Donald M. Toresco

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Donald M. Toresco

AGE: 71 ? Harding

Donald M. Toresco, (71), a pioneer in the automotive retail business, died Sunday February 20, 2011, at his home in Harding surrounded by his family. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Mr. Toresco began his career as a young boy. "Mr. T," as he was known to friends and colleagues, would succeed in becoming one of most recognized names in the automotive business in America. He began working for his father at Dom's Auto Sales in various capacities in 1958, including salesman. In 1962, Mr. Toresco enlisted in the U.S. Army and served until honorably discharged in 1964. While in the Army, Mr. Toresco received two years of in-service college credit. Upon his return, Mr. Toresco was instrumental in helping grow his family's automobile business and also opened his very own Somerset Motors in North Plainfield. Less than four years later, he teamed with Chrysler, capitalizing on the success of his dealership, and launched North Plainfield Dodge. Car buyers traveled to New Jersey from New York and Pennsylvania to take advantage of North Plainfield Dodge's reputation for value priced vehicles and readily available financing. The dealership quickly grew into a major regional Dodge dealership, so in 1975 Mr. Toresco re-branded the store under the name Dodgeland. At the time it was the largest Chrysler Corporation dealership in the country. Aware of the enormous popularity of auto shows, Mr. Toresco had a vision to give car buyers a similar experience at retail to comparison shop different brands of vehicles and models all at one place. His vision was realized in the early 1980's when he secured 26 acres of property on Route 22 East in Springfield, New Jersey. It was here the nation's first "auto mall" would be built? Autoland, home of Toyota, Ford, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep franchises along with a multi-million dollar inventory of used cars and trucks. During his career Mr. Toresco established many other dealerships throughout the East Coast including Autoland of Easton, Autoland of Georgia, Lexus of Englewood, Toms River Lincoln Mercury Mazda, Ocean Chevrolet Jeep, Toyotaland of Springfield, Crystal Automall, which sells Toyota, Scion and Mazda, and Dom's Kia Isuzu. A pioneer in the automotive industry, Mr. Toresco was one of the first auto dealers to implement a computerized finance system, enabling bank contracts and paperwork to be electronically stored and printed. Realizing that the health and well being of his employees has a direct impact on the customer experience, Mr. Toresco was one of the first automobile dealership owners to implement an extensive employee assistance program, managed by a certified therapist and counselors. Having the sincere belief that Customer Satisfaction is the most important aspect of any transaction; Mr. Toresco's automobile dealerships achieved numerous awards and honors from manufacturers, vendors and the local community. Donald Toresco was personally cited by Lee Iacocca for "Outstanding performance and the highest degree of professionalism,." winning the Chrysler "Award of Excellence." Autoland was also named "Best Overall Dealership in America" By the Dodge Chargers Club. He was an industry leader serving as Chairman of the Dodge Advertising Association; a First Charter Member of the Ram Chargers Club; Chairman of the National Dodge Dealers Advisory Council; a member of the Board of Directors of the Toyota Dealers Advertising Association; and a member and officer of the Toyota Dealer Council. The Toresco family of dealerships continues to be active in a variety of community and charity organizations. And Donald Toresco personally served as Chairman of the American Diabetes Association "Dealers for Diabetes" program, the Dodge Open Charity Classic Golf Tournament, Toys for Tots, and Deborah Hospital. Mr. Toresco had a long-standing commitment to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Epilepsy Foundation of America and The GP Foundation for Cancer Research, which supports the best and brightest researchers in the nation and ensures that the most cutting edge cancer research will be supported and nurtured. He was also a long time contributor to the . Locally, he was a supporter of D.A.R.E., the Good News Home for Women, a non-profit organization aiding women who have become victims of substance abuse, and The Two Hundred Club of Union County which provides financial assistance to the families of fallen police and firefighters. Mr. Toresco received numerous awards and honors, including the highest award by the New Jersey Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association.

He is predeceased by his sister Tracy Ginsberg. He is survived by his children, Albert Toresco, Randie Scialabba, Tracey Toresco, Dominick Toresco, Donald, Jr Toresco and Linda Camalari; three sisters Patricia Galasso, Jennifer Amorosa. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9pm at Higgins Home for Funeral 752 Mountain Blvd. Watchung NJ. Funeral services will begin at 9:15 am on Thursday February 24, 2011 at Higgins Home for Funerals followed by a 10:30am a Mass of the Resurrection at St. Mary's R.C. Church in Watchung. The interment will be at Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to at www.komen.org or The Epilepsy Foundation of America at www.epilepsyfoundation.org or The at www.cancer.org

Published in Courier News on Feb. 21, 2011
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