July 25, 2012

Longtime car dealer Dick Scholfield, 89, known for honesty, integrity

Dick Scholfield represented an era when the shake of a hand was as binding as a legal contract.

Dick Scholfield represented an era when the shake of a hand was as binding as a legal contract.

That was one of Mr. Scholfield’s qualities, friends and family members said of the longtime Wichita car dealer. Mr. Scholfield died Wednesday. He was 89.

“This guy was as honest as the day is long,” said Tom Devlin, a Wichita entrepreneur and founder of Flint Hills National Golf Club. Devlin frequently hunted, fished and golfed with Mr. Scholfield over three decades. “If the dealership was in the wrong, he was going to fix it.”

Born in Fort Scott in 1922, Mr. Scholfield attended elementary and junior high school in Redfield, Kan., and graduated from Augusta High School.

After graduation he worked for Cessna Aircraft for three years before enlisting in the Air Force in 1943. When he returned to Kansas from his enlistment in 1946, he and his brother, Vic Scholfield, started a potato chip company in Winfield. They sold that business, and in 1950 they moved to Augusta to work for Hurst Ford, where Mr. Scholfield was a sales manager. They later bought a Pontiac dealership in Augusta and moved to it to Wichita in 1965, where Scholfield Buick GMC is located, at 7633 E. Kellogg.

Besides Buick and GMC, the dealership today comprises Acura, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Mr. Scholfield oversaw the dealership’s service and parts operations while his brother led its marketing and sales.

“He was a great partner,” Vic Scholfield said. “He and I hunted a lot of quail together, and he’s as good a quail shot as anyone I know in the country.”

Steve Hatchett, who first met Mr. Scholfield on the golf course in 1975 and later bought his shares in the dealership, said every morning Mr. Scholfield would park his car at the back of the dealership and walk through its service and parts areas, often stopping to talk with employees.

“He knew everybody on a first-name basis and was just loved by everyone who worked with him,” Hatchett said. “His integrity was at the highest level you could imagine. There was probably only one thing you could do to get him mad, and that was lie, cheat or steal. That was an immediate firing.”

Roger Scholfield, president of Scholfield Honda and Mr. Scholfield’s nephew, said that when he started out leading the Honda dealership, he asked his uncle for some hiring advice.

“He said, ‘Never hire someone you wouldn’t have over for a family dinner,’ ” Roger Scholfield said.

Family and friends said Mr. Scholfield filled his retirement with hunting, fishing, golfing and growing tomatoes.

“He was never to be found without his jeans and suspenders, and an orange hunting cap if it was winter, or a fishing cap with maybe a lure sticking out of it in the summer,” Roger Scholfield said.

Mr. Scholfield is survived by his wife of 64 years, Virginia; daughter Colleen and husband Dennis Richardson of Derby; son Jim of New York City; three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Augusta.

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