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Published: Saturday, 2/19/2005

Lover of cars owned Findlay dealership

FINDLAY - James G. Herrin, who owned a Pontiac dealership here for 32 years, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday in the Life Care Center in Estero, Fla. He was 83.

Born in Detroit, Mr. Herrin grew up in Cave-in-Rock, Ill., a small town on the Ohio River. He attended Illinois public schools and graduated from Rosie Clare High School in the 1930s.

Judith Wittenmeyer said her father's love of cars dated back to his childhood days when he used to wash cars in the Ohio River for pocket money.

He owned the Jim Herrin Pontiac dealership in Findlay from 1961 to 1993.

"He had an easy-going personality and always had a smile on his face," Mrs. Wittenmeyer said.

She said her father moved to Detroit and lived in a boarding house before joining the Army Air Corps at the beginning of World War II. He was a sergeant in the 8th Air Force military police, stationed in England

Following the war, Mr. Herrin returned to Detroit and started working as a parts deliveryman at an auto dealership. He then became a used car salesman and a general manager at the same dealership.

It wasn't long after that when General Motors offered him the chance to start his own Pontiac dealership in Findlay, said his daughter.

"They gave him two new cars, three used cars, and a parts inventory," she said.

Mr. Herrin married his best friend's sister, Ann Mary Grachal, on Nov. 28, 1946. She died Feb. 16, 1992.

A former member of St. Andrews United Methodist Church, the Findlay Rotary Club, Findlay Skeet Club, and the Findlay Elks Club, Mr. Herrin moved to Florida in 1995 and spent most of his days playing golf, his daughter said.

Surviving are his daughter, Judith Wittenmeyer; son, James; two grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today in Coldren-Crates Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Cerebral Palsy Fund or a charity of the donor's choice.

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