PEORIA, Ill. — Ray Green, 91, of Peoria, Ill., and formerly Jacksonville, Ill., passed away Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at Apostolic Christian Home in Peoria.
He was born in Cascade, Iowa, on December 2, 1927, the son of John and Mildred Finn Green. Ray married the love of his life, Beverly J. Westermeyer, on June 21, 1952, in Dyersville, Iowa, and they were happily married until her death on December 27, 2012.
Ray is survived by his children, Gail A. Green, of Peoria, Jill A. Green of Bettendorf, Iowa, and Todd C. (wife, Christine) Green, of Springfield, Ill.; one daughter-in-law, Pamela Green, of Peoria; eight grandchildren (who adored him), Eric W. (wife, Erin) Dresing, Ashley (husband, Stephen) Dresing Bradshaw, Chad W. (wife, Mandi) Dresing, Allison (husband, Stephen) Dresing Swain, and Madison, Drake, Audrey and Gabriel Green; five great-grandchildren, Sophia, Kiefer and Ella Bradshaw, and Charlie and Luke Dresing; two sisters, Janet (Jim) Rigdon of Waterloo, Iowa, and Karen (Paul) Schwaegler of Dubuque; two sisters-in-law, Mary Klein, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Sandy (Bob) Faltermeier, of Kansas City, Kan.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by one son, Jeffrey J. Green; and three brothers, Robert, Richard and Gerry Green.
Ray attended St. Martin’s High School in Cascade, and graduated at age 16. He attended Loras College in Dubuque briefly, before he joined the Army, and served in Italy for two years. Following his discharge, he returned to Loras College and earned his bachelor of arts degree in education administration. Ray began a long and distinguished career in the automotive industry when he was hired as a field representative for General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) in Des Moines, Iowa, in June 1951. He left to go to work as a salesman at a Pontiac Buick dealership in Iowa City, Iowa, and was awarded salesman of the month his first month there. He was then recruited as a general manager at Flenor Pontiac Cadillac in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, before coming to Monmouth, Ill., with Barrows-Addleman, in 1957. Ray eventually purchased that dealership from Ken Addleman in 1964.
While in Monmouth, Ray was active in many community activities, including Rotary and Knights of Columbus. He served as president of the Monmouth Community Hospital board of directors, and led fundraising efforts which raised $4 million for the construction of the new hospital building.
In 1975, Ray sold the Monmouth dealership, and became owner of Ray Green Chevrolet in Jacksonville. Ray then went on to form Green Holding Company in 1982, and expanded his family’s business to include his family’s dealerships in Springfield, Danville, Peoria and East Moline, lll., and Davenport, Iowa.
Highly respected in the automotive industry, Ray earned countless awards and recognitions throughout his career. He served on dealer councils for Chevrolet, Cadillac and Oldsmobile, and was proud to have served as chairman of the International Organization of Motor Trades and Repairs New Vehicle Committee, which is headquartered in Hague, Holland, and represents over 20 countries. He was a founding member of the Dealer Election Action Committee (DEAC). Ray was twice a finalist for the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award. In 1973, he was named the Illinois Time Magazine Quality Dealer, and in 1998, he was selected as one of the top eight dealers in the entire country for the award. Ray worked his way to president of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association.
The honor which meant the most to Ray was being elected president of the National Automobile Dealers Association in 1990. He traveled the world as president of the organization, representing dealers and speaking on behalf of them. He was admired by his colleagues for his ability to negotiate and compromise, and for his leadership qualities. Late in his career, he received the distinguished honor of being inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Ray was a benevolent and generous community leader. Both personally and through his dealerships, he was able to provide charitable support to numerous schools, hospitals, colleges, boy scout troops and other organizations. He served on the Board of Regents at both Monmouth College and Loras College, and as chairman of the Loras College Financial Endowment. During those years, he increased the endowment of Loras College from $17 million in 1995, to $30 million in 1997. An avid supporter of Catholic education, Ray was also instrumental in the formation of the Routt Catholic High School/Our Saviour School’s DREAMS fundraising campaign, which raised over $800,000 for the schools in the first four years of existence. He was described by his committee members as “the one who made it happen.” Now in its 26th year, the fundraiser has raised nearly $5 million for the schools.
Ray was a longtime member of the Church of Our Saviour in Jacksonville. He was also a member of Legatus, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club, American Legion and the Jacksonville Country Club.
Regardless of Ray’s many accomplishments, he would say that his greatest pride was his family. He was admired by his children for his work ethic, and he was honored to have them follow him in the automobile business. Ray was truly rich with the love of friends and family. He was the ultimate optimist, and was able to find the positive and good in all. He touched so many lives with his heart and soul, and will be sincerely missed. He will be cherished in Heaven as he was on Earth. The one thing Ray always said in closing out a conversation was, “do you need anything?”
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Monday, August 12, 2019, at Church of Our Saviour in Jacksonville. The family will meet friends from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m. on Monday at the Williamson Funeral Home. Private interment will take place at Springdale Cemetery in Peoria.
Memorials are suggested to the Ray Green Charitable Trust Foundation, P.O. Box 13315, Springfield, IL 62791, and may be given in care of Williamson Funeral Home, 1405 Lincoln Avenue, Jacksonville, IL 62650.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.airsman-hires.com.