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Old 04-18-2009, 08:49 PM   #1
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In Honor of 'Uncle Tom"

From Scott...

Some of you may have heard that Sue and Tom Henry's Father (my uncle) Thomas B. Henry passed away early this morning.

It's a blessing in that Alzheimers had taken him from us a long time ago...........

I wanted to share a picture with you -- the employees have created a display which will remain until he's buried on Wednesday --

"Black Chevrolets in Mourning"
I personally did not know Thomas B. Henry, nor have I ever had the opportunity to meet him, but I would like to extend my most sincere condolences to you and your family, Tom. I know he will be greatly missed.

Please read this link for more information and history on Tom and the dealership he opened on February 14, 1958.
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:50 PM   #2

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Old 04-18-2009, 08:52 PM   #3
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A friend of Scott's is a friend of ours........ Rest in peace
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:54 PM   #4
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:56 PM   #5
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Sorry for the families and your loss Scott.

your in our prayers.
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:56 PM   #6
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God rest his soul
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:00 PM   #7
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Scott and Tom, my condolences to you and your family.

Mr. Henry sounds like he was a good man, may he rest in peace.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:03 PM   #8
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Tom is a great friend of the family we wish him and his family our sincere condolences.

Sean, Natalie, and Audrey Tolmasoff
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:06 PM   #9
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My condolences, TAG! Such a shame what Alzheimers does to a person, just like Ronnie Reagan.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:07 PM   #10

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May tom rest in peace. My prayers are with you and your family Scott.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:17 PM   #11
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God bless, I like the dealerships phrase
"A promise made is a promise kept" I'm sure he kept them all.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:52 PM   #12
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Scott and Tom I am very sorry for your loss, and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your families
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:55 PM   #13
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God Bless!
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:04 PM   #14

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All -- thank you for your kind words........

I wrote the following and posted on SSOA -- and will share with you.

It IS a blessing that Uncle Tom has passed - because we lost him some time ago to Alzheimers -- it TRULY IS 'The Long Goodbye'........

We come into this life with family surrounding us – and hopefully we leave with family surrounding us.

Many of you have heard me say this before: I am so very fortunate for everything I’ve been given in this life.....from being born in a free country to having a loving family surrounding me.

Most of the relatives that were there when I came into this world have passed over – (that’s because I’m ancient…….) but I’m lucky to still have lots of relatives and friends………and I was fortunate to grow up in a Family run Chevy dealership.

My Uncle Tom was the first-born of Clarence and Naomi Henry – born in the small railroad community of Callery, Pennsylvania….

Two years later he got a “baby sister” – Elaine – and they were surrounded by a small loving extended family of Grandparents and two Aunts , Florence and Edith -- and their small families.

The Henry Family always “stuck together” – because “T.G. Henry” -- his grandfather and patriarch of the family would expect nothing less!

“T.G.” was a life-long Train Engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.
–52 years….. And while “T.G.” loved his Steam Engine, he decided to open a Gas Station/Convenience Store in the small town which would provide a livelihood for Clarence and Naomi……

Living in a railroad community and having an ‘engineer legend’ for a grandfather ensured that uncle Tom would have a life-long fascination with anything to do with a railroad – from dozens of Lionel Trains to railroad lanterns….. From Switchlocks to railroad watches……..his ‘barn’ out in the country is chock full of railroad memorabilia.

Uncle Tom learned to pump gas at a very early age – and, because this was a different age when service really meant something – he knew to check the pressure in each tire on the customer’s vehicle as well as to check the oil and wash the windshield. He also knew that the “Henry” name was on the side of the building, and when it’s your family’s name on the building – well -- you just learn to always do the best job possible—because your work reflects on the family name!

Working in the store allowed Uncle Tom to save up some money – and to buy his first car – (a 1940 Ford roadster…..) – and I daresay the experiences of working around cars ensured that he would eventually go into the automobile business.

When our country was attacked on December 7, 1941, he knew he must go to serve his country – and thus, he joined the Army.

He was shipped off to Europe where he served in the transportation corps.

Anyone serving our country in war-time will tell you that your entire being changes –


When Tom came back to Callery at the end of the war, he met , fell in love, and married Aunt Marion…..and went to work for Coyne and Evans Chevrolet in suburban Pittsburgh.
(no more Fords for HIM!)
Before long, he was the top selling Chevrolet Salesperson in the entire Pittsburgh Zone – which is quite an accomplishment when you realize that there were only 48 Zones in the entire United States….

A daughter came along – Sue Lynn – and then a few years later, a son – Tom G. – note the same initials as the patriarch of the family……

Before long, he was given the opportunity to buy his own Chevrolet Dealership….in the small town of Bakerstown – just ‘up the line’ on the railroad from Callery. The Henry Family pooled some money to help him--- and on February 24th, 1958 he became a Chevrolet dealer – something that, for the rest of his life, he’d be so very proud to be.

It wasn’t long before Tom’s business grew to the point where he would need to build a new building on the major highway coming out of Pittsburgh. His brother-in-law, Dale had been a friend in high school – and also owned a Plumbing and Heating business – so the new building had a “member of the family” overseeing the complete construction……

Before long, Dale realized that he’d much rather be in the automobile business than the plumbing and heating business – so he sold his share to a partner and joined Uncle Tom in opening a Jeep Dealership under the Tom Henry name.

