Bill Daniels

A man of compassion, ethics, and integrity,
and the single source of our capacity to give

“When you put your life into 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



















“When you put your life into 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 Timeline


Swipe left or right or click the dots for details about important milestones in Bill's extraordinary life. For a better timeline experience, rotate your device to landscape mode.

Bill Daniels with his mother, Adele.

1920

Bill Daniels is born on July 1, 1920 in Greeley, Colorado.


1937

Bill's parents enroll him in New Mexico Military Institute. He enters the school an unruly teen and emerges as a young leader with an understanding of the value of discipline.

1939

Bill becomes a two-time New Mexico Golden Gloves Boxing champion.

1941

Bill Daniels enters World War II as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot.

1944

Bill makes repeated trips into burning wreckage to rescue wounded shipmates after a devastating enemy attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. He is awarded the Bronze Star for “heroism, courage, and devotion to duty”

1950

Bill returns to the U.S. Navy as a pilot in the Korean Conflict. He is instrumental in training Navy pilots during their transition to jet aircraft. He was a highly decorated commander by the end of his service.

1952

Bill Daniels sees television for the first time in Denver.

1954

Bill Daniels opens his first cable television system on January 1, 1954 in Casper, Wyoming.

1958

Bill founds Daniels & Associates to operate cable systems and provide financial advisory services to cable operators.

1960s

Bill continues to build his business through struggles and successes, ultimately owning hundreds of cable systems and brokering deals that shape the industry.

1971

Bill brings Utah its first professional sports team, the Utah Stars, which win the American Basketball Association championship in 1971. The team was forced into bankruptcy in 1975 as the league unraveled. Although Bill’s financial obligations were legally discharged, he returned to Salt Lake City five years later and repaid every season ticket holder, vendor, player, and employee – with 8% interest.

1974

Bill runs for governor of Colorado, but loses in the Republican Party primary.

1980

Bill helps Ted Turner raise money to launch CNN and becomes the second largest shareholder in Turner Broadcasting Systems.

Bill Daniels with LA Express helmet

1982

Bill becomes one of the founding owners of the United States Football League, launching the LA Express as co-owner.

1985

Bill enters rehab at the Betty Ford Center after struggling with alcoholism much of his life. He was able to maintain sobriety, and talked openly about his battle with addiction, encouraged (and paying for) others to seek treatment. His experience inspired him to direct the Daniels Fund to support organizations that help people suffering from addiction.

1985

Bill Launches one of the nation's first regional sports networks, Prime Ticket Network, to broadcast L.A. Lakers and Kings games. With this deal, he becomes part owner of the Lakers.

1987

Bill Daniels launches Young Americans Bank, the world's only bank exclusively for kids, to help teach young people financial literacy.

Daniels cuts $190 million cable deal newspaper article

1988

Bill sells the majority of his cable operating systems to United Artists, allowing him to focus on the advisory and sports programming businesses.

1988

Bill makes his first of two major donations to the University of Denver, totalling $21 million, to incorporate ethics into the business cirriculum.

Downtown Grand Prix a unique event for Denver - newspaper article

1990

Bill helps bring the Grand Prix in 1990 and 1991. Although he lost $6 million the first year, he supported a second year at $4 million so vendors and investors, including the City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado, could recover their investments.

1994

The University of Denver renames the Daniels College of Business in Bill's honor.

Bill Daniels with flight crew

1996

Bill and his crew set a new round-the-world speed record for a business class jet, with Bill's plane, Cablevision Tool.

1996

Bill Daniels begins planning for his legacy, the Daniels Fund.

2000

Bill Daniels passes away on March 7, 2000. He leaves $1.1 billion to the Daniels Fund to carry on his legacy of generosity. The Daniels Fund awards its first grants and scholarships that year.

Bill Daniels 100 years, Daniels Fund 20 years

The Daniels Fund marks its 20th anniversary and what would have been Bill's 100th birthday. In its first 20 years, the Daniels Fund has distributed more than $877.6 million in grants and scholarships.

  • Bill Daniels with his mother, Adele.

    1920

    Bill Daniels is born on July 1, 1920 in Greeley, Colorado.


  • 1937

    Bill's parents enroll him in New Mexico Military Institute. He enters the school an unruly teen and emerges as a young leader with an understanding of the value of discipline.

  • 1939

    Bill becomes a two-time New Mexico Golden Gloves Boxing champion.

  • 1941

    Bill Daniels enters World War II as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot.

  • 1944

    Bill makes repeated trips into burning wreckage to rescue wounded shipmates after a devastating enemy attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. He is awarded the Bronze Star for “heroism, courage, and devotion to duty”

  • 1950

    Bill returns to the U.S. Navy as a pilot in the Korean Conflict. He is instrumental in training Navy pilots during their transition to jet aircraft. He was a highly decorated commander by the end of his service.

