Bill Daniels believed deeply in ethics and integrity, and the importance of absolute ethical principles. As an exceptionally honest and fair businessman, he always based his decisions on what he believed was right — not on what he thought was best for himself or his company. This attitude and style of conducting business earned Bill Daniels incredible respect and loyalty throughout the business world.
Born in Greeley, Colorado in 1920, Bill spent his early childhood in Omaha, Nebraska and later, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. As his family struggled through the Great Depression, many of Bill’s values related to work and personal responsibility were formed.
Bill began his business career by opening an insurance agency in Casper, Wyoming. On a drive home after visiting family in New Mexico, Bill stopped for lunch in Denver. A boxing match flickered on a small black and white screen behind the bar. It was Bill’s first encounter with television, and he was captivated. He learned that many small towns — including Casper — did not have access to TV. As a result, Bill started building Casper’s first cable system in 1952.
As one of the earliest pioneers in cable TV, Bill owned and operated hundreds of systems across the country. The firm he founded, Daniels & Associates, operated these properties and brokered many of the deals that shaped the industry. Bill’s leadership attracted many technology and communications companies to the area, making Denver the recognized “cable capital of the world.”
An avid sports fan, Bill was one of the first in his industry to focus on generating sports programming, clearing the way for today’s regional sports networks. He sponsored a number of professional boxers, served as president of the American Basketball Association, was a founder of the United States Football League, and was an owner of professional sports teams, including the Utah Stars and the Los Angeles Lakers.
When the Utah Stars team was forced into bankruptcy in 1975 as the league unraveled, Bill’s financial obligations were legally discharged. Despite this, he returned to Salt Lake City five years later and repaid every season ticket holder, vendor, player, and employee — with 8% interest per year — at a personal cost of more than $750,000. To show their appreciation, the people of Utah named Bill Daniels the first inductee into the Utah Sports Legends Hall of Fame.
Bill also provided significant support to innovative education efforts. Recognizing the value of learning financial responsibility at a young age, he founded Young Americans Bank in 1987. It remains the world’s only chartered bank exclusively for kids.
During the course of his life, the respect Bill earned for his achievements in business was matched by the admiration generated by his philanthropy. Bill believed that successful people should maintain compassion for those in need. He also emphasized that for those capable of overcoming their circumstances, his help was not a hand-out, but a hand-up.
Bill’s concern for those in need, and the organizations that help them, motivated his personal involvement. He did more than just sign checks — he spent time with people facing life’s challenges and wanted to understand their situations. While money was an important part of his contributions, his visible support of charitable causes also served as an inspiration for others. He was devoted to helping our most vulnerable or disadvantaged neighbors achieve happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
Bill spent his final years planning the Daniels Fund, and providing the specific direction that guides its operation. When he passed away in 2000, Bill’s estate transferred to the Daniels Fund, forming its base of assets and making it one of the largest foundations in the Rocky Mountain region.
The Daniels Fund continues Bill Daniels’ legacy of compassion and generosity by providing grants to outstanding universities and nonprofit organizations, and scholarships to deserving students, in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.