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Published: Sunday, 11/17/2013 - Updated: 8 months ago

Philip Hubbard; 1935-2013: Businessman, civic leader promoted community pride

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ONSTED, Mich. — Philip Hubbard, a community leader who kept the family auto repair business in tune with the times, died Wednesday night after he was struck by a vehicle as he crossed Onsted Highway in front of his house. He was 78.

He was pronounced dead at Bixby Hospital in Adrian.

Mr. Hubbard until recently served on Onsted's village planning commission and was a former chairman. He was chairman for 29 of the 40 years he served on the board of Onsted State Bank, now OSB Community Bank.

“He really had the community at heart,” said Eugene Deuel, former superintendent of the Onsted Community Schools and a friend. “He had a lot of success. He was pretty easy to get along with, and if you had something you wanted to do to improve the community, he was interested and would help you.”

Mr. Hubbard was on a local medical board to ensure that Onsted retained a doctor's office. His wife, Jackie, was a member of the library board.

“He grew up here and went to school here. He wanted to be part of the community and see it grow and keep going,” his son Jeff said. “He was a dedicated hard worker who was concerned for all. He was quiet and compassionate and just interested in building up the world, within a small area.”

Mr. Hubbard's father, Ovid, started an auto repair garage in 1943. He went to work alongside his father and, in time, took the reins. At first, the Hubbards sold gas and fixed cars. He added used car sales and a fuel oil distributorship. After the the oil crises of the 1970s, he added auto parts.

“He watched the market and was not afraid to go into a different direction,” said his son, who now runs Hubbard Auto Center. “He seemed to have a good sense of it, and good timing.

“It's always been a family business,” his son said. “My grandfather was repairing the cars, and my grandmother did the books. The same thing happened with my mom and dad. It was a great partnership.”

Mr. Hubbard officially retired in 1997, but he still paid attention to happenings in the shop.

Finding, fixing, and showing vintage automobiles was a pastime for years. He first owned a 1941 Chevrolet convertible, and years after it was gone, found and restored another. He set up a museum of sorts, which featured old autos, but also a replica of a filling station wall, plus old oil cans and Coke machines and Onsted post cards and other local artifacts. He opened the doors for events promoting the Irish Hills, and his guest book listed visitors from around the world.

“He loved people to come in and look at his stuff,” his son said.

He was a former president of the Kiwanis Club's Onsted car show and was active in the Irish Hills Antique Car Club. He drove his vintage cars to events around the country, taking the back roads, stopping in the cafes of small towns on the way.

“His ’41 Chevy was driven up Pikes Peak and has seen both oceans,” his son said.

He was born Feb. 27, 1935, to Marion and Ovid Hubbard and was salutatorian of his 1953 class at Onsted High School. He received an associate's degree in business from Jackson Community College. He was a veteran of the Army Reserve.

Surviving are his wife, Jackie Hubbard, whom he married Aug. 3, 1957; sons, Jeff and Mitch Hubbard, and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. today in Gateway Community Church, Onsted, where services will be at 11 a.m. Monday. Arrangements are by the Dunn Chapel, Brown-Van Hemert Funeral Home, Onsted.

The family suggest tributes to the Village of Onsted designated for the village revitalization fund.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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