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Richard Frank Stengl

November 8, 1928 June 19, 2017
Richard Frank Stengl
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Obituary for Richard Frank Stengl

Richard (Dick) Frank Stengl was born to Richard William Stengl and Sybil Marie (Utter) Stengl on November 8, 1928, in Marshfield, WI. He enjoyed boating and fishing with his brothers, Jack and Jim, and sister, Betty. The family often vacationed in Minocqua, where his father bought property near Lakeside Diner on Lake Tomahawk and built a cabin.

Richard graduated from Marshfield High School in 1947, and worked for J.C. Penney as a shoe salesman and was working his way up to a managerial position when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After training at Fort Polk, LA, he shipped out to Korea. Richard served in the 45th Infantry Division, I Company, 179th Infantry Regiment, the “Thunderbirds.” He fought in and survived the series of battles around Porkchop Hill in June 1952, then returned to the States.

In 1953, he began working in Marshfield, WI for his dad, R.W. Stengl, at Stengl
Motors—featuring Studebaker and, later on, Mercury automobiles. When Edsel first came out, Dick really wanted the franchise, but they wouldn’t give it to him. It wasn’t until the car flopped that they awarded him the franchise, and Dick sold it well! Sadly, Edsel folded anyway, in spite of Dick’s best efforts to save the entire company. On September 17, 1955, he married Donajean Proctor—one month after she graduated from nursing school as an RN. They had two children, David, born in 1956, and Dean, born in 1958. Richard enjoyed buying and restoring boats and taught his sons to work hard and enjoy accomplishing difficult tasks.

Dick Stengl moved his family to Santa Cruz, CA, in August 1965, and went to work at Al Cheney Ford as Sales Manager. In 1975, he and his son Dave started Stengl Motors, a used-car dealership, in downtown Santa Cruz. Before long, Dick became known as “the Chief,” a name that stuck with him to the end. Possibly because it suited him to a T. In 1981, they purchased Marina Motor Company, featuring Pontiac and Cadillac. In 1984, Dick founded the Capitola Auto Plaza. Construction began in 1985, and the Capitola Auto Plaza opened on March 1, 1986. At that point, they added Buick and GMC.

Richard F. Stengl retired from the automotive business in 1995 and moved to Minocqua, WI, almost 30 years to the day after he moved to CA. That year he began his new career of restoring and developing commercial and residential properties in the Lakeland area.

Dick dearly loved his children and grandchildren. His surviving family includes his wife of nearly 62 years, Donajean, his brothers, Jack Stengl and Jim (Chris) Stengl, and his sister, Betty Hewitt. His son David married Cindy Brown, and Dean married Jill Harrison. David’s son, Travis, married Allyson Machado, and gave Richard his first great-grandchild, Collin. David’s daughter, Traci, married Omeed Ghaffarian, and they have a son, Kaden. Dean’s son Tom married Kristen Learman, and they have a daughter, Audrey. Dean’s daughter, Anne Elisabeth, married Rohan de Silva, and they have a daughter, Una. Dean’s son Jimmy lives in Santa Cruz and works at Saturn Café, on the site of one of his grandfather’s old car dealerships! Dean’s son Peter is studying computer technology.

Richard passed away exactly as he wished to go, in his easy chair in his den at their condominium on the shore of Lake Minocqua. He was a larger-than-life character with a mind that never stopped working and planning, a great sense of humor, and a loving heart.

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