William B. Ingersoll - Father of American Resort Development Association

By Rosalie E. Leposky

Of the five "founding fathers" of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), only one remains active in the organization today: William Boley Ingersoll.

Ingersoll has been ARDA's general counsel and secretary ever since its formation in 1969 as the American Land Development Association. Along with Denny L. Brown, Bill Habel, Don Harding, and Gary W. Terry, he created the trade association that has lobbied Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state regulatory agencies on behalf of the resort-development industry for more than a quarter of a century.

An attorney and founding partner of Ingersoll & Bloch, a law firm in Washington, D.C.,Ingersoll also has left his mark on the legal-publishing industry and has been involved in the restoration and redevelopment of dozens of historic buildings in and around the District of Columbia. Throughout his career, though, he has scrupulously avoided any participation in timeshare development. "We never wanted to compete with our clients," he says.

     
          William Boley Ingersoll

An attorney and founding partner of Ingersoll & Bloch, a law firm in Washington, D.C.,Ingersoll also has left his mark on the legal-publishing industry and has been involved in the restoration and redevelopment of dozens of historic buildings in and around the District of Columbia. Throughout his career, though, he has scrupulously avoided any participation in timeshare development. "We never wanted to compete with our clients," he says.

The Birth of ARDA

Terry, who served as ALDA's first chief executive officer, is now a member of the law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough. Ingersoll and Terry met while working together as attorneys in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1969, where they were organizing a staff and preparing regulations to implement the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. Terry recalls that ALDA grew from a casual remark. "One of Bill's associates said, 'If there had been a trade association to represent the land-sales people, HUD's legislation would have been different.' I went back to my office and thought about that for a couple of days. Then I suggested to Bill that we quit HUD and start a trade association to represent these people. Bill liked the idea. He asked me, 'How do we set up an association?' Neither of us had the slightest idea."

In 1970, with no income besides their current jobs to support their families, they decided that Terry would start a national developers' association and Ingersoll would start a law firm to represent developers. Both men understood the personal and professional risk. Between them, they were responsible for five young children.

Two Virginia apartment developers encouraged Ingersoll and Terry: Dwayne Stevenson, who then was working for Research Homes; and Ingersoll's father, William Brown Ingersoll, D.D.S., a Georgetown University Dental School professor. Dr. Ingersoll developed apartment houses in northern Virginia in his spare time. "My father's interests extended well beyond dentistry and real estate," says Bill Ingersoll. "He was active in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and was a northern Virginia district leader for the Boy Scouts of America." Ingersoll and Terry agreed that while Terry was establishing the association, Ingersoll personally would help to support him from the law firm's earnings. "I hustled a lot of business, including divorce work," Ingersoll says. A gentle being, he failed as a divorce attorney because he became emotionally involved in his clients' cases. "My divorce practice bothered me," he recalls,"because to be a successful divorce attorney, the lawyer needs to alienate himself from individuals."

Ingersoll and Terry knew a few developers at the outset, and they obtained from HUD a publicly available list of registered developers. Dr. Ingersoll and Dwayne Stevenson were named as founding directors of the association. Financed with funds supplied by Stevenson and Research Homes, Terry wrote ALDA's promotional literature and organizational documents, registered the association in Washington, D.C., and traveled nationwide to promote it.

"While struggling over a fee structure, we solicited support for ALDA even before we had an office," Ingersoll recalls. "To our amazement, money started to arrive. Gary and I, and our wives (Carolyn Potter Ingersoll and Carol A. Terry), sat on the floor and worked around the coffee table in our basement to prepare our first developer mailing describing the association and asking for financial support."

Carolyn Ingersoll remembers clearly one of ALDA's early planning meetings. "Brandon, our third child, was born on October 29, 1969. The night I brought Brandon home, Bill reminded me that he and Denny Brown, Bill Habel, Don Harding, and Gary Terry were going to meet in our basement recreation room."

