COLUMN: Remembering Luce Cools, the legend

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In my time in Chatham-Kent, I never purchased a vehicle directly from the one and only Luce Cools. Heck, we rarely talked about cars when we chatted.

Beer, Scotch, sports, aches and pains – those were our subjects. And a friendly joke here and there.

I now will sadly never be able to buy a car off Luce. Nor will we chat about spirits, sports and aging, as Luce left us forever last week.

Describing Luce is a bit difficult for me. You had to know him to understand. I fear what I say will not do him justice.

I’ll keep it simple. He was one hell of a decent guy and always had a smile no matter the pain he was enduring.

For more than six decades, Luce sold cars in Chatham-Kent. He’s sold to generation after generation after generation of people from the same family. If you bought a car off Luce, chances are you came back and purchased your next one off him. And you passed that onto your kids, who in turn did the same.

Luce just…well…cared. He took incredible care of his customers, earning their loyalty for years.

When not working, this was a fellow who spent more than two and a half decades on the Crime Stoppers board helping others.

And when he enjoyed his downtime, it was often with a nice view of the water, a bottle of cold beer, or a glass of fine Scotch.

Many a glass has been raised in your honour this past week, Luce. You will be greatly missed.

Don’t just take my word for it. I’ve put together some fond notes of other acquaintances of Luce.

Matt Herder, general manager at Lally Chevrolet and former new vehicle sales manager at Chatham Chrysler, said the news of Luce’s passing hit him like a “gut punch.

“Twenty years ago, I started in sales at Kent County Chrysler and met Luce Cools. We quickly became friends and for some reason he saw enough in me to share his pearls of wisdom in the car business with me,” Herder said on social media. “I owe a lot of my success to Luce and I am glad that I was able to thank him for that just the other day. He was a great friend and mentor over the years, and I will miss him dearly. My heart goes out to Dee, Vim and the rest of Luce’s family. Rest in peace and Godspeed, old friend.”

Scott Aarssen, sales manager at Volkswagen Chatham, who worked right next door to Luce for years at Chatham Mazda, called Luce a mentor.

“From my very first day in the car business, Luce Cools was there. A fixture, a mentor and a legend in our business. He was kind, funny, helpful and professional,” he said on social media. “From him, I learned tips and tricks to better my abilities that he was all too kind to share. It’s been a long while since I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a sales team with him, but I’ll never forget him. Rest in peace, sir.”

Jeremy Kowalchuk, who sold vehicles alongside Luce at Chatham Chrysler, had this to say via social media:

“A very special person/coworker/friend passed away. Legendary Luce Cools will be so missed! Sixty years selling! So happy to have known you!”

Adam Lally, president of the Lally Auto Group that oversees operations at Chