Longtime Midland Car Dealer Dirk B. Waltz Remembers As “Auto Industry Legend”

Dirk Waltz, founder of Dirk Waltz Buick in Midland, died on Wednesday. He was 97 years old.

MIDLAND – One of Midland’s oldest businessmen is remembered as a hardworking and trustworthy person.

Dirk B. Waltz, founder of Dirk Waltz Buick, died Wednesday at MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland. He was 97 years old.

“The man was everyone’s friend,” said Alan Ott, retired chairman and chairman of the Chemical Bank.

Waltz served on the board of directors of Chemical Financial Corp. from 1960 to 1983.

“He was a good businessman because he trusted people and people trusted him,” Ott said. “He was an interesting man who had a lot of good people around him. He was intelligent and very philanthropic.

Born September 16, 1913, Waltz served as a turret gunner for the US Navy during World War II and was a member of the Midland Rotary Club.

He married Charlotte “Jean” Waltz in 1935 in Midland and the couple had two children, Gretchen Waltz and Dirk D. Waltz.

Jean Waltz died in 1994.

After Dirk B. Waltz retired at the age of 70, his son and grandson, Dirk D. Waltz and Dirk A. Waltz took over the concession at 718 E. Buttles St.

Tim Nash, vice president of strategic and corporate alliances and professor of economics at Northwood University, called Waltz an “auto industry legend.”

dagger with dog old photo.jpg

“What a great man,” said Nash, who, as a student at Northwood, first met Waltz in the 1970s.

“He was in his sixties; just a wonderful, energetic guy, ”Nash said. “He had built a very successful business. I just remember him as being very nice.

Nash said that during his prime, Waltz devoted much of his time and business skills to college, including helping with fundraising, giving talks to guests, and serving on panels. dealers.

He noted that three generations of the Waltz family have been involved in the management of the concession founded by Dirk B. Waltz.

“This is one of the oldest family dealerships and frankly they are gearing up for the fourth generation,” Nash said. “The fact that some of the younger people are starting to consider running the business is a testament to the foundation Mr. Waltz established in 1945 when he started the dealership. “

Tom Thelen, chairman of Thelen Auto Group in Bangor Township, said he did not know Waltz personally, but his reputation predated him.

“He had a splendid reputation in the industry,” Thelen said. “He was more of a naturalist, he liked the outdoors. “

In the early 1960s, Waltz opened Waltz’s Animal Farm on 2 acres of land in his summer home on the shores of Saginaw Bay in Linwood. The farm, free to the public, was occupied by dozens of animals, including chickens, a donkey, a cow, horses and deer. Waltz also owned a Saint Bernard named Max.

Waltz news story.jpgA 1968 Times article about Waltz’s animal farm in Linwood.

In a 1968 Bay City Times article, Waltz spoke of his love for animals.

“People told me it would never work. They said all of these different types of animals just wouldn’t get along, ”Waltz said. “Instead, you couldn’t ask for greater harmony.”

Rachael Walsh, a Linwood resident helping restore the Linwood Icehouse Museum, a project supported by Waltz, said the petting zoo is a staple in the Linwood Beach community.

“Papa Dirk – that’s what I would call him – loved this petting zoo,” said Walsh, who lived down the road from Waltz. “He loved to have fun and was a good neighbor. I think he would be happy to know that everyone thought he was a good neighbor.

Waltz’s funeral is Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Presbyterian Memorial Church, 1310 Ashman St. Interment service at Midland City Cemetery, 3220 Orchard Drive, at 3 p.m. Reverend Wallace H. Mayton III officiates the service.

Funerals are hosted by Ware Smith Woolever Funeral Home, 1200 W. Wheeler St. Visitation is 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday and at the church at 10 a.m. on Saturday until time of service.

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