"We were amazed when enough money came in for Gary to rent office space and support a secretary and himself," says Bill Ingersoll. "Gary's association slowly grew, but it took longer to establish my law practice." Ingersoll served in the beginning as ALDA's unpaid general counsel. One of ALDA's first board members was Richard J. "Dick" Ford, Sr., of Ford Colony.

The first ALDA general public meeting was held in December, 1970, at the Marriott Twin Bridges Motor Hotel just across the Potomac River from the District of Columbia. Ingersoll recalls that a couple of hundred people attended. Denny L. Brown, co-founder of ALDA and Camp Coast to Coast and now the owner of Brown Publishing Company in Rancho Santa Fe, California, still maintains the personal diaries he used when he helped to establish ALDA. Denny recalls that during the first ALDA conference, singer Pat Boone was performing at the Twin Bridges. In the wake of that meeting, Ingersoll and Terry organized a series of local land-developer meetings throughout the nation. "Gary attended all of the meetings, and we jointly attended some state meetings to encourage developers to join the new association," remembers Ingersoll. "During a meeting that Gary and I attended with Michigan developers just outside of Detroit, I met my future law partner, Stuart Marshall Bloch."

A former University of Miami student-body president, Bloch attended college on a golf scholarship and once wanted to play professional golf. Instead, he went to law school at Harvard University and represented the fourth generation of his family in their land-development business, Bloch Brothers, which had several projects in Florida and Michigan. "Although Stuart and I have completely different personalities, we 'hit it off' intellectually," Ingersoll says. "In the beginning, Stuart was one of the few people in the country with whom I could discuss our industry." Fortunately, Stuart and his wife, Julia Chang Bloch, a native of Shanghai, China, already lived in Washington. In the early 1970s, Julia was a legislative assistant to Senator Charles H. Percy, an Illinois Republican. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Nepal in the Bush Administration. Today she is president of the U.S./Japan Foundation. . Bloch describes her as "the family's public person."

     

     Stuart Marshall Bloch

A former University of Miami student-body president, Bloch attended college on a golf scholarship and once wanted to play professional golf. Instead, he went to law school at Harvard University and represented the fourth generation of his family in their land-development business, Bloch Brothers, which had several projects in Florida and Michigan. "Although Stuart and I have completely different personalities, we 'hit it off' intellectually," Ingersoll says. "In the beginning, Stuart was one of the few people in the country with whom I could discuss our industry." Fortunately, Stuart and his wife, Julia Chang Bloch, a native of Shanghai, China, already lived in Washington. In the early 1970s, Julia was a legislative assistant to Senator Charles H. Percy, an Illinois Republican. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Nepal in the Bush Administration. Today she is president of the U.S./Japan Foundation. . Bloch describes her as "the family's public person."

Fairfield Communities, Inc., in Arkansas and Sunriver Properties in Oregon were the first land developers to join ALDA. The first president of ALDA, New England developer John Dunham, served from 1969 to 1972. Some large Florida land developers, including Deltona and Sun Cities, joined a rival organization, The National Land Council. "They did not know what they were doing. They had no representation in Congress or at HUD," says Ingersoll.

Camp Coast to Coast

In 1972, ALDA members founded Camp Coast to Coast. "ALDA's ownership of Camp Coast to Coast raised issues of a non-profit association owning a money-losing for-profit company," says Ingersoll. "Camp Coast to Coast was not run well, and ALDA had all the liabilities of running the program. Denny Brown, co-founder of Camp Coast to Coast, wanted to purchase it, and ALDA ultimately sold it to him for $10,000 on November 26, 1976." On January 24, 1985, Brown sold Camp Coast to Coast to American Bakeries Company. Today it is a subsidiary of Affinity Group, Inc., a recreational-membership and publishing firm.

