Mahlon E. Doyle, 1918-2013; Auto dealer helped found local chamber


Mahlon E. Doyle, a longtime auto dealer in Swanton who was among the first members of the village Chamber of Commerce, died Sunday in the Swanton Health Care and Retirement Center. He was 94.

Mr. Doyle, who was known as Pat, lived in the retirement center for two years, said his nephew, Gary Doyle, who didn't know the cause of death.

After working as a salesman at several dealerships, Mr. Doyle struck out on his own in 1961, starting his own company, Pat Doyle Motor Sales.

The dealership, which carried Buicks and Pontiacs, was at 517 S. Main St. in Swanton.

Gary Doyle began working at his uncle's dealership when he was 16 and was selling cars there when Mr. Doyle sold the business in 2002.

"He always taught me you have to take care of the customer after you sell the car," he said. "You have to provide good service, loaner cars, and service after the sales to keep them coming back."

Mr. Doyle sold the dealership in 2002 to McNeill Chevrolet, also in Swanton, which eventually closed the store on South Main Street and built a dealership a year later on Airport Highway.

He was born on Aug. 20, 1918, to Clara and Thomas Doyle. According to Mr. Doyle, the family lived in East Toledo and later in South Toledo. Mr. Doyle attended the old St. John's High School at Superior and Walnut streets near downtown Toledo.

He entered the Army in January, 1941, and was among the soldiers who participated in the Solomon Islands campaign in the Pacific Theater. A sergeant, he was discharged at the end of the war in October, 1945.

Bob Debo, a friend, said Mr. Doyle told him that he was stationed in the Pacific when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and was assigned to duties with the Marines.

Mr. Doyle said his uncle seldom talked about the war, but did tell him that the sergeant who replaced him quickly became a war casualty.

"He told me he was in charge of 85 men. The day he got relieved to be sent home, the fellow who took his place got killed," he said. "He got tears in his eyes when he told me that. But, he kept all the war stories to himself."

He married the former Ardane Mary Hollister on March 18, 1959. She died Jan. 19, 1972. They didn't have children and Mr. Doyle never remarried.

Mr. Doyle was among the businessmen who formed the Swanton Area of Chamber of Commerce and was a past president of the organization. He also had belonged to the Swanton Exchange Club and was on the board of directors of Farmers and Merchants Bank.

He belonged to St. Richard Catholic Church, where he served on the parish finance committee.

The Rev. Dan Zak, who was pastor for 15 years, said he bought a new Pontiac LeMans at Mr. Doyle's dealership in 1969, shortly after he was ordained a priest.

He said Mr. Doyle was among the parishioners who were in the church when he said his first Mass there as pastor in July, 1997.

"Seeing him there brought back memories. When I saw him after Mass I reminded him of the fact that I bought my first car from him," Father Zak said. "He was very dedicated to the church and a very faithful parishioner."

There are no immediate survivors.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Weigel Funeral Home, Swanton. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. Richard Catholic Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Wounded Warrior Project, Topeka, Kan.

Contact Mark Reiter at: or 419-724-6199.