William Kistler "Bill" Coors (born August 11, 1916) is a grandson of Adolph Coors (1847-1929), founder of the Coors Brewing Company. He has been affiliated with the company for 64 years, and was a board member from 1973 to 2003. He turned 100 in August 2016.
Born in Colorado on August 11, 1916, he was the son of Adolph Coors II and Alice Kistler May (1885-1970), and the brother of Adolph Coors III (1916–60) and Joseph Coors Sr. (1917-2003). Coors earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1938, and a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1939.
Coors had three daughters with his first wife Geraldine, who suffered from alcoholism and died of illness. William remarried in the 1960s. He and his wife, Phyllis, have one son, Scott. Coors' oldest daughter Geraldine committed suicide August 5, 1983 at the age of 40 after suffering from depression.
William Coors entered the family business as a chemical engineer for Coors Brewing Company.
Coors was respected in the industry for his ability in packaging, bottling, and engineering. He is credited with pioneering the recyclable two-piece aluminum can, which is now standard throughout the industry. In the 1950s, Coors requested $250,000 from his father, CEO Adolph Coors, Jr., to build an experimental line of aluminum cans. By the early 1960s, can recycling was viable, and the company offered customers a one-cent deposit on returned cans.
Coors was elected to the board of directors in 1973. When the non-brewing assets (e.g., Coors Ceramics Co.) of Adolph Coors Co. were spun off in 1992 as ACX Technologies Inc., Bill Coors served as chairman of both companies.
In 2003, at the age of 87, Coors retired from the boards of the Adolph Coors Company and the Coors Brewing Company, although he remained with the company as chief technical adviser.
William Coors' political views are considered more moderate and less outspoken than his brother Joe's. For example, Joe's public opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment earned the company the ire of feminist groups, even though William was on record supporting the amendment.
Accusations of racism
Coors was criticized for remarks he made on February 23, 1984, in a seminar held by the Minority Business Development Center in Denver. In off-the-cuff remarks, he stated that "...ancestors were dragged here in chains against their will… I would urge those of you who feel that way to go back to where your ancestors came from, and you will find out that probably the greatest favor that anybody ever did you was to drag your ancestors over here in chains, and I mean it." He also remarked Africa's economic problems stemmed from "a lack of intellectual capacity."
Coors apologized in a press conference the next day for his "unfortunate choice of words and lack of sensitivity," and said he hoped his commitment to minority groups spoke louder than his words. He stated that his words were taken out of context by the Rocky Mountain News, which he later sued for libel. A number of people who attended the speech reported that the remarks were not considered offensive. In 1987, Coors dropped his libel suit after the Rocky Mountain News printed an article commending Coors' good record with the minority community, and expressing regret for the headline over the February 24, 1984 article.
An informal boycott of Coors was announced by the NAACP during a March 2 meeting in Los Angeles. At the time, the AFL-CIO had been boycotting the company for seven years over a labor dispute. At least 500 liquor stores in Southern California joined the NAACP boycott, which was suspended five days later when they reached an agreement with the company. In September, the Adolph Coors Company signed an agreement with Operation PUSH and the NAACP to invest $325 million into black communities over five years, to deposit millions of operating capital in black-owned banks, and to spend $8.8 million on advertising in black-owned media. In October, the company negotiated a similar agreement with American GI Forum and La Raza for $300 million. This was the first ever such arrangement between La Raza and any corporation.
- President - Coors Brewing Company
- Chairman - Coors Brewing Company
- President - Castle Rock Foundation
- Founding Member - The Future 500
- Honorary Chairman - SEED
- Trustee - Colorado School of Mines
- Jay Brooks (2016-08-11). "Historic Beer Birthday: William K. "Bill" Coors". Brookston Beer Bulletin. Retrieved 2016-08-13.
- Bartell Nyberg (1990-05-20). "King of Coors: Brewer Climbs to No. 3 With Bill Coors at Helm". Denver Post. p. G1.
- Bella Stumbo (1988-09-18). "Brewing Controversy—Coors Clan: Doing It Their Way Series: First of two parts". Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
- "Gay director plays havoc with 'all-US' beer dynasty: Traditional firm encounters problems with its image". The Observer (London). 2001-07-21. p. 23.
- "William Coors Sets Retirement". Denver Post. 2003-05-17. p. 1.
- Don Williamson (1984-03-12). "Calls for Coors boycott echo again after speech to blacks brews a storm". The San Diego Union. p. B3.
- Kathleen Teltsch (1984-04-26). "Fight Over Coors's Role Upsets Foundation Parley". New York Times. p. A18.
- Paul Richter (1987-09-27). "Coors' New Brew: Taking Out the Political Aftertaste". Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
- Associated Press (1984-10-30). "Coors Beer to Assist Hispanics". Boston Globe. p. 68.
- Iver Peterson (1984-12-02). "Making Big Business A Threat It Can't Refuse". New York Times. p. A10.
- Baum, Dan. Citizen Coors: A Grand Family Saga of Business, Politics, and Beer. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. ISBN 0-688-15448-4
- Jett, Philip. The Death of an Heir: Adolph Coors III and the Murder That Rocked an American Brewing Dynasty New York: St. Martin's Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1250111807