Samuel G. Swope
1926 - 2014
Pearson Funeral Home
149 Breckenridge Lane
Louisville, KY
Swope, Samuel G.,

88, chairman emeritus and founder of Sam Swope Auto Group and one of Louisville's most respected and influential civic leaders, died peacefully on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, with family by his side.

Born August 24, 1926, in Lakewood, OH, Swope served as a Petty Officer, Second Class, in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946. He was assigned as a Mineman with a Diver First Class-rating in underwater mine disposal, and later told friends that he relished his weekends, never knowing if each diving day would be his last. After the service, he earned a degree in marketing from Ohio State University in 1949.

Sam worked as a salesman for Columbus Coated Fabrics in Ohio. In late 1951 he purchased a Dodge Plymouth dealership in Elizabethtown, founding Swope Motors, Inc.

He entered the Louisville market in 1957, opening Swope's Plymouth City on Dixie Highway, and bought a Chrysler Plymouth store in St. Matthews in 1960, shifting to Pontiac in 1961. "That's when I began to make a living," he said. He built the Shelbyville Road Pontiac dealership in 1965, making it the first of the large suburban dealerships in Louisville.

In 1984, he bought 48 acres at I-64 and Hurstbourne Parkway, half of which would become Swope Discount AutoCenter. Sam leaves an astounding legacy. He dominated the new and used car business in Louisville for six decades, representing Acura, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Ram, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

His slogan, "Nobody Walks Away!" helped to make him a local legend, and he prided himself on serving all strata of Louisville drivers. He was known and respected among car retailers throughout the country, and was elected chairman of national and regional dealer councils. In 1965 and 1975, he served as president of the Greater Louisville Automobile Dealers Association, and directed the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association from 1980 to 1984. He was the regional winner of the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award in 1971, which honors American car dealers for exceptional performance combined with distinguished community service.

While primarily an automobile dealer, he helped better the lives of many, especially children and animals through his philanthropic efforts. He believed that giving back to the community where he made his living was not an obligation, but indeed a privilege that he willingly accepted. His emphasis on community resonated with legions of customers, colleagues, and friends. In 2004, he established the Sam Swope Family Foundation, which contributed millions to numerous causes, many in Louisville and Orlando, Florida. He provided leadership for the creation of the following: the Kentucky Humane Society Sam Swope Pet Treatment and Lifesaving Center, Sam Swope Care Center at the Masonic Homes of Kentucky, and the Sam Swope Scout Center for the Lincoln Heritage Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2009, the Advertising Federation of Louisville recognized Swope as the Louisvillian of the Year. In 2014, the Louisville Forum honored him with the Fleur De Lis Award, and the University of Louisville awarded him an honorary Doctorate in Public Service for his contributions to the Louisville community throughout his career.

His long and distinguished roster of civic activities included service on the Boards of University of Louisville, Norton Healthcare, Republic Bank & Trust Co., Louisville Area Chamber of Commerce, Louisville Water Company, Elizabethtown/Hardin County March of Dimes, and Kosair Charities. In 1998, Kosair Charities established the Sam Swope Leadership Award to recognize outstanding community leaders. In 2000, he was inducted as a Laureate in the Junior Achievement's Kentucky Business Hall of Fame.

Swope played as hard as he worked. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was notorious for telling a good joke. He was an avid boater, both on the Ohio River and in Florida, and a longtime motorcyclist, riding the Alps numerous times. He was still riding in the months leading up to his death. Loved ones remember him also as a world-class storyteller, giving virtuoso performances at family gatherings for hours on end.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lytle and Dorothy Swope, of Casselberry, FL, a grandson, Gavin Winkler, and several well-loved pets.

Swope is survived by his wife Marlys; son, Brad Swope (Ann); daughters Susan Swope and Patricia Swope (Rich Van Camp), all of Louisville; brother F.W. "Bill" Swope (Betty) and his extended family of Elizabethtown; grandchildren Travis Winkler of Louisville, and Julia Winkler of Naples, Fl.; stepsons Mark Erwin (Kelly), Donald Erwin (Missy) of Louisville; step-grandchildren Adam, Dale, Zach and Chloe Erwin.

A Masonic Blue Lodge Service will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, followed by a Rose Croix Scottish Rite Service at 7 p.m., Pearson's Funeral Home, 149 Breckenridge Lane, Louisville. Public visitation is Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 4 to 7 p.m. at Southeast Christian Church, Fellowship Hall 1, 920 Blankenbaker Parkway, Louisville. Funeral service will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary of Southeast Christian Church, followed by private burial in Cave Hill Cemetery.

Per Sam's wishes, the family requests that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to support your favorite cause, or one of his: Kosair Charities, 982 Eastern Parkway, Louisville, KY, 40217, or the Kentucky Humane Society, 241 Steedly Dr., Louisville, KY, 40214.

