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Community icon Joe Romania dies at 86.

Byline: Joe Mosley The Register-Guard

Joe Romania, for decades a Eugene business icon and community leader, died Sunday of age-related causes. He was 86.

The owner of the former Joe Romania Chevrolet dealership on Franklin Boulevard was a recipient of the University of Oregon's "Pioneer Award" in 1988 for his role in numerous civic causes.

He was active in local United Way campaigns, the Boy Scouts of America, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and Associated Oregon Industries. He was instrumental in fund-raising efforts for Sacred Heart Medical Center, Marist High School and the University of Oregon - including the original construction of Autzen Stadium.

But to those who knew him best, Romania was an accessible man who thrived on being helpful - whether on community projects or to his dealership's customers.

"His name was in the phone book and people could call him anytime - customers could call him," his son, Steve Romania, said Monday. "His legacy to the community was just kind of giving back, in a lot of areas."

Joe Romania, the son of an immigrant coal miner, returned to his home state of Montana after serving four years in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He managed tire departments at Sears and then Goodyear in Billings, Mont., before taking a $300-per-month sales job in 1947, at Lew Williams Chevrolet in Billings.

Romania married Cecelia Winchell in 1952, and became used car manager of the Billings firm in 1955.

Two years later, he entered a partnership with Lew Williams to purchase the Chevrolet dealership in Eugene and moved to Oregon with his family. The dealership became Joe Romania Chevrolet in 1969, when Romania bought out Williams' share of the business.

He added the Romania RV Center to the family business in 1982 and took on local Hyundai, Subaru and Toyota dealerships from 1989 to 1992.

Romania retired after selling the businesses to his son, Steve, in 1994. Steve Romania then merged his company with the Kendall Automotive Group in 2002 and sold his interest to Kendall in 2005.

Steve Romania said his father remained active in the business and in his work around the community even after his retirement.

In addition to his wife and son, Joe Romania is survived by daughters Jody Brockmann of Eugene, Cindi Romania and Sheila Moore, both of Lake Oswego, and by eight grandchildren. He also is survived by three sisters: Mildred Tooley and Joanne Gerry, both of Billings, and Carolyn Calkins of Arizona.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul Catholic Church, with a reception at noon. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sacred Heart Foundation.
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Title Annotation:Business; The funeral is Friday for the former Chevrolet dealership owner and civic leader
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Oct 10, 2006
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