Bob Rohrman, the iconic auto dealer known for his comical television commercials and namesake suburban dealerships, died peacefully from natural causes Tuesday evening with his family at his side, company sources said.
Born the ninth of 11 children in a log cabin in Lafayette, Indiana, Rohrman, 87, built his automotive group from the ground up, starting in 1963 with a used-car lot in his hometown. Today the auto group has a presence in Indiana, suburban Chicago and Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rohrman launched his first new car dealership with Toyota in 1970, and under his guidance the Bob Rohrman Auto Group grew to one of the largest private dealer groups in North America, with 27 new car dealerships, company representatives said.
In the suburbs, Bob Rohrman dealerships are located in Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Gurnee and Oak Brook.
A more serious side to his TV commercial persona was found in his philanthropic and charitable contributions in the communities where his dealerships are located.
He recently donated funding for the creation of a state-of-the-art tennis complex for Lafayette Central Catholic High School, the Performing Arts Center at Lafayette Jefferson Public High School and a lead gift that led to the naming of Rohrman Field at Purdue University’s Ross-Ade Stadium.
“The Rohrman Family cannot express their gratitude for every employee and friend that has labored by his side through the years and look forward to continuing his legacy through the Bob Rohrman Auto Group,” a written statement released by the company reads. “His family will remember him most for his unending love and loyalty, generous heart for philanthropy, feisty spirit, contagious laugh and love for Purdue football.”
Funeral arrangements were still pending Wednesday morning.