  • 1952

    Bill Daniels sees television for the first time in Denver.

  • 1954

    Bill Daniels opens his first cable television system on January 1, 1954 in Casper, Wyoming.

  • 1958

    Bill founds Daniels & Associates to operate cable systems and provide financial advisory services to cable operators.

  • 1960s

    Bill continues to build his business through struggles and successes, ultimately owning hundreds of cable systems and brokering deals that shape the industry.

  • 1971

    Bill brings Utah its first professional sports team, the Utah Stars, which win the American Basketball Association championship in 1971. The team was forced into bankruptcy in 1975 as the league unraveled. Although Bill’s financial obligations were legally discharged, he returned to Salt Lake City five years later and repaid every season ticket holder, vendor, player, and employee – with 8% interest.

  • 1974

    Bill runs for governor of Colorado, but loses in the Republican Party primary.

  • 1980

    Bill helps Ted Turner raise money to launch CNN and becomes the second largest shareholder in Turner Broadcasting Systems.

  • Bill Daniels with LA Express helmet

    1982

    Bill becomes one of the founding owners of the United States Football League, launching the LA Express as co-owner.

  • 1985

    Bill enters rehab at the Betty Ford Center after struggling with alcoholism much of his life. He was able to maintain sobriety, and talked openly about his battle with addiction, encouraged (and paying for) others to seek treatment. His experience inspired him to direct the Daniels Fund to support organizations that help people suffering from addiction.

  • 1985

    Bill Launches one of the nation's first regional sports networks, Prime Ticket Network, to broadcast L.A. Lakers and Kings games. With this deal, he becomes part owner of the Lakers.

  • 1987

    Bill Daniels launches Young Americans Bank, the world's only bank exclusively for kids, to help teach young people financial literacy.

  • Daniels cuts $190 million cable deal newspaper article

    1988

    Bill sells the majority of his cable operating systems to United Artists, allowing him to focus on the advisory and sports programming businesses.

  • 1988

    Bill makes his first of two major donations to the University of Denver, totalling $21 million, to incorporate ethics into the business cirriculum.

  • Downtown Grand Prix a unique event for Denver - newspaper article

    1990

    Bill helps bring the Grand Prix in 1990 and 1991. Although he lost $6 million the first year, he supported a second year at $4 million so vendors and investors, including the City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado, could recover their investments.

  • 1994

    The University of Denver renames the Daniels College of Business in Bill's honor.

  • Bill Daniels with flight crew

    1996

    Bill and his crew set a new round-the-world speed record for a business class jet, with Bill's plane, Cablevision Tool.

  • 1996

    Bill Daniels begins planning for his legacy, the Daniels Fund.

  • 2000

    Bill Daniels passes away on March 7, 2000. He leaves $1.1 billion to the Daniels Fund to carry on his legacy of generosity. The Daniels Fund awards its first grants and scholarships that year.

  • Bill Daniels 100 years, Daniels Fund 20 years

    The Daniels Fund marks its 20th anniversary and what would have been Bill's 100th birthday. In its first 20 years, the Daniels Fund has distributed more than $877.6 million in grants and scholarships.

Bill Daniels Timeline


Click the plus signs below for details about important milestones in Bill's extraordinary life.

Bill runs for governor of Colorado, but loses in the Republican Party primary.

Bill brings Utah its first professional sports team, the Utah Stars, which win the American Basketball Association championship in 1971. The team was forced into bankruptcy in 1975 as the league unraveled. Although Bill’s financial obligations were legally discharged, he returned to Salt Lake City five years later and repaid every season ticket holder, vendor, player, and employee – with 8% interest.

Bill continues to build his business through struggles and successes, ultimately owning hundreds of cable systems and brokering deals that shape the industry.

Bill founds Daniels & Associates to operate cable systems and provide financial advisory services to cable operators.

Bill Daniels opens his first cable television system on January 1, 1954 in Casper, Wyoming.

Bill Daniels sees television for the first time in Denver.

Bill returns to the U.S. Navy as a pilot in the Korean Conflict. He is instrumental in training Navy pilots during their transition to jet aircraft. He was a highly decorated commander by the end of his service.

Bill makes repeated trips into burning wreckage to rescue wounded shipmates after a devastating enemy attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. He is awarded the Bronze Star for “heroism, courage, and devotion to duty”

Bill Daniels enters World War II as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot.

Bill becomes a two-time New Mexico Golden Gloves Boxing champion.


Bill's parents enroll him in New Mexico Military Institute. He enters the school an unruly teen and emerges as a young leader with an understanding of the value of discipline.

Bill Daniels with his mother, Adele.

Bill Daniels is born on July 1, 1920 in Greeley, Colorado.

