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April 3, 2018 10:15 AM, EDT

Bill England, Former C.R. England Executive, Dies

Bill England, a former top executive at C.R. England Inc., died March 28 after a long illness. He was 95.

Bill and his brother, Gene England, joined their father, Chester R. England, to start hauling produce in 1946. Beginning with one truck, they built the business into what is the nation’s largest refrigerated truckload carrier and one of the largest family-owned trucking companies in the United States.

Bill England

England

American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear paid homage to the trucking pioneer. 

"Bill England's legacy in our industry cannot be overstated, and the company he built is a testament to his vision and years of commitment," he said. "We are saddened by his passing and send our thoughts and prayers to the entire England family at this difficult time."

C.R. England ranks No. 26 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of largest for-hire carriers in North America with annual revenue of $1.3 billion and a fleet of more than 4,500 tractors and nearly 6,000 trailers.

Bill and Gene effectively ran the business from the mid-1950s, when their father decided to leave the company to buy a lumber yard in Ogden, Utah, and later became a prominent homebuilder, until the 1980s, when the next generation of family members stepped in.

“They were joined at the hip,” recalls Gene’s son, Dan England, who would become CEO of C.R. England Inc., and whose four sons operate the business.

Dan recalls that one of the pioneering services offered by the company during Bill and Gene’s tenure was 72-hour delivery of produce from the West Coast to the East Coast using a team of drivers.

After turning over ownership of the company in 2005, Bill’s health deteriorated because of complications from a lifelong battle with diabetes. Gene, who is 98, remains in good health and is a frequent visitor to the C.R. England corporate office in Salt Lake City, according to company spokesman Dave Allred.

Although diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while serving in the Army Air Corps and eventually losing his vision, Allred said Bill never lost his lust for life.

“He always had a smile on his face and he made you feel like a friend at first meeting,” Allred told Transport Topics. “I was visiting him a month ago at his house, and he was in great spirits … telling me stories about driving trucks in the 1940s and 1950s.”

Bill served on the Utah Trucking Association board of directors and was elected president of the association from 1980 to 1982. He also served for many years on the board of American Trucking Associations, participating in policy committes on communications and image, and technology and engineering. Along with Gene, Bill was a major contributor to the University of Utah and was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as a mentor for young adults and children.

“They were a tremendous tandem,” Utah Trucking Association Executive Director Rick Clasby said of Bill and Gene. “Bill was a supporter of political activity and was quite concerned about overregulation and taxation issues. Gene loved to drive and probably wishes he still could.”

Both men helped finance the construction a new office building for the Utah Trucking Association in 2014.

Bill is survived by his wife, Fern, and daughters Sandra Okland, Debbie Nelson and Robin Cannon, plus 16 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren.