Sam Galloway Jr., who evolved from Ford’s youngest car dealership owner in the country to redeveloping Galloway Ford into the current complex off Boy Scout Road in Fort Myers, Florida, died Wednesday. He was 76.
Galloway Jr., who died unexpectedly but peacefully after falling asleep, according to his family, brought the dealership into the digital age. He also navigated it through the Great Recession, when sales dropped by 60-70%, yet he still asked for “110%” from his employees.
Galloway Jr. wanted to be known for more than selling Ford F-150 pickup trucks and automobiles. He never tired of speaking about and acting upon his other passion: Feeding the hungry.
In 1984, Galloway Jr. and his friends from Presbyterian Church, which he attended, and First Baptist Church and United Methodist of Fort Myers, banded together. They helped create the community non-profit organization Community Cooperative. He supported it the rest of his life as chairman emeritus, raising funds and setting it up for continued operations now that he is gone.
When The News-Press named Galloway Jr. its Person of the Decade in 2009 and Person of the Year in 2000, he said he didn’t want people to think he was just trying to sell cars.
But the paper made it clear: It had nothing to do with the cars and everything to do with feeding the hungry.
“We’re going to feed everyone,” Galloway Jr. said upon being notified of the 2009 award. “We’re going to go farther.”
Born July 15, 1944, in Miami, Galloway Jr. grew up in Fort Myers, the son of Sam Galloway Sr., renamed it to Galloway Ford.
Galloway Jr.’s grandparents, Theresa and David Shackelford, previously owned the dealership, which opened in 1927 as Lee Ford and later became Tropical Motors, according to The News-Press archives.
The original dealership had Henry Ford’s fingerprints on it, selling cars to another fellow Fort Myers winter resident, inventor Thomas Edison.
Galloway Jr. carried forward this legacy. He assumed day-to-day operations of Galloway Ford in 1971 at the age of 26-27, becoming what is believed to be Ford’s youngest managing owner of a dealership in the country at the time.
In 1992, Galloway Jr. paid $3 million for the land at 1800 Boy Scout Road that in 1996 became the dealership as it stands today. He was instrumental in relocating the dealership from its prior location off the southwest corner of U.S. 41 and Colonial Boulevard, where it had been since 1963.
Galloway Jr. took a keen interest in the community surrounding him, his friends and family said.
He and his wife, Kathy, served as the family patriarchs. They had three children, who would grow up to become active in both the community and the family car business: daughter Katherine Galloway Dougherty and her husband, Tom; son Sam Galloway III and his wife, Jennifer; and son Robert Galloway and his wife, Tracey. Galloway Jr. also had five grandchildren.
He had countless friends in the community. They included Don Overholser, president of Fort Myers American youth baseball.
“Sam was always at the baseball games all the time,” Overholser said. “I love him. He could make you feel like you meant something to him. He just treated you extremely well. He wasn’t that big-shot businessman. He just related really well to everybody.”