  • Bill runs for governor of Colorado, but loses in the Republican Party primary.

  • Bill brings Utah its first professional sports team, the Utah Stars, which win the American Basketball Association championship in 1971. The team was forced into bankruptcy in 1975 as the league unraveled. Although Bill’s financial obligations were legally discharged, he returned to Salt Lake City five years later and repaid every season ticket holder, vendor, player, and employee – with 8% interest.

  • Bill continues to build his business through struggles and successes, ultimately owning hundreds of cable systems and brokering deals that shape the industry.

  • Bill founds Daniels & Associates to operate cable systems and provide financial advisory services to cable operators.

  • Bill Daniels opens his first cable television system on January 1, 1954 in Casper, Wyoming.

  • Bill Daniels sees television for the first time in Denver.

  • Bill returns to the U.S. Navy as a pilot in the Korean Conflict. He is instrumental in training Navy pilots during their transition to jet aircraft. He was a highly decorated commander by the end of his service.

  • Bill makes repeated trips into burning wreckage to rescue wounded shipmates after a devastating enemy attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. He is awarded the Bronze Star for “heroism, courage, and devotion to duty”

  • Bill Daniels enters World War II as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot.

  • Bill becomes a two-time New Mexico Golden Gloves Boxing champion.


  • Bill's parents enroll him in New Mexico Military Institute. He enters the school an unruly teen and emerges as a young leader with an understanding of the value of discipline.

  • Bill Daniels with his mother, Adele.

    Bill Daniels is born on July 1, 1920 in Greeley, Colorado.

The Daniels Fund marks its 20th anniversary and what would have been Bill's 100th birthday. In its first 20 years, the Daniels Fund has distributed more than $877.6 million in grants and scholarships.


Bill Daniels passes away on March 7, 2000. He leaves $1.1 billion to the Daniels Fund to carry on his legacy of generosity. The Daniels Fund awards its first grants and scholarships that year.

Bill Daniels begins planning for his legacy, the Daniels Fund.

Bill and his crew set a new round-the-world speed record for a business class jet, with Bill's plane, Cablevision Tool.


The University of Denver renames the Daniels College of Business in Bill's honor.

Grand Prix article

Bill helps bring the Grand Prix in 1990 and 1991. Although he lost $6 million the first year, he supported a second year at $4 million so vendors and investors, including the City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado, could recover their investments.

Bill makes his first of two major donations to the University of Denver, totalling $21 million, to incorporate ethics into the business cirriculum.

Daniels-United Artists Deal Article

Bill sells the majority of his cable operating systems to United Artists, allowing him to focus on the advisory and sports programming businesses.

Bill Daniels launches Young Americans Bank, the world's only bank exclusively for kids, to help teach young people financial literacy.

Bill Launches one of the nation's first regional sports networks, Prime Ticket Network, to broadcast L.A. Lakers and Kings games. With this deal, he becomes part owner of the Lakers.

Bill enters rehab at the Betty Ford Center after struggling with alcoholism much of his life. He was able to maintain sobriety, and talked openly about his battle with addiction, encouraged (and paying for) others to seek treatment. His experience inspired him to direct the Daniels Fund to support organizations that help people suffering from addiction.

Bill Daniels holding LA Express football helmet

Bill becomes one of the founding owners of the United States Football League, launching the LA Express as co-owner.

Bill helps Ted Turner raise money to launch CNN and becomes the second largest shareholder in Turner Broadcasting Systems.

  • The Daniels Fund marks its 20th anniversary and what would have been Bill's 100th birthday. In its first 20 years, the Daniels Fund has distributed more than $877.6 million in grants and scholarships.


  • Bill Daniels passes away on March 7, 2000. He leaves $1.1 billion to the Daniels Fund to carry on his legacy of generosity. The Daniels Fund awards its first grants and scholarships that year.

  • Bill Daniels begins planning for his legacy, the Daniels Fund.

  • Bill and his crew set a new round-the-world speed record for a business class jet, with Bill's plane, Cablevision Tool.


  • The University of Denver renames the Daniels College of Business in Bill's honor.

  • Grand Prix article

    Bill helps bring the Grand Prix in 1990 and 1991. Although he lost $6 million the first year, he supported a second year at $4 million so vendors and investors, including the City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado, could recover their investments.

  • Bill makes his first of two major donations to the University of Denver, totalling $21 million, to incorporate ethics into the business cirriculum.

  • Daniels-United Artists Deal Article

    Bill sells the majority of his cable operating systems to United Artists, allowing him to focus on the advisory and sports programming businesses.

  • Bill Daniels launches Young Americans Bank, the world's only bank exclusively for kids, to help teach young people financial literacy.

