NAAA Recognizes Five Contributors to Auction Industry
At its 54th annual convention in New York City on Sept. 10-14, the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) honored five outstanding professionals for noteworthy contributions to their industry and country. Ruth Hart Stephens was included in the Auction Hall of Fame for business success and industry leadership. Stephens and her husband, Homer, started Cooksville Auto Auction in Toronto, Canada, in 1964. They quickly expanded the business and changed its name to Toronto Auto Auction in 1969. Although it was sold to Manheim Auctions in 1983, they continued to manage the business. Stephens and son, Brad Hart, remain in charge of the auction today. Stephens served as the first female and first Canadian president of NAAA in 1994 – a position once held by Homer – making Ruth and Homer NAAA’s first husband and wife presidents. Ken Widmeyer was named to the Industry Hall of Fame for contributions made throughout his 37-year career in sales and marketing for Ford Motor Company. Widmeyer was a longtime supporter of the remarketing industry and auction process. Prior to his retirement last January, Widmeyer handled Ford’s remarketing for the entire region west of the Mississippi. Chuck Roop received the Bernie Hart Auctioneer of the Year trophy. Roop graduated from the Reppert School of Auctioneering in 1949 and has been auctioning ever since. Roop has worked heavily around the Northeast, at major auto auctions from Massachusetts to Virginia. He was an auctioneer and trainer for Manheim (PA) Auto Auction from 1956 to 1995, and now works for Harrisburg (PA) Auto Auction. Betty Murray was honored with the Pioneer Award, which acknowledges those who contributed to the past success and reputation of the industry and the NAAA. Murray and husband, Peter, started Northway Exchange Auto Auction in Clifford Park, NY, in 1965 and Newburgh (NY) Auto Auction in 1985. After Pete died in an airplane accident, Betty ran Northway on her own until it was purchased by Manheim Auctions in 1991. Lynda Thomas, publisher of Used Car News, accepted the Chuck Thomas Memorial Award plaque for her husband, Charles Thomas, who passed away last February. In 1995, Charles Thomas founded Used Car News, a bimonthly international newspaper that covers the $16 billion used car industry. Under his leadership, the publication’s circulation grew to 60,000.