing his good fortune with those who had not received the opportunities and support that he had experienced. The entrepreneurial spirit with which he conducted his business dealings was characteristic of his charitable activities as well. Bill believed in big ideas and second chances; he took risks to help individuals and organizations that many would not have taken. Bill Daniels believed that boundless opportunity can exist for each and every individual. Through his lifetime of generosity and the organizations that carry on his legacy, Bill has ensured that many more individuals will realize their potential.