Nick J. Petrishen, owner of Nick Chevrolet in Tarentum, dies at 77 |
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Paul Guggenheimer

The night before he suffered a stroke that would ultimately take his life, Nick Petrishen Jr. went with his only son to see the movie “Ford v Ferrari.”

“He really enjoyed it the whole time,” said his son Nick S. Petrishen, 50, of Natrona Heights. “The ironic part is the local Chevy man has two strokes after the ‘Ford v Ferrari’ movie.”

Nick J. Petrishen Jr., owner, operator and vice president of Nick Chevrolet in Tarentum for nearly 60 years, died at home on Nov. 29. He was 77.

A larger-than-life character known for befriending the people who patronized his dealership and his generosity in giving to community causes, Petrishen also was an automobile enthusiast who built push trucks, which is a truck with a push bar on the front to get a race car started.

He also regularly attended races from Lernerville Speedway in Sarver to Daytona Beach, Fla.

“He liked old muscle cars, anything that could go fast. Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) was his favorite,” Petrishen said. “He was close with a lot of the local drivers. After he had his (initial) strokes, he was in a wheelchair, and every time that I took him they would announce to the crowd that he was in attendance.”

“We just took him to a race at Lernerville, and several of the drivers actually came up before the race and sat with him and talked with him in the stands,” said his daughter Michele Petrishen, 54, of Bemus Point, N.Y.

Nick Petrishen Jr., like his four sisters and one brother, started working in his family’s business at Power City Motors in Springdale as a teenager. He had little choice in the matter, but he was excited to do it nonetheless, settling in as a salesman.

“He definitely was born and bred for this,” said his son Nick S. Petrishen. “He used to tell everybody that he had the best job in the world because he got paid his whole life to (BS) as a car salesman.”

Mr. Petrishen had a big heart and liked to help others out, financially supporting high school athletics as well as Little League teams. He also gave support to local police and fire departments and other charitable organizations.

“After his first stroke, one of the stories that one of the EMS guys shared with me down at the hospital was, ‘Your dad donated to ambulance services but he didn’t do it by mail, he did it personally,’ ” Michele Petrishen said. “He would personally hand them a check.”

His children agreed that their dad had a sharp sense of humor, and that helped him survive his first two strokes.

Nick S. Petrishen recalled a story about how his father outfitted a life-sized mannequin of Mr. Goodwrench at the dealership with a hat, glasses, fake gun and a lit cigarette. That startled a cleaning worker at the dealership.

“And the story goes that he stood there with his hands in the air for about five minutes until the cigarette fell out of his mouth,” Nick S. Petrishen said.

Another daughter, Bridgette Ladie, 51, of Buffalo Township, remembered taking her dad to a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons concert. She said her dad always listened to oldies.

“I remember being with my dad driving a white Caprice convertible, and I would be in the front seat with my head on his lap, and the top down and listening to oldies. And I would just fall asleep,” she said.

Mr. Petrishen is survived by his wife of 55 years, Loretta Susan (Szymkowiak) Petrishen; children Michele Petrishen of Bemus Point, N.Y., Bridgette Ladie of Buffalo Township, and Nick S. Petrishen of Natrona Heights; three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; and siblings Carol Ann Koprivnikar of Natrona Heights, Rose Mary Koprivnikar of Natrona Heights, Janice Langham of Lower Burrell, John J. Petrishen of Lower Burrell and Sue Zaleski of Natrona Heights.

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