- Graduate of the Sarah Heinz House and donor
- Founder, Baierl Chevrolet
- Pitt grad, 1951, in Physical Education
- Resides in McCandless
- Wife is Carole
- Deceased April 14, 2007, heart attack at the age of 78
Bill Baierl looks the part of patriarch, a man whose easy smile and hearty laugh belie his towering stature.
At 76, the founder of Baierl Chevrolet in McCandless still works eight hours a day, five days a week and comes in on Saturdays. He oversees seven dealerships and 400 employees.
"I don't know what I'd do (if I retired)" Baierl said. "I'm still smelling the roses."
He is regarded as a giant in the North Hills, and not because of his 6-foot, 3-inch frame. Baierl has donated millions of dollars to UPMC Passavant, the University of Pittsburgh, the Sarah Heinz House, the North Hills YMCA and North Allegheny School District, among others.
"He is just a super person," North Allegheny School District Athletic Director Bob Bozzuto said. "And for as much money as he has donated, there's probably twice as much that people don't see."
Baierl's $7 million gift for a new YMCA in Franklin Park was the largest the YMCA of Pittsburgh had ever received. The new facility, which will open in May, will be called the Baierl Family YMCA because of his donation.
"I'm certainly proud to have that name on our facility," North Hills YMCA Executive Director William Kunert said. "What he has done is amazing. You can't take all your money with you -- he feels an obligation to give it back to the community.
Baierl's interest in helping the YMCA can be traced to his childhood. He was born and raised on the North Side and was a patron at the YMCA there.
"I've maintained that relationship all these years," Baierl said from an expansive office filled with Pitt memorabilia. "It kept us off the street. The YMCA supported the community."
A former Pitt basketball player, Baierl also has been a frequent giver to the university's athletic program.
Baierl is "one of the most genuine, honest, down-to-earth gentlemen I've ever met," said Maureen Anderson, Pitt's assistant athletic director for development. "He wants to do what's best for the student athlete and what's best for their future."
After graduating from Pitt with a physical education degree in 1951, Baierl had planned on pursuing a career as a teacher and coach.
Only one thing stopped him: "Ironically, I couldn't find a job," Baierl said, laughing. "I served in the Korean War and then went to General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich. (now Kettering University)."
Baierl served an internship at his uncle's car dealership in Ambridge, Beaver County, then moved to the North Hills in 1961, buying a 30-acre farm and opening Baierl Chevrolet. Baierl now owns Honda, Kia, Mitsubishi, Cadillac and Toyota dealerships.
"It has been a very rewarding experience for me," Baierl said. "I knew I was going to be in business a long time. Everything you do brands your name -- you have to be careful."
That spirit is a big part of Baierl's success, said his cousin, company Vice President Lee Baierl.
"Bill has more energy and drive to succeed than other people half his age," Lee Baierl said. "He always believes in treating people fairly. There are no hard negotiations here and he gives a good deal. It has led to people coming back and to referrals. Obviously, it's the right philosophy."
Baierl secretary-treasurer Doug Mulligan agrees.
"Bill is one of the most giving and professional people I've ever worked for," Mulligan said. "He's an institution. Everyone looks up to him."
Baierl shrugs off the praise.
"I'm just building on a foundation that my parents instilled in me," he said, "trust, honesty, loyalty."
Facilities named after Bill BaierlEdit
- Baierl Pavilion, cancer wing at UPMC Passavant hospital in McCandless.
- Baierl Center, 48,000-square-foot facility at North Allegheny High School. Includes a fitness center, three volleyball courts, a two-story activity room, conference and meeting space, four locker rooms, five offices, concession stand and whirlpools and rehabilitation facilities.
- Baierl Student Recreation Center at the University of Pittsburgh, a 39,000-square-foot facility which features two floors of fitness equipment
- Baierl Basketball Center, University of Pittsburgh.