John F. Weinberger
1932 - 2020
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John F. Weinberger, Naperville, Illinois and Austin, Texas, passed away September 12, 2020 at his home in Austin at the age of 88. John was born in Illinois April 18, 1932 in the backseat of a Chevy, which set the stage for his lifelong passion for cars. John was the consummate car, racing, and driving fanatic with a special aura felt by all who knew him.

John's car passion also charted the course of his career, as he progressed from his humble beginnings as an apprentice garage mechanic to becoming the founder and CEO of one of the largest privately held companies in the Chicago area and one of the Top 150 dealership groups in the nation. The dealerships are located in the western suburbs of Chicago and employs over 700 people, many who have worked for the Continental Motors Group for over half their lives.

John and his younger brother Herm were partners for over 50 years. Together, they worked for the A.M. Zelke Nash dealership in Berwyn, IL before establishing Continental Motors in 1962 to specialize in the sales and service of imported cars. John specialized in sales and service while Herm focused on parts and body work in Lyons, IL. The brothers' stellar reputation among Chicago foreign car enthusiasts came to the attention of Triumph Motor Cars. They were offered the opportunity to become an authorized Triumph dealer. They also represented Jaguar, MG, and Toyota. Rapid growth dictated a move to Countryside, IL as a great place to establish a new facility. Other franchises added in the 70's/early 80's were Honda, Datsun (now Nissan), and Ferrari. John served several terms as a dedicated and respected board member of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, the Illinois Automobile Trade Association, and the American Import Auto Dealers Association.

According to his son Jay, "I didn't have to look further than my own father to find a mentor." John was the ideal mentor for both of his sons, Jay and Joel. Each of them continues to successfully operate the dealership group along with their cousin, Cheryl Nelson.

John's youngest son Joel stated "I feel so fortunate that my father and I could share our love of cars both on and off the racetrack, and I'm extra grateful of the automotive business legacy he founded and welcomed me into with open arms."

Eileen, a longtime Continental AutoSports employee, stated that "John's love of Continental is shared by all employees. He truly cared about his people and led by example. His respect for each of us made his team so strong. He had confidence in our abilities which allowed him to enjoy well-deserved time off. We love him, he will always have a special place in our hearts."

As a young man, John enjoyed racing cars and earned numerous podium finishes during the 1960's while competing in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events. He continued his winning ways by racing vintage cars to the age of 84. His racing success led to his induction into the Road Racers Drivers Club, where he joins an exclusive group of famous racers. He was a past board member of the SCCA and active member of various vintage racing clubs.

Hugh Ruthven, fellow vintage racer and friend for over 40 years, said "John wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. A bunch of guys were standing around my Bandini Formula Junior, trying to bleed the brakes. John grabbed a wrench and a few seconds later he hopped in the car to test his handiwork. He easily moved from car guy to gregarious host, starting a monthly lunch bunch of guys more than 15 years ago which, he purposely included men of various professions and political persuasions because he enjoyed the give-and-take of the conversations. John always looked at situations positively, even finding a way to stay jovial after grueling chemotherapy. He was a great leader and human being. I will miss his insights, integrity and companionship." John also formed a lunch bunch in Austin, TX.

He met his wife Lisa at a tollbooth as both were driving down the Illinois Tollway. As a research/marketing specialist, Lisa recognized him from a trade association directory. John didn't have exact change that day, and she offered him the coins and her phone number. A few years later, they had their wedding ceremony at that same tollbooth in Oak Brook, IL. For over 30 years, they participated in many vintage car races, rallies, and auctions around the world. During that time, John excelled as a savvy collector of rare and unusual vintage cars. According to Lisa, "we packed 100 years of living into the years we had together. He was the perfect soulmate of a husband who was adventurous, fun-loving, and passionate about cars. I do have faith that our lives were meant to merge."

John & Lisa dedicated much of their lives to social responsibility which will continue through their private foundation. They initiated the Continental Motors Group "Driven to Care" car giveaway program. To date, the Continental dealerships have donated 72 refurbished cars to individuals who triumphed over various challenges. He also mentored and provided scholarships to graduating high school students interested in a career involving the preservation and restoration of vintage cars. He enjoyed meeting recipients face-to-face learning how having a car or a career with cars transformed their lives. He also inspired his family dealership group to collectively donate to the construction of a new local cancer institute.

In addition to his loving wife Lisa, he is survived by previous wives Ramona (Lowy) and Joan Weinberger, sons Jay (Julie), Joel (Shannon), Bob (Linda) Forrest, and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. He will especially be missed by his pooches Chica and Alie. He was preceded in death by his brothers Joseph L. (Weinberger) Kreft (Charles Smith), Herman G. Weinberger (Shirley), Ed Weinberger and his parents John and Elisabeth Weinberger.

A special thanks to all his caregivers, MD Anderson, Texas Oncology & Amita Health Cancer Institute who helped him live a quality life til he "crossed the finish line".

