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Published: Friday, 10/21/2005

Fremont man sold automobiles for 40 years

FREMONT - Peter H. Ellis, who sold Plymouths, DeSotos, and Chryslers as the owner of a Fremont car dealership for more than 40 years, died Tuesday in his home. He was 96.

Mr. Ellis's daughter, Suzanne Gildenmeister, said her father's health deteriorated quickly over the last two weeks.

The cause of death was unclear, she said.

Mr. Ellis owned Pete Ellis Auto Sales on South Front Street from the 1940s until 1984, when he closed the business and retired, Mrs. Gildenmeister said.

She described her father as a hard-working businessman whose days typically began at 6:30 a.m. and stretched until 9 p.m. or later. "He never had any spare time," Mrs. Gildenmeister said. "When he was in business, he worked day and night."

Mr. Ellis' dealership was a small operation, mostly because of his aversion to borrowing money, his daughter said. "He probably never had more than 10 new cars in at one time," she said, but he supplemented his inventory with used vehicles.

Before opening his own dealership, Mr. Ellis was a co-owner of Ellis Motor Sales Chrysler-Plymouth on State Street in Fremont. And prior to that, in the 1930s, he opened a Sinclair gas station at Wayne and State streets.

Mr. Ellis was born in Greenwood, Ark. After graduating from high school there and the former Chillicothe Business College in Missouri, he moved to Fremont. He married Lucinda M. Gonawein on April 9, 1938. She died in 1990.

Surviving are his daughters, Suzanne Gildenmeister and Linda Potts; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Wonderly-Horvath Funeral Home, where visitation will be after 4 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to the Shriners Crippled Children's Hospital, Hayes United Methodist Church, or Hospice of Memorial Hospital.

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