Joe Romania, business owner and prominent member of the Eugene community, passed away from age-related causes last week
By: Tess McBride | Part time News Reporter
Romania, of Joe Romania Chevrolet, was known for his contributions to the University and leadership in local organizations and in the community.
The Montana native was recognized for his work in 1988 as a recipient of the University Pioneer Award, which is designed for "an individual who has taken risks" and is recognized as a leader and a giving member of society, according to the University.
"He was just that type of person," said Steve Roemer, who worked with Romania at his Chevrolet dealership on Franklin Boulevard for 14 years. "He believed in giving back to the community."
Roemer remembered when Romania gave a donation to have his name put on the Autzen scoreboard in the mid 1970s and was talked into doing it for about 30 more years.
Romania contributed in fundraising efforts for the original building of Autzen Stadium in 1967. He also participated in the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, Associated Oregon Industries, United Way and the Boy Scouts of America.
After serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, Romania began selling tires at Sears and Goodyear in Billings, Mont. By 1955 Romania became the used car manager at a Chevrolet dealership.
Romania and his wife, Cecelia, moved to Eugene in 1957, where he and a partner purchased the Chevrolet dealership that became Joe Romania Chevrolet 12 years later.
"I can't begin to tell you how good he was to me and my family," Roemer, who is now an employee at Kendall Chevrolet, said.
Romania continued to expand the company, purchasing Hyundai, Toyota and Subaru dealerships in the late '80s and early '90s.
In 1994 Romania retired and sold the dealership to his son, Steve Romania, who later sold the business, which became Kendall Chevrolet in 2005.
"His name was in the phone book and people could call him anytime," Steve Romania told The Register-Guard. "His legacy to the community was just kind of giving back, in a lot of areas."
Romania continued be involved with the dealership well after he sold the business and participated in fund raising and community projects.
He is survived by his wife, son, three daughters, three sisters and eight grandchildren.
Memorial contributions are asked to be made to the Sacred Heart Foundation, which is associated with the center that Romania fund raised for during his lifetime.
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