ST. LOUIS – Hundreds of people gathered inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on Tuesday to celebrate the life of local automotive icon Frank Bommarito.
From humble beginnings in south St. Louis, to helping to build one of the most successful automotive groups in the St. Louis area and beyond, Frank J. Bommarito was honored as a man of faith, who loved his family, and believed in the value of hard work.
“We’re truly honored as a family for the outpouring of support that we’ve received from the St. Louis community. It’s absolutely astonishing,” said John Bommarito, Frank’s son and president of the Bommarito Automotive Group.
Inside the Cathedral Basilica, Bommarito was remembered not just for the business he built, but the way he built it.
“When he grabbed your hand, you knew you were in the presence of someone who cared,” Msgr. Vincent Bommarito said. “Who looked at you and gave you the dignity of being a human being and special. That’s an incredible quality.”
“Some of his good friends, dear friends, preceded him to the big car lot in the sky. Dave Mungenast. Dave Sinclair. Bill Schicker. I just wonder what those four bozos are doing up there together now. What a gang!” said Dick Piatchek, Bommarito’s lifelong friend.
The Navy veteran and Golden Gloves boxer worked his way up the car industry and eventually open his first dealership in Ellisville in 1971. That Oldsmobile store became the foundation of what is now the Bommarito Automotive Group. It became Missouri’s number one dealership and one of the top 50 in the country.
“He taught us one thing: treat people as you would want to be treated in the same situation. That mantra and that culture lives with every Bommarito teammate, our 1,000 employees today,” John Bommarito said.
“He was such an icon. He was such a generous, decent man. He wanted to give people jobs, did a lot for the community, and he was such a good example for all of us,” Bommarito Automotive Group Vice President Chuck Wallis said.
Bommarito’s success afforded him to opportunity to pay it forward. He supported countless charities across the St. Louis area, especially close to his heart. The campus of his alma mater, St. Mary’s High School, is named in his honor.
“That lasting memory is every time somebody had an impression or meeting with him, he left them feeling loved and always gave them some kind of direction. I tell you what, he did that with every family member as well,” John Bommarito said.
Known for his slogan, “Where price sells cars,” those who knew Frank J. Bommarito’s best call his legacy “priceless.”