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Footprints Foundation, ? of Continental AutoSports, 420 E. Ogden Ave., Hinsdale, IL 60521. The foundation funds high school graduates to further their education in vintage automotive preservation & restoration and technical training along with supporting a variety of charities in both Illinois, Texas, as well as internationally.

Arrangements are being handled by Weed Corley Fish Funeral Home. Details at dignitymemorial.com. Services will be held at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on September 21 @ 4 p.m. A private burial will take place in Hinsdale, IL and a celebration of life will be held at a later date.


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Chicago Tribune on Sep. 15, 2020.
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October 23, 2020
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Barbara Nevoral
October 1, 2020
I had the honor of meeting John and Lisa 6 years ago at the 2014 Vintage Racing National Championship Race that took place in Austin, TX. They both raced that day and although I don't recall the results of the race, I do recall meeting a couple that I nick-named "goals" for the bond they had as husband and wife. I loved that Lisa called him her "Pumpkin" and after they moved to Austin, I was blessed to get to know them as neighbors and friends as they happened to buy a home just one short mile from my house. I will never forget John's smile that lit up a room and helping them pick out new sunglasses at F1 last year. He looked so handsome in his new specs. He was treasure and the world is worse off now that he has moved on to the next part of his journey. Thank you John and Lisa for the gift of your friendship. Much love, Jules
Julia Taylor Fusselman
Friend
September 23, 2020
Lisa, I am so sorry for your loss. John was such a wonderful, caring, and thoughtful man! Ill always remember John and you coming to our door just after we had moved to Brenwood to welcome us to the neighborhood. I thought, Wow! What a great place to live!! You and he made it so much fun! Please know that my thoughts are with you and your family. John will be terribly missed!
Katy Holzer
Friend
September 22, 2020
We are so sorry to hear of John's passing and understand the void he has left in so many hearts. He was such a kind, generous, and gracious man with the biggest heart to all who met him. He will be sorely missed. Blessings to his family.
Mike & Jenny Lambert
Friend
September 21, 2020
My sincere condolences to the Weinberger family. My husband was an employee at Continental Honda in Countryside, IL. for many years until his passing Jan. 2019. My husband held a high respect for Mr. Weinberger and loved working for the Continental Motor Group. My husband would talk about him often and would tell me of conversations he and John would have. He was a wonderful person and a great employer. He treated his employees with respect. It was also my pleasure to have met Mr. Weinberger. So sorry for your loss. You have been in my thoughts. I'm sure John and Ray are having a great time up there with their car stories. Ray also had a passion for racing cars and had built a race car himself.
Eleni Bosch / Raymond C. Bosch Jr.
Acquaintance
September 19, 2020
I’m truly sorry to hear that JOHN passed away. He was always smiling, full of life, and a really wonderful person. My condolences to the Weinberger family and I hope all the wonderful memories that you have of John gets you through this most difficult time.
Laura Woll
Neighbor
September 16, 2020
I am so fortunate to have spent time with John (and Lisa). He was such a gentleman and a fierce competitor. I was able to spend some 1 on 1 time with John as he gave me a ride from Road America to Ohare a couple of time. I loved the opportunity to listen to about 2 hours of stories. Lisa and John were so generous to host me and others coming from California to a BBQ and lake cruise at Elkhart Lake. What a wonderful man!
Jeff Kline
Friend
September 16, 2020
We did not know John but the commitment to restoring Automobiles.
My Husband and Partner was a Master Mechanic & In-line Instructor at the CTA for 30 years, he also mentored many people to do their best every day in Public Transportation.
People like John need to be recognized for all the hard work they do, and to share that knowledge is one of the best persons ever!
Susan Neel
Acquaintance
September 15, 2020
Although I didn’t know John long, I’ll never forget the day I first met him. I was driving through the neighborhood (May 2019) for the third or fourth time, showing varying family members our “new” house (right next door to John and Lisa!) We were to close on the house in June. As I rounded the curve, John was walking down the driveway to get his mail. I was SO excited to meet my first neighbor!! I rolled down my window and told him my husband and I were purchasing the Novak home and I was going to be his new next door neighbor and that I wanted to introduce myself. He had the biggest grin on his face and said, “Oh how nice! It’s been for sale for quite awhile. I’m so glad to meet you. What’s your name?”
I replied, My name is Lisa”
His response, “Well, that’ll be easy to remember. That’s my wife’s name!☺ She’s resting right now as I’m taking her in for surgery today. Otherwise, I’d have you meet her.” I said, “ Oh, no worries! I’ll remember both your names, as yours is the same as my fathers.
My first interaction with John was so pleasant and welcoming. I will miss John and his tales of all the cars. A wonderful man who had a rich life: rich in experiences, rich in kindness, rich in friendships, and rich in personality. Rest well, John.
Lisa will be well cared for. ♥❤
Hugs, Lisa Redpath
Lisa Redpath
Neighbor
September 15, 2020
Reading through this made me feel happy to know how many loves were changed through Johns generosity. As a recipient of a college scholarship through their foundation, I can say with certainty that it helped so much and I will be forever grateful. Sweet dreams John.
Thank you.
Edwin C
Friend
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