It wasn’t much longer before Dale bought another Chevy dealership – about 70 miles from Bakerstown. Tom and Dale would discuss what cars and trucks each dealership would stock so that the dealerships had a much wider and varied inventory…..and because Dale and Elaine still lived in nearby Mars, “car swaps” were a regular occurrence.

A couple of years later, Dale would sell his dealership to another partner and come back to Bakerstown to serve as General Manager of the Bakerstown store. (his wife and children didn't want to leave he sold his 'dream' to a partner and stayed in Mars.)

Meanwhile, Tom and Marion, and Dale and Elaine were raising families – and it was very obvious that two of the boys LOVED the automobile business.

From the very beginning, both boys collected toy cars; begged their fathers to allow them to come to the dealerships on Saturdays; and could tell you every small detail about the newest models from Chevrolet and Jeep.
………And what GREAT models there were in the 60s! Oh the big-block Caprices and Impalas that Tom and Dale would drive – and the Camaros and Chevelle SS Convertibles that Marion and Elaine would drive…….

Both boys learned to drive YEARS before they turned 16……

The dealership continued to grow both in terms of volume and of facilities – and Dale would always be on-hand to do the plumbing and oversee any and all construction.

When Grandpa Henry passed – I don’t think there’d ever been a funeral procession with that many Caprice Wagons all in a row……….

As we grew up in the dealership, Uncle Tom would always instill the mantra: “Our name is on the building – you must do what you do better than anyone else!”

…….and you know, I will always hear him (and my father as well) say those words when I’m working on a project.

His attitude was: “I expect 100% from my employees – and 200% from my family!” – and again, I can clearly understand that.

As you wander through my mother’s home, you’ll see so many items that feature the “Chevy Bowtie” or the “GM Mark of Excellence.” I am fortunate in that Tom and my father (along with my Grandfather ) always taught me that our very food and clothes --the very roof over our heads!! --came from Chevy and General Motors…and because of this, they were proud to serve drinks in “Rocks” Glasses with the Chevy Bowtie – or put out ashtrays (remember when everyone seemed to smoke?) and matches with “Tom Henry Chevrolet” imprinted upon them. It was an honor and a privilege – and frankly, a status symbol to be a General Motors Dealer – ESPECIALLY if you had the Chevrolet Francise.

As college approached, Uncle Tom called Cousin Tom and I into his office – and made it very clear that we MUST learn everything that we could in college– because the success or failure of the dealership would eventually depend on us. Moreover: ‘You must NEVER disgrace the family name!’

I left for Northwood University in the autumn of 1972; Cousin Tom left for Fuhrmann University – But before long, he transferred over to Northwood simply because of its Automotive Programs. It does not seem possible that this was almost 40 years ago! We’d drive home on weekends and be at the dealership early Saturday morning – not only to earn a few dollars – but to just ‘breathe in’ the business. ( I can still imagine the EXACT scents that mingle within the shop -- ) We had some tremendous times together – and we still laugh about the silly stuff we did - -and the ‘trouble’ we’d get into. (…..and for the record – you CAN launch a K5 blazer into the air quite easily!)

Cousin Tom came into the family business after graduation – and I went to work for a Chevy Dealer about 30 miles away to continue to ‘learn the business.’ Before long, Chevrolet Motor Division called – and I went to work for GM in Philadelphia……………

What a ride.....

What great memories.....

I could write ‘another book’ just on my memories of our Family and our Family business!

My father passed in October of 1994. I like to say he went to “that Great Chevy Showroom in the Sky --- cuz they needed a plumber…” It was a great way to go. He watched a Monday Night Football game --featuring his beloved ‘Steelers’-- with his mother – my Grandmother – she in her late 90s –

“Mom” Settlemire had gone to the game with my sister-in-law (season tickets, you see….) The Steelers won – he called my brother to celebrate over the phone……..

……..and then he reclined the easy chair in my grandmother’s living room –

………….and he closed his eyes –

.......................and he crossed over a very contented and happy man.

Uncle Tom joined my Dad this morning in that ‘Great Chevy Showroom in the Sky”

………..and yes, I shed tears for him………..

……..but he wasn’t nearly as fortunate as my father. see, the last couple of years have been horrible for him as Alzheimers – the “long goodbye”-- took all his memories – all of that knowledge – and all of that Henry Pride and work ethic –

……… one should have to go thru such indignity.

And so I will shed some tears…….but I won’t really ‘miss’ him in the conventional sense, because, you see, he’s been ‘gone’ for some time.

Rather – I will celebrate his reunion with Grandpa Clarence and Grandma Naomi………and “T.G. and Louella Henry (his grandparents) – and my favorite “Uncle Tic and his wife Irene” –

………….and I think I can imagine the “Big Band Sound” of the 40s playing in that Great Chevy Showroom in the Sky – where things are always beautiful and “big blocks” and SSs are plentiful. – and he and my father are, perhaps, discussing another addition – or perhaps what a particular used car is worth…….

Rest well, Uncle Tom – you and Dad made me who I am – and taught me so much………and I love you.
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