Remembering the Life of Donald Treadwell

1984 NAR President Donald Treadwell

The REALTOR® family lost one of its most well-known and distinguished leaders when NAR’s 1984 president, Donald H. Treadwell, passed away March 30. As president of NAR, Treadwell helped the association become more politically active, launching a voter registration campaign as part of the REALTORS® Active in Politics program and lobbying to prevent major cuts to HUD’s budget and to preserve the mortgage-interest deduction (MID).

Treadwell also started the “On Your Mark” campaign to promote awareness of the REALTOR® trademark among members and consumers.

Treadwell’s real estate career started in 1935 when he began working summers at his father’s real estate office in Detroit. After earning both a bachelor’s and a law degree from the University of Michigan, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard, participating in the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. He became a REALTOR® in 1946.

Treadwell served as president of the Michigan Association of REALTORS® in 1959 and was named the state’s first REALTOR® of the Year in 1965. He also served on the NAR Board of Directors, was a regional vice president for Michigan and Ohio, and was on numerous NAR committees — most recently the Research Committee in 2004.

In both his business and association roles, he was interested in the role that technology played in real estate. His son, Donald Treadwell Jr., said he got a computer for his business back in the mid-1970s — still a rarity in the industry — for bookkeeping and database services.

“He constantly wanted to learn things,” said Treadwell Jr., a real estate practitioner himself and past president of the Down River Association of REALTORS®, based in Trenton, Mich., near Detroit. “One of the last conversations he had with me was a discussion of the huge impact the digital age was having on society and real estate in particular.”

Treadwell Jr. added that his father understood how to get greatness out of the people, whether they were part of his staff, across the closing table, or association volunteers and employees.

“There’s always a fine line between trying to get them to do their best and putting too much of a burden on them,” he explained. “He was very supportive and fair.”

The former NAR president is survived by his wife, Marjorie; five of his six children, and numerous grandchildren. To learn more about his service to NAR, you can read his official biography at

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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  1. Don Treadwell was a true professional. He displayed his leadership in a quiet effective way demonstrated by his achievements. I appreciated his leadship, advice and friendship during my years as a NAR Director and a MAR Director.

    He expected those of us who were NAR Directors to move into committee leadership positions and work for the good of the NAR.

    Graham Duryee, Associate Broker, CB, GRI
    Greenridge Realty
    Holland, MI

  2. very sorry to heard that the legend is no more in this world. his success in the field of real estate is unforgettable. He will be alive in the heart of everyone.

  3. I was blessed to have served on several NAR committees with Don. A true gentleman and exemplary professional. The world would be a better place if there were more people in at like Don Tredwell.