Statement on the Death of ABL Executive Director Harry G. WilesAugust 20, 2010
Bethesda, MD – American Beverage Licensees announces with profound sadness and regret that Harry G. Wiles passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. Harry was ABL’s Executive Director and a leading member of the beverage alcohol community. He will be remembered as a true advocate for the entire industry and a loyal friend to those whose lives he touched.
Harry served as ABL’s Executive Director since 2002. He was chosen to lead the association and its nearly 20,000 members following its creation after the merger of the National Association of Beverage Retailers and the National Licensed Beverage Association. Under his leadership, ABL grew in scope and strength as he oversaw the partnering of on-premise and off-premise beverage licensees into a single, unified voice for the beverage retail community.
“Not only has our industry lost a leading advocate, we all have lost a dear friend,” said ABL President David Jabour. “Harry was the consummate industry ambassador and steward, and will be remembered for years to come. He was truly part of our industry family.”
An attorney and member of the Bar in the State of Kansas, the District of Columbia, and the United States Supreme Court, Harry followed his political instincts from Kansas to Washington, D.C. in 1976, where he worked on Capitol Hill before becoming a fixture in the beverage alcohol community.
Harry’s more than two decades of service to the industry began in 1987 when he became Senior Vice President of Federal Government Relations & Senior Counsel for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a position he held for thirteen years.
In 2010, Harry was inducted into the Sky Ranch Hall of Fame, and served on the Executive Committee of the Sky Ranch Foundation. He also served as a board member of the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI), the Responsible Retailing Forum (RRF) and the Night Club & Bar Advisory Board.
An avid supporter of the western lifestyle and horseback riding, Harry was a member of western riding organizations Rancheros Visitadores, based in Santa Barbara, CA, and El Viaje De Portola in San Juan Capistrano, CA. He was also a board member of the Heartland Alliance of America, the association for rural Americans.
Harry is survived by his wife Cindy; his daughter Heather and husband, Troy Valerius; and four grandsons. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions in Harry’s memory be sent to “Cowboy Heritage Association of Fort Worth” P.O. Box 136639, Forth Worth, TX 76136; or “Sky Ranch for Boys” 10100 Sky Ranch Place, Sky Ranch, SD 57724. A celebration of Harry’s life will take place at a future date with details to follow.