Volo Auto Museum mourns death of co-founder

Bill Grams, 77, died of a heart attack Tuesday. He and his younger brother, Greg, founded the museum in 1960.

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Bill Grams, a co-founder of the Volo Auto Museum, died Tuesday. He was 77.

Bill Grams, a co-founder of the Volo Auto Museum, died Tuesday. He was 77.

Bill Grams, who with his brother turned a 20-acre farm property into the renowned Volo Auto Museum, has died.

Grams, 77, of Volo, died of a heart attack Tuesday at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital near Lake Barrington after battling cancer, according to a news release.

In an indication of his hierarchy within the collectible automobiles market, Grams’ bidder number was 4 with the popular Mecum Auctions company.

“The car industry is a little less full without him,” said Brian Grams, his nephew and the museum’s director. “He was very well known and liked by the car community, very much a staple in the collector car world.”

Bill Grams and his younger brother, Greg, grew up on a nonoperating dairy farm northwest of U.S. 12 and Illinois 120, and, as teenagers, they enjoyed renovating automobiles “put out to pasture” by area farmers, according to the museum website.

Their handiwork paid off when they sold a 1931 Chrysler CD-8 Roadster, which Greg Grams had restored, for $25,000.

The brothers co-founded the Volo Auto Museum in 1960. It’s now a 35-acre family destination that includes various exhibits and a collection of 400 cars dating to the 1900s. It also handles purchases and sales of collectible vehicles. In recent decades, Bill Grams was dedicated to running the museum’s Antique Malls and pre-World War II collection.

Grams was a proponent for Volo’s incorporation in April 1993 and served on its first village board.

Greg Grams said his brother continued to attend car auctions until last winter, when his illness worsened. While Greg Grams tended to be more the business-oriented brother of the operation, he appreciated the personal touch Bill Grams brought to auctions, business events and to the auto museum.

“He was the one who always cheered me up,” Greg Grams said. “I’m going to miss my best friend.”

Bill Grams also is survived by his wife of 56 years, Carolyn; a daughter, Lisa; a son-in-law, Keith Santiago; a sister-in-law, Marilyn Miller; a granddaughter, Mila; and nephews Brian (Lesa) and Jay (Kandie).

Arrangements are being handled by Hamsher Lakeside Funerals and Cremations in Fox Lake. Services and burial will be private, with a memorial reception at a later date.

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