  • Bill Launches one of the nation's first regional sports networks, Prime Ticket Network, to broadcast L.A. Lakers and Kings games. With this deal, he becomes part owner of the Lakers.

  • Bill enters rehab at the Betty Ford Center after struggling with alcoholism much of his life. He was able to maintain sobriety, and talked openly about his battle with addiction, encouraged (and paying for) others to seek treatment. His experience inspired him to direct the Daniels Fund to support organizations that help people suffering from addiction.

  • Bill Daniels holding LA Express football helmet

    Bill becomes one of the founding owners of the United States Football League, launching the LA Express as co-owner.

  • Bill helps Ted Turner raise money to launch CNN and becomes the second largest shareholder in Turner Broadcasting Systems.

Bill Daniels Biography

 

Bill Daniels was a born entrepreneur, widely considered one of the great business visionaries of the twentieth century. Bill achieved phenomenal success by working hard, passionately following his instincts, acting with ethics and integrity, and treating everyone around him with respect and fairness. His word was known to be as solid as any contract. His brilliance in business was matched by his sincere compassion for people and the desire to help those in need. In many ways, Bill Daniels truly was, "larger than life".

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. When Bill was a teenager, his family moved to Hobbs, New Mexico. Bill was driven and popular, but his unruly nature prompted his parents to enroll him in the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in nearby Roswell. Initially reluctant, he quickly embraced cadet life. He was a natural athlete and developed remarkable leadership skills. For two years running, he was New Mexico's Golden Gloves champion. After two years each of high school and college at NMMI, Bill was disciplined and focused, with newfound appreciation for teamwork, etiquette, respect, and the chain of command.

The man Bill had become proved to be a fine naval officer and fearless combat pilot in World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star for "heroism, courage, and devotion to duty" as he made repeated trips to rescue wounded shipmates after a devastating enemy attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. Bill also served during the Korean Conflict. He was instrumental in pilot training for the U.S. Navy during their transition to jet aircraft and retired a decorated Commander.Bill Daniels on fighter plane

Bill began his business career by opening an insurance agency in Casper, Wyoming. Driving home from New Mexico in 1952, 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 many small towns — including Casper — did not have access to TV. As a result, Bill started building Casper's first cable system, which launched January 1, 1954.

As one of the earliest pioneers in cable television, Bill would go on to own and operate 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 Denver, making it the recognized "cable capital of the world".

An avid sports fan, Bill was one of the first in his industry to focus on the production of sports programming, clearing the way for today’s regional sports networks. He sponsored a number of professional boxers, invested in several professional car racing ventures, served as president of the American Basketball Association, was a founder of the United States Football League, and was an owner of pro sports teams, including the Utah Stars, the Los Angeles Express, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Magic Johnson with Bill DanielsLike anyone, Bill was far from perfect. However, he was refreshingly open about his failures and mistakes. Bill struggled with alcoholism for much of his life, but was able to maintain sobriety after receiving treatment at the Betty Ford Center in 1985. His devotion to work contributed to four divorces. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Colorado in 1974. And Bill certainly experienced his share of money losing business ventures and investments on the path to becoming a billionaire.

Over the course of his life, the respect Bill earned for his achievements in business was equaled by the admiration he received as a philanthropist. Bill believed that successful people should maintain compassion for people in need. He also emphasized that for those capable of overcoming their circumstances, his help was not a hand-out, but a hand-up.

Over the years, Bill made countless charitable contributions and supported his community in creative, meaningful ways. With his plane, he set a new round-the-world speed record for business class jets while raising $300,000 for education. He opened his home, Cableland, to fundraising events for nonprofits dozens of times per year, and later donated the house to the City of Denver as its official mayoral residence.

Bill 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. Bill was also concerned that young people were not learning the value of ethics, especially at the college level. He made substantial donations to the University of Denver to incorporate ethics, values, and personal integrity into the business school curriculum. The business school was later renamed the Daniels College of Business in Bill's honor.Bill Daniels with President George H.W. Bush

Bill's concern for those in need, and the organizations that help them, motivated him to be personally involved. 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 inspiration to others. He was devoted to helping his community’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged achieve happier, healthier, and more productive lives.

Bill spent his final years laying plans for the Daniels Fund, and detailing the specific direction that guides its operation. When he passed away in March of 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 across Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming through the Daniels Fund Grants Program, the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program, and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative.

The Life & Legacy of Bill Daniels

While you're here, please enjoy this short video about Bill Daniels' life, created as a companion to The Life & Legacy of Bill Daniels book:
The Life & Legacy of Bill Daniels is the definitive account of Bill Daniels' life, detailing how his values and experiences shaped him and the foundation he established to continue his legacy of generosity.

We invite you to download a free copy of the book, compliments of the Daniels Fund Board of Directors. Download your free copy now.

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