TYSONS, Va. — Robert P. Mallon, former president of the National Automobile Dealers Association and chairman emeritus of the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation, died on August 3. He was 83.
Mallon served on NADA’s board of directors representing franchised new-car and -truck dealers in the state of Washington from 1972-2002, and was elected NADA president in 1978. He is the former president of Mallon Ford, Inc. in Tacoma, Wash.
“As a dealer, a NADA director and now chairman of NADA, I’m honored to have worked with Bob Mallon over the years,” said 2017 NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli. “Bob’s legacy lives on in our dealer community. His passion and dedication to the automobile business was unwavering through his decades-long service to advancing dealers and the goodwill that they do every day in their businesses.”
In 1975, Mallon established the foundation and served as its first chairman. He was the driving force behind creating the NADA programs that have donated millions of dollars in charitable grants to individuals and organizations across the country.
Mallon, a second-generation dealer, was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1933. It was the same year his father, Tommy Mallon, took over the Ford franchise in Tacoma, after climbing the dealership ranks for 17 years working in numerous positions in the service and sales departments.
“From the time Bob Mallon became an automobile dealer in 1958 in his beloved hometown of Tacoma, to serving on NADA’s board and leading the association as president, he left a permanent mark on the retail-auto industry and with his fellow dealers,” said NADA President and CEO Peter Welch. “We cannot overstate the important place he held for nearly half of NADA’s 100 years in existence.
“As a pioneer, he established the NADA Foundation and was instrumental in the success of the NADA PAC Presidents Club,” Welch added. “He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed.”
Along with guidance from the NADA Foundation’s board of trustees, Mallon established numerous charitable programs, which include:
- Ambassadors Program: Established in 1994, individual Ambassadors collectively donate more than $250,000 in grants each year to organizations in their local communities.
- Emergency Relief Fund: More than $6 million has been distributed to 9,200 dealership employees across the country since 1992.
- Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Fund: More than $250,000 in grants has been donated to Canine Companions for Independence, which provides trained service dogs to wounded veterans and children with disabilities.
- Medical Grants: Through the support of dealer groups across the country, more than 4,800 CPR training units have been donated to local organizations.
- Memorial Funds: Since 1985, nearly $600,000 in college scholarships has been awarded to students through the Joseph J. Sanchez and John P. Winston memorial funds.
- Survivors Relief Fund: More than $780,000 in scholarships has been provided to 139 children of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Mallon also established the NADA Foundation’s International Freedom of Mobility Award in 1977. The award was presented each year to recognize an individual who preserved, protected and promoted personal freedom of mobility. The program was discontinued in 2001.
“I feel as if I could write a book about all my memories of encounters with the legendary Robert P. Mallon,” said Annette Sykora, current chairman of the NADA Foundation. “Utilizing his persuasive talents, he inspired the formation of the NADA Foundation.
“With determination, he presided over and fostered the growth of our NADA Foundation for 40 years,” added Sykora, who served as NADA chairman in 2008. “His kind heart, passion for our industry and genuine friendship will be greatly missed.”
Mallon also served as president of the Washington State Automobile Dealers Association from 1966-1967. He received its prestigious Dealer of the Year award in 1967, an award that now bears his name. It is presented in recognition of a dealer’s contribution to the auto industry, quality dealership operations and community service.
“It was a supreme gift and privilege to know Bob,” said Vicki Fabre, WSADA executive vice president. “He has left an indelible mark on our lives and the industry he loved.”
In 2014, WSADA’s office building in Renton, Wash., was named in Mallon’s honor in recognition of his many contributions to the auto industry.
“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 NADA Foundation,” added Fabre. “His passing has left a deep hole in our hearts.”
Mallon was the 1970 nominee for the national TIME Dealer of the Year award representing dealers in Washington state.
He served as chairman of the board of trustees of Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., from 1985-1990. He is a past district governor of Rotary International and has chaired many governing boards within the Tacoma metropolitan area.
This year, Mallon received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Saint Martin's University. In 2004, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumni (1951 high school graduate) by Saint Martin's University for professional achievement and service to the school. In 1997, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., for his contributions to the industry, chairmanship of the Automotive Hall of Fame in Midland, Mich., from 1988-1992, and community service.
Mallon was a 1955 graduate of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.