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Amherst auto giant Ed Mullinax dies in Florida: obituary

August 7, 2018

Amherst auto giant Ed Mullinax dies in Florida: obituary

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Leading Ford dealer Charles Edwin “Ed” Mullinax died Saturday in Port Orange, Florida, at age 85.

According to his family, the self-made Mullinax became the nation’s biggest Ford dealer in the 1990s and gave Amherst the world’s biggest showroom, holding up to 120 cars. Mullinax had up to seven dealerships at a time and 17 over the years.

He was widely credited with pioneering the now common practice of what he called “one-price” sales in 1975, posting his final offer on every windshield.

Automotive News named Mullinax one of its “50 Visionary Dealers” of all time. He was known by the commercial jingle, “Ed Mullinax Is a Friend of Mine.”

Mullinax spent many winters in Florida and summers in Amherst, home of his first sole dealership. He died after a night in Halifax Health Hospice near his Florida home.

Jerry Mullinax, a son and colleague with brother Larry, said of their father, “He had a way with people. He thought everybody was interesting. He’d fly back from Florida to Ohio, and the person sitting beside him would come in the next day and buy a car.”

Ed Mullinax was born in Ellijay, Georgia, and graduated from Stow (Ohio) High School. He became a paratrooper and military policeman with the Army Special Force’s 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Mullinax worked at Ford’s engine plant in Brook Park. In 1957, he began selling cars at different dealerships. Six years later, he became used car manager at Graham Ford in Akron. In 1967, he became part-owner of George DiFeo Ford in North Canton.

In 1970, he turned a closed dealership into Ed Mullinax Ford in Amherst. He eventually owned 17 Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. In 1996, he sold five Northeast Ohio dealerships to AutoNation. He and his sons then began the Mullinax Auto Group, now in Florida, Alabama and Washington.

In 1993, Mullinax started buying harness racehorses. A dozen years later, his P Forty Seven won the famed Little Brown Jug race in Delaware, Ohio.

Mullinax also bought a golf club in South Amherst and renamed it Dragon Ranch after a favorite horse, Dragon Again. Jimmy Sivec, who runs the club’s pro shop, said, “He was an avid golfer and a wonderful man, great to his customers and his staff and the community. Very outgoing, very personable, very approachable.”

Mullinax belonged to the Amherst Noonday Club and the city’s St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Survivors include his wife, the former Janet Kline, three children and eight grandchildren.

His funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Hope Church in Port Orange. Dudley Funeral Home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is handling arrangements.

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