About 20 years ago, Paul C. Darley, his brother Peter and his cousin Jeff joined eight non-family managers at a management meeting for W.S. Darley & Co., a manufacturer of fire trucks and firefighting equipment based in Itasca, Ill. They waited for Peter and Paul’s father, Bill Darley, the president, CEO and patriarch, to arrive.
“He walked into the room and said, ‘I’m the ghost of Bill Darley. Bill was killed in a car accident driving up here today. What are you going to do?’” Paul Darley recalls. “It caught us off guard.”