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Businessman William Numrich parlayed love of cars into success

William E. Numrich made a deathbed promise to his father, who had lost his life savings on a Tucker auto dealership, that he would never get into the retail car business.

Two decades later, he founded Day Automotive, an empire of car dealerships that now boasts more than 300,000 customers.

"His goal was to be his own man, his own boss," said his daughter, DebbieFlaherty of Fox Chapel. "He said if he had to do it over again," he wouldn't change a thing.

Mr. Numrich died of congestive heart failure Friday, Jan. 8, 2010, in his Upper St. Clair home. He was 77.

He was born Jan. 29, 1932, in Cincinnati to Adolphe and Bessie Numrich. His father and uncle bought a Tucker car dealership, but lost all their money when they never received a single car.

Mr. Numrich served on a destroyer in the Navy during the Korean War. He later received a bachelor's degree in business and a master's in business administration, both from Miami University of Ohio.

While in college, he met the former Linda Yoder. They were married in 1959.

That same year, Mr. Numrich began working for Ford Motor Co., first as a field manager and later as district manager. He moved to the Pittsburgh area in 1976.

Three years later, he bought a Ford dealership in front of Monroeville Mall and changed its name to Target Ford. He later bought another dealership, which he called Day Chevrolet at an employee's suggestion, and formed Day Automotive as the parent company for his dealerships.

His dealerships grew, and Mr. Numrich leaves behind a group of 14 new car dealerships, one used car lot and a separate body shop. Mr. Numrich's businesses are in Monroeville, Dormont, Moon, Elizabeth and Uniontown.

"At one time he probably had 24 different dealerships," said his son-in-law, ShawnFlaherty of Fox Chapel. "He was in the top 100 of the United States with over 700 employees."

Flaherty marvels over his father-in-law's knowledge of cars.

Once, on a family trip to Hawaii, Mr. Numrich saw a black sedan turn a corner from his peripheral vision.

" 'Oh, there's a '47 Continental with a big block engine and the dual carbs,' " Flaherty recalls him saying.

"He must have only seen that car for five seconds. I went over and asked the owner. He was right on all counts."

After his first wife died, Mr. Numrich married Elda Sullivan, the widow of the owner of Jack Sullivan Chevrolet.

Debbie Flaherty, now owner and president of Day Automotive, said Mr. Numrich was a devoted husband and father.

"I probably talked to him three times a day if I didn't see him," she said. "He was never afraid to tell me how much he loved me and how much I meant to him."

In addition to his wife and daughter Debbie, Mr. Numrich is survived by a daughter, Pam Wilsher of Scottsdale, Ariz.; two stepchildren, Joe Sullivan of Point Breeze and Ann Fabian of Shaler; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Beinhauer Family Funeral Home, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road, Upper St. Clair. Interment will be in Forest Lawn Gardens.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Pennsylvania Automotive Association Foundation, Elda and William Numrich Fund, P.O. Box 2955, 1925 N. Front St., Harrisburg, PA 17105 or Westminster Presbyterian Church.

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