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In Memoriam

November 15, 2010

Bill Jacobs, 55, chairman of the Bill Jacobs Automotive Group, died Sept. 5 after a nearly seven-year battle against cancer.

When Mr. Jacobs bought his father’s Chevrolet store at age 23, he became the youngest large-volume Chevrolet dealer ever appointed by General Motors.

Over the years he built the group into 10 dealerships that employ about 480 people. It now includes Illinois franchises for: BMW, Mini, Volkswagen in Naperville; Land Rover in Hinsdale and Hoffman Estates; Chevrolet, Cadillac, Mazda, Subaru, Kia and Mitsubishi in Jolliet, and Chevrolet in Plainfield. Last year the Bill Jacobs Automotive Group employed about 480 staff and did about $300 million in sales.

Mr. Jacobs also became a noted collector of antique cars that regularly appeared and were sold at major antique auto shows from Pebble Beach, Calif., to Europe. Over the past 25 years, Linda Jacobs, his wife, took on an increasingly active role with these ventures as well as with the dealerships.

Bill Jacobs served on the CATA board of directors from 1999 to 2008. He also served on the National Dealer Councils of BMW, Land Rover and Chevrolet, and was president of the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevrolet Dealers Advertising Group. Also, he was a member of the advisory boards of The Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, Calif.; and The Collier Automobile Museum in Naples, Fla.

Over the years he and his dealerships won many awards. A limited list of those honors includes:

• Time Magazine Quality Dealer of the Year Award 
• General Motors Jack Smith Award
• Ford Motor Company Dealer of Excellence, Mazda
• Ford Motor Company Dealer of Excellence, Land Rover
• Land Rover President’s Cabinet
• Chevrolet Genuine Leader Award
• Cadillac Genuine Leader Award
• For 10 consecutive years the Bill Jacobs Group was recognized by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for raising the most funds of any BMW dealership in the United States.

In a statement, his wife and business partners said: "Just as the Bill Jacobs Auto Group has thrived — even in this difficult economy and for the years since Bill’s diagnosis — we look forward to meeting and greeting Bill Jacob’s customers and industry friends as we remember this wonderful man and continue his tradition of excellence in our dealerships."

Survivors include his wife, Linda; sons William III, Kevin, Maximilian, and Clayton; and mother, Jeanne.

Memorials appreciated to the Rush Neurobehavioral Center, 4711 W. Golf Rd. Suite 1100, Skokie IL 60076, or to the University of Arizona Foundation Cancer Center at UAF/Arizona Cancer Center, 1515 N. Campbell Ave, Box 245013, Tucson, AZ 85724.