Published by Courier-Journal from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, 2014.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Pearson Funeral Home
149 Breckenridge Lane, Louisville, KY
11:00a.m. - 2:00p.m.
Southeast Christian Church
Fellowship Hall 1, 920 Blankenbaker Parkway, Louisville, FL
Funeral service
Southeast Christian Church
920 Blankenbaker Parkway, Louisville, FL
Funeral services provided by:
Pearson Funeral Home
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30 Entries
Sam was a very good friend and fraternity brother going back to 1947 at Ohio State and Kappa Sigma. He helped me buy my first
Car -a1940 Chtysler convertalble in 1948. I believe that there were very few autos made in the war period.-1941 to 1946. We have kept in touch.
Dick Vikander
February 25, 2015
Charles Jackson
December 27, 2014
Sam, I am so glad to have known and admired you for all these years. The rides...the laughs...the Pay it Forward man you were. I just wish we could ride once more! God gave us a wonderful man in you. Prayers for the Swope family. No one will ever fill the void Sam left. It has been a blessing and honor to know you. Ride that highway in the sky...
Pamela Truax
December 16, 2014
Sam was always an inspiration and a man to look up to... he taught me a lot during my tenure with the Swope organization. Always kind and generous to a fault. My sympathy to the Swope Family.
Harry Williams
December 16, 2014
Thank you for always making us feel special and welcome in your house.
Deb & Jacki Dicks
December 12, 2014
We will miss you dearly Sam, you were an amazing man, friend and neibor! We were so blessed to have known you, we will always admire you.
Love James, Deb, James & Jacqueline Dicks
December 12, 2014
prayers go out to the family . I worked for Sam 1992-1995 t was a business associate from 1995 to 2014 during my employment with Bank one & Chase. Respected him very much.
William Bill Stirsman
December 12, 2014
Patty, Susan, and Brad, please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. We had many fun times riding motorcycles together between 1987-1995. He was very generous to the riders, taking us on his boat and showing us how to be generous to others and helping those in need. Plus, he always had some great stories for us! Louisville has lost a true "gem". My prayers will be with you during this difficult time.
Stephen Steilberg, OD
December 12, 2014
Prayers to the family and friends of Sam Swope
West End Family
December 12, 2014
A true kind gentlemen who always sang the praises of his beloved Louisville. He surrounded himself with the best minds and ran car dealerships with integrity.Generous with his time and money but most importantly classy doing it. Great mentor.
Ray & Marian Sandbek
December 11, 2014
Every time Sam walked through the doors of Kosair Charities, he immediately lit up the room! We will all miss his humor and that twinkle in his eyes that kept us all smiling. My sincere condolences to the entire Swope Family. He will be missed.
Vicky Weber
December 11, 2014
Fair winds and following seas on this your final voyage until moored in peaceful waters in heaven! Rest your oars and stand easy old salt…you have been relieved brave warrior we have the watch. Until we meet again on Fiddlers Green, RIP “SHIPMATE” I believe that my Dad had said years ago that Mr Swope was my Dad's Best Man at his wedding
Gerald Bloomer
December 11, 2014
We extend deepest sympathy to the Swope Family in the loss of Sam. He was a great man and will be sorely missed.
Ken and Bonnie Meredith
December 11, 2014
I first met Mr. Swope when I sold advertising coupons for Val Pak in the early 80s. He was always very nice and a tough business man - and I always have remembered him fondly. So sorry for your loss.
December 11, 2014
Patty, there are not enough words on this earth to praise Sam. He was a good friend, loved by so many. John and I have so many fond memories of your dad. I am so sorry that John and I are out of town and cannot attend the services. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. God bless. Take care.
Mary Reisert
December 11, 2014
Such an Honor to know him,
Edye Rivera
December 11, 2014
marlys,out of town,but want to express my sympathy to you and family.sam was a special guy and will be missed by all of us.
December 11, 2014
You will be missed and you have touched many lives. I am thankful to our Heavenly Father, that we crossed paths in this life.
December 11, 2014
With such an amazing memory, wit, and gift for story telling, I loved talking about cars and motorcycles with Mr. Swope.. I especially loved his stories about working with my Grandfather at the Pontiac dealership in the 1960's.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all this Christmas season.
joe mees, jr
December 11, 2014
A man that made a difference a true
American in everyway. Will be missed by
all !
Sonny Conn
December 11, 2014
it was a privilege to have know you and an honor to have worked for you in the 1980.
jerry anderson
December 11, 2014
God Bless!! & sincere condolences to your family...Thank you for a job well done...A caring person in Louisville,Ky....
December 10, 2014
Susan and Family
May you find comfort and peace in knowing others are with you In thought and prayers.
Joseph and Mary Hornek
December 10, 2014
To the family of Mr. Sam Swope you all have my deepest sympathy.Such a nice man that will be missed.Debbie Whittenberg
December 10, 2014
i would like to organize a motorcycle ride to honor Sam to start at the old K mart on dixie hwy friday at 5pm and proceed to Southeast Christian Church if that would be ok with the Swope family. Please contact me at 572-7832 if that would be ok and help to get the word out. Thanks Earl Scott
earl scott
December 10, 2014
What a remarkable man and what a privilege to call him friend. His legacy of love and friendship will always be a beacon to those who know him.
Clayborne & Brenda Gwyn, Marion, VA
December 10, 2014
Brad and Ann -
We were sad to hear of Sam's passing. He was quite a legend in Louisville. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Joann(Dentinger) and Mike Riggs
December 10, 2014
Patty, Prayers and condolences to you and the whole Swope family. Sam was a great guy that will be truly missed by all that had the good fortune to have known him.
Terry Haycraft
December 10, 2014
May the lessons Sam taught us and the love he showed us carry us into wonderful memories of a great man. He will be missed.
Sherry Higgins
December 10, 2014
We should all aspire to be as philanthropic as Mr. Swope. I met him through a mutual friend and never forgot his kindness and generosity. Heaven gained another great angel. Prayers and condolences to the Swope family.
Dr. Jennie C. Denker, RN, MSN
December 10, 2014
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