Richard Stohlman, 75, founder and chairman of the board of both Stohlman Volkswagen/Subaru and Stohlman Mitsubishi, died of stomach cancer Nov. 10 at his home in Chevy Chase. He was a fifth generation Washingtonian.
Mr. Stohlman, whose dealerships are in Tysons Corner, founded Stohlman Volkswagen in 1971, when Tysons was still a sleepy little corner in Northern Virginia. His business expanded with the area, and he added Subaru in 1977 and Mitsubishi in 1981. He developed them as two companies.
Throughout the expansion of the businesses, which have been ranked in the top 20 nationally in sales, he maintained the family atmosphere of a small company. His Washington area dealerships continued a family tradition.
Mr. Stohlman's father founded a Chevrolet dealership in the 1930s on M Street in Georgetown, and he and his brother Ed worked at the dealership. Mr. Stohlman became vice president of the Chevrolet dealership in 1956 and started his own company in 1971. His youngest daughter, Catherine, is president of the operation.
Mr. Stohlman graduated from St. John's College High School in 1946 and from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1951. He married shortly afterward and then served in the Army. He was stationed mostly in Paris as a first lieutenant until 1956.
About 10 years ago, Mr. Stohlman changed his primary residence to Naples, Fla., but still spent part of the year in Chevy Chase and part in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He was an avid golfer and art collector, at one point taking a short-term partnership in an art gallery. Though he kept collecting art, he quickly got out of the business end, declaring that it is best to stick with what you know -- in his case, the retail end of the automobile industry.
He was a longtime member of Columbia Country Club and Rehoboth Beach Country Club.
Mr. Stohlman was active in many civic and trade associations, including Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, American Import Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA) and local and national chambers of commerce. He served on National Dealer Councils of both Volkswagen and Subaru and was a recipient of AIADA-Sports Illustrated Dealer of Distinction Award. Over the years, he was the recipient of many manufacturers awards for customer service.
He was a member of the Knights of Malta since 1987 and a lifelong member of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda. He also was a member of St. William's Catholic Church in Naples.
Five years ago, as the result of a history of cancer in his family, Mr. Stohlman set up a research grant for the study of gastric and breast cancer through the Alexandria-based Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation.
Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Marianne Darby Stohlman of Naples; four children, Richard Stohlman Jr. of New York, Barbara Stohlman Rice of Bethesda, Margaret S. Wiegand of Kensington and Catherine Stohlman Rusnak of Bethesda; and eight grandchildren.