Woodrow W. Woody, a Lebanese immigrant who sold Pontiacs in the Polish-American community of Hamtramck, MI, for six decades, died last month at age 94.
Over the years, he became a local legend, giving $1 bills to children, donating to charities and making folksy TV commercials with his trademark sign-off, “So long. See you soon. Drive carefully.”
When he first applied for a dealership franchise, a GM representative turned him down, questioning whether a guy from Lebanon could sell cars in a Polish American enclave.
“I said, ‘I'm dating a Polish girl and if you give me the franchise, I'll marry her,” Mr. Woody recalled in a 1999 Ward's Dealer Business interview. “He said, ‘Boy, if you want it that bad, you can have it.’”
When he folded his dealership in June 2000, Mr. Woody was one of the nation's longest-running Pontiac dealers. He had been selling Pontiacs since 1940. After his cars were gone, Woody kept going back to his office.