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Dealers lament suicide of California colleague

Sad story folks...

Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
October 26, 2009 - 12:01 am ET

Auto dealers reacted with shock to the apparent suicide of Bob Swift, owner of Swift Dodge in Sacramento, Calif.

Swift died Wednesday, Oct. 21, at his home from what The Sacramento Bee reported as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The newspaper cited an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office report.

Swift, the son of deceased California dealer Chuck Swift, was a popular dealer and a member of various Dodge dealer councils. Swift Dodge survived Chrysler's cut of 789 dealerships in June.

Roxanne Daneri, a lawyer for Swift Dodge, said the dealership planned to continue in operation “for a period of time.”

Howard Selz, owner of Big Valley Motors, a former Chrysler dealership in Van Nuys, Calif., said Swift was a respected member of the dealer community.

“He was salt of the earth,” Selz said. “He didn't have a bad bone in his body.”

Richard Carpenter, owner of Oroville Motors, a former Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership near Sacramento, credited Swift Dodge with helping him stay in business as a service operation after Chrysler terminated his franchise June 9.

Many dealers kept by Chrysler “turned their backs on us,” Carpenter said. “He found time to reach out to us and support us and helped us to remain in business. He provided a conduit for us to buy parts.”

Swift's father, Chuck, was known in California for his gravel-voiced TV commercials that started: “Hi, I'm Chuck Swift.”

Bob Swift was a “private person” who valued his family and business above all else, said Dan Kokotas, general manager of Swift Chrysler-Jeep- Dodge-Kia in Davis, Calif., another dealership founded by Chuck Swift.

The Swift family had been selling cars in the Sacramento area for 42 years. Chuck Swift died in 2000 at age 74.

Kathy Graham, a Chrysler spokeswoman, said: “We're saddened to lose him. He was a good dealer for us. We're very sad to hear about his passing.”

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