Monday, August 15, 2016

8.15.16 Hero of the Day: Bill Marsh

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on



Name: Bill Marsh
Age: was 80
Occupation: car dealer
Last Seen: in the great yonder
Awarded For: being one of the best car dealers ever in northern Michigan

Long before North Clark was telling people to fill out a credit app so he could send a vee-hickle out to them, Terry Hanks was telling people from all directions to drive all the way to his Chevy ranch in Lansing and the Devos family was sinking their teeth into their chain of Fox Motors dealerships, there was Bill Marsh.

A simpleton from Pennsylvania, Marsh was just 22 when his father's illness persuaded him to quit law school and take over the family Ford dealership in Newtown, PA. Marsh ran the dealership for 24 years when he heard about a failing Buick dealership in Traverse City. He sold the Ford dealership (and thankfully, it's still called Bill Marsh Ford) and took over the Buick dealership.  Within one year, the dealership went from near-failure to being the top car seller in the Cherry Capital.

Bill Marsh Buick was so popular that eventually, they acquired other nameplates in town: Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, RAM, Saturn, GMC and Hyundai. The Marshes also own the Ford/Chrysler/Dodge shop in Kalkaska and once ran a Ford dealership in Honor.

Though Bill Marsh himself rarely made TV appearances, his voice was heard on radio ads for his dealerships on the radio with the tagline ".....and thank you."

In 2005, Marsh sold his dealerships to four of his sons. In the past year, he suffered with Alzheimer's, which took his life last week at age 80.

In the age of here today, gone today car dealers that end up getting swallowed by another nameless dealer, Bill Marsh is simply one of those dealers where there's people who have been there for years and treat their customers like family. My cousin has worked at Marsh's for years and has climbed the ladder there. My grandparents bought their cars there and loved the service. My grandmother owned a 1993 Buick Skylark for many years that I loved. My Dad eventually got it and owned it until he traded it in many years ago.

Of course, there was a controversy late last year when Bill Marsh, Jr. announced that they would no longer donate to the United Way because they supported Planned Parenthood. Marsh, Jr. proclaimed that the family was pro-life and did not appreciate the now-proven false rumors that the organization sold baby parts for profit. Many woman's rights supporters boycotted Marsh, but one pro-choicer lent his support for the family: Michael Moore.

In an interview, Moore - who urged people to donate to the United Way after Marsh's boycott - claimed that he bought his cars from Marsh over the years and still would support them simply because they provided good service.

True, hate the Marsh's for their politics, but love them because they do a good job selling cars. It's a tough decision when you want to choose the lesser of the two evils: a place that treats you like family or agree with your politics. Sometimes it's both, but sometimes it's none. But great service will always prevail. Maybe that's also why people have a hankering for Chick-fil-A, anti-gay politics or not. 

But in the end, I have to say that Bill Marsh and his family treated my family quite well over the years. Rest well, sir.

Got a Bee-otch to nominate? E-mail us @ All suggestions (except for me) are welcome!

Bee-otch of the Day Archives can be seen on!

Bee-otch of the Day is a production of, Grand Rapids' site for Stern, politics and more!

No comments:

Post a Comment