"No one wanted to give Brown credit to make Camp Coast to Coast profitable. Originally Camp Coast to Coast was created to generate funds for ALDA. In the early days, many campground developers were small or fly-by-night operators who did not want to pay dues. Camp Coast to Coast's membership changed regularly. It was a struggle to fund Camp Coast to Coast because even good campground developers did not want to pay."

Denny Brown is convinced that one of the most important events in timeshare history occurred at ALDA's September 1972 meeting at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. "In a meeting lunch line a California campground owner, name now lost, proposed a reciprocal arrangement to tie campgrounds together. He suggested that if campground developers could work out an agreement, campground user/owners could purchase space in one campground and would be able to travel and use other campgrounds."

One participant in that lunch-line discussion was Jon H. DeHaan, who went on to establish Resort Condominiums International, now the industry's largest timeshare-exchange organization. "Everyone who attended the Chicago meeting returned to Washington excited about the new reciprocal arrangement concept that could save the campground industry," Brown recalls.

Ingersoll and Bloch's Origins

After resigning from HUD, Ingersoll shared a law practice with Denny Brown for about six months in 1970 and 1971. "Ingersoll and Brown dissolved because Denny was more interested in accounting," Ingersoll recalls. "We were doing divorce and some criminal work. Only a few attorneys were familiar with the new federal and state land-development laws." Brown went on to become ALDA's first secretary and accountant and to help create Camp Coast to Coast.

For about 18 months, Ingersoll joined the Springfield, Virginia, law firm of Fried and Fried and established a working relationship with Stuart Bloch. "No one at Fried and Fried knew anything about my legal work. Stuart was the only person there with whom I could discuss it," Ingersoll says.

Ingersoll talked Bloch into opening a Washington office for Fried and Fried, and the two were working closely together. "Eventually Mark Fried, senior partner at Fried and Fried and a northern Virginia land developer, told me, 'I don't understand what you fellows are doing, but you're doing very well.' He did not understand our very technical and administrative type of legal practice, which is different from regular real-estate law, and he was concerned that we were creating possible liabilities for the firm. Eventually, Mark politely asked that Stuart and I leave Fried and Fried, and in early 1973 we decided to set up our own law firm.

"Our new office was in the District of Columbia. From two original attorneys, Ingersoll and Bloch grew to a maximum of about 35 legal professionals at one time." Today Ingersoll and Bloch is a mid-sized law firm with about 20 legal professionals. The firm's self-supporting publishing subsidiary, the Land Development Institute (also created in 1973) has another 10 employees. The legal services offered by Ingersoll and Bloch have evolved to include all aspects of land-development law, including conceptual development, campsite development, general off-site development, and timesharing law.

In 1964, French developers invented the original concept of division of time now known as timesharing. Florida accountant and attorney Thomas J. Davis Jr. wrote the initial 'interval- ownership' timeshare condominium documents, but Davis's original concept was a license to use that many state agencies did not accept. Without their approval, owners could lose their interest when developers went bankrupt or an outside source terminated the owners' interest.

"We modified Davis's concept and were able to obtain title insurance from Lawyers Title of Virginia about the same time Tom and his partner, Mario F. Rodriguez, obtained title insurance," Ingersoll says. "Over the years, additional changes have been made to improve condominium documents. Timesharing law is especially interesting because few areas of law are evolving and changing as quickly."

"In the early days of timesharing, Bill and Stuart gave me the opportunity to learn," says Stephany A. Madsen, ARDA's vice president-legislative affairs and a former employee of the Land Development Institute. "They anticipated legal questions--how laws would affect the timesharing industry--and discussed the issues before the industry participants were aware the questions existed, and when most participants were still concerned primarily with sales and marketing. They had a list of about a dozen Federal laws, including equal-housing and equal-credit opportunities." When an early client told Ingersoll and Bloch to research these laws, the partners compiled two volumes that became the impetus for the Timeshare Law Reporter and launched the Land Development Institute.The institute's core publications, all updated annually, are the Digest of State Land Sales Regulations; and the Land Development Law Reporter, a four-volume compendium of all Federal Trade Commission securities, real-estate, and interstate-commerce regulations, HUD's land sales regulations and the Office of Interstate Land Sales, environmental regulations, and state real-estate laws affecting land-development law. Other institute publications include the Guides for Timesharing and Land Sales Personnel, Resort Development Land, the monthly Timeshare Law Reporter, Equal Opportunity Law Reporter (now discontinued), and District of Columbia Real Estate Reporter.

