BOWLING GREEN - George R. "Dick" Wilson, 73, owner the last 30 years of a Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealership here who had his first job in the auto business at 12, died of sepsis yesterday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.
He fell several years ago after a knee replacement and developed an infection that persisted. Still, he worked six days a week until late October.
"I always told him I was his second love. The business was his first," his wife, Carol, said. "But that was OK. If he was happy, I was happy."
The dealership developed a loyal following and sold cars to succeeding generations in some families.
"He treated everybody like he wanted to be treated - the Golden Rule applied, no special treatment, no pressure," said his son Rick, the general manager of Dick Wilson Pontiac-Buick-GMC Truck.
Mr. Wilson's son Rob is the comptroller and oversees administration and the parts and service departments.
Times were tough at the start of Mr. Wilson's career as a car dealer.
Double-digit interest rates were the rule. The nation was between energy crises, and U.S. automakers had few products to sate the new demand for small cars, a market Japanese carmakers filled.
"He was just a good businessman and hung on, and we made it," his wife said. "He knew how to handle money. It just came naturally."
Going to work became his sustenance in later years, though he could have retired.
"He'd made it through all those tough times. We're finally established," son Rick said. "We're going pretty good and steady, and he could just enjoy it."
Mr. Wilson grew up on Main Street in Sylvania and was a 1949 graduate of the former Burnham High School. He was 12 when he went to work washing cars at Carroll Motor Sales, a Buick dealership owned by his uncle, Charles Carroll.
Mr. Wilson worked in the parts department of Front Pontiac in Perrysburg, owned by Ed Schmidt, and became parts manager and, in time, general manager of what evolved into Ed Schmidt Pontiac.
Mr. Wilson liked to play sports, and he liked the competitiveness of the automobile business, his wife said. He bought the Bowling Green dealership from Mr. Schmidt, who operated it as University Pontiac.
His sons got their start in the business the way he did: cleaning cars.
"It was like our college education," son Rick said. "For five years, we had to do every job in that store. There's not a job we didn't know how to do."
Mr. Wilson, despite six-day work weeks, took time for fun: He golfed and was a member of Bowling Green Country Club. He and his wife liked boating. He was a supporter of Bowling Green State University sports, was a member of the Falcon Club.
He was a member of the Elks and the Eagles.
Surviving are his wife, Carol, whom he married Sept. 22, 1956; sons, Rick and Rob; brother, Thomas Wilson, and two grandchildren.
The family will receive visitors from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Dunn Mortuary, Bowling Green.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in First Presbyterian Church, Bowling Green.
The family suggests tributes to the church or to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.