Ingersoll and Bloch started their publishing efforts because "the information in our publications is not published elsewhere, and we needed the information for our own law practice," says Ingersoll. "Land Development Institute publications are purchased by other attorneys, law libraries, and land developers."

Redeveloping Historic Washington

In the mid-1970s, Stuart Bloch and Bill Ingersoll formed a third company, JC Associates Real Estate Co., named for their wives, Julia Bloch and Carolyn Ingersoll. "We rebuild, renovate, and retrofit historic shopping centers, apartment buildings, and small office buildings that we then manage and sell," says Ingersoll. They have done this to about 100 buildings, primarily in the Washington area.

The first was the Ingersoll and Bloch law-office building, constructed in 1881 as a four-story (plus attic) Romanesque Revival home at 1401-16th Street N.W., ten blocks north of the White House. Susan Shields, widow of a Tidewater Virginia publisher, built the home. It is named for James S. Sherman, 27th vice president of the United States, who died in office on October 30, 1912. Bill Ingersoll's younger brother, architect Henry Grant Ingersoll of Del Mar, California, was in charge of the restoration. In 1975 the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored the Sherman House restoration for its excellence in historic preservation and architectural design.

"Bill has a good sense of humor, and always tells the whole truth, never a slight distortion," says attorney Jay Zawatsky, who oversees the legal aspects of JC Associates' restoration efforts. "He provides architects and bankers with complete facts, and makes sure they are paid, making it easier for me to do my job."

"JC Associates is a larger business than our law firm or publishing company," Ingersoll reports. "Today it also owns six manufactured-housing (mobile-home) parks in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. We've owned as many as 12 family mobile-home parks. Our first such efforts were with Stuart's brother, Ivan Bloch. Later we did others on our own. None of our timesharing legal clients is in mobile home parks. We've tried to segregate everything we've done to avoid potential conflicts."

Ingersoll the Man

Bill Ingersoll was born in 1938, the eldest child of Dr. William Brown Ingersoll and Lorraine Boley Ingersoll. Dr. Ingersoll died in 1977; Lorraine Ingersoll, now 87 years old, is a grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of two. Bill Ingersoll has three younger siblings: Joseph W. Ingersoll, a businessman in Falls Church, Virginia; Barbara J. Ingersoll; and Henry, who helped in the Sherman House restoration. Bill and Henry have developed shopping centers in various parts of the nation through Greenwood Associates, a general partnership based in Falls Church, Virginia. "After Dad died, Henry and I purchased from his estate some of his apartment buildings and converted them to condominiums," Bill says. Bill describes his mother as a traditional Mormon housewife. She also administered her husband's private dental practice.

"My parents moved back to Washington from Utah in the 1930s to find work," says Bill. "My father was a University of Denver Medical School graduate. He was offered a Georgetown teaching fellowship. My mother was a concert singer and pianist. My father promised her a grand piano if she would work five years to help start his private dental practice. Mother worked hard to support my father. Upstairs over his dental office, she ran a boardinghouse. Five years passed. Mother wanted the piano. My father said sorry, he couldn't purchase a grand piano because he had lost the money in the stock market. Years later, mother obtained her piano. She became father's bookkeeper, and started taking money that she considered hers out of my father's account to invest in Marriott stock." Mrs. Ingersoll's stock-market success far exceeded her husband's. "Today, mother still actively trades stocks," Bill says. "She enjoys traveling, attends stockholder meeting, and always has a comment."

For most of his life Ingersoll has known J.Willard Marriott Jr., board chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Marriott International, Inc.; but he is closer to Richard E. Marriott, board chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Host Marriott. Richard Marriott and Bill Ingersoll are two of five close life-long friends who share common interests that started with water skiing, and racing cars and motorcycles. Today they share long-distance bicycling vacations. "A core group of five men has grown to about 20, including sons, brothers, and in-laws, and wives and daughters on some trips," Ingersoll explains.

In 1963, Ingersoll received a Bachelors of Science degree in finance from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. During his student days, he spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Australia. In 1968, he graduated from Catholic University School of Law and went to work as an attorney for the District of Columbia's Corporate Counsel, which provides civil legal services to the District of Columbia city government. In 1969, he joined the general counsel office of HUD, where he met Gary Terry. Although both men are Mormons, they had attended different undergraduate and law schools, and encountered each other for the first time at HUD. For five years, Ingersoll served as a bishop (religious leader) of a Mormon congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. "Bill has a lot of responsibilities, but he easily delegates responsibility," says his wife, Carolyn. "My husband is very decisive and logical. He sees things very clearly. Bill always says, 'I make decisions, and I make them work. It is better to make a wrong decision than to make no decision.' The principal of delegation is important in our church, where team effort is important, and every team member has to pull his or her own weight."

Bill and Carolyn Ingersoll have four children. The three eldest attended Brigham Young University. William Brett, 33, a Harvard MBA graduate, lives in New York City and works for Chemical Venture Partners (the trade name for Chemical Equity Inc.) and is the father of a year old daughter. Courtney DeMordaunt , 29, a former employee of the private investment group of Goldman, Sachs & Co is the mother of an 3 year-old son. Brandon, 27, is a first-semester graduate student in Harvard Business School's MBA program. Dana, 24, an English and studio-arts graduate of Brown-Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, is now in India studing Indian art and and languagues.

Carolyn the Woman

Carolyn Potter Ingersoll met Bill when both were juniors at Brigham Young University. A native of Montgomery County, Maryland, she is the youngest of two daughters of Johns Hopkins University electronics engineer Wayne Potter, one of the creators of the proximity fuse that was first used in the waning months of World War II during the Battle of Bulge (December 1944-January 1945).

Carolyn majored in political science and minored in English. She and Bill married in September of 1962, during their senior year. After graduation, they moved back east to Virginia, and Bill started law classes at night at Georgetown University Law School. Carolyn took the Federal civil-service examination in 1963. "The defense department aggressively was hiring people to take computer training," she says. "Bill took a computer class at Brigham Young, and he was sure they were up and coming. He encouraged me to take the civil-service test and qualify for computer training." Carolyn worked for the Army's computer division for three years as a computer programmer and systems analyst, and attended computer classes at American University. During this time, Bill often studied in the Pentagon law libraries.

Today, Carolyn maintains the Ingersoll family e-mail address and computer systems. "My wife and children are all computer nerds," he says. In May of 1994, 25 years after ALDA was formed, Carolyn sat in the Mirage Hotel ballroom in Las Vegas with hundreds of other people, cameras, fancy food, and entertainment, celebrating the results of the effort of the five men who met in her basement. "Who would have thought that would be the result of the guys' vision, and the legislation for which they lobbied," she says. "It was an American dream. We were all in our early 30s. Our five families combined had more than a dozen children, no money, and everyone carried brown-bag lunches to work."

Rosalie E. Leposky is managing partner of Ampersand Communications, a news-features syndicate based in Miami, Florida.

For More Information

American Resort Development Association - http://www.arda.org/home.html

Holland & Knight, LLP - http://www.hklaw.com/

Copyright 1997 Ampersand Communications
All Rights Reserved
Published in The Resort Trades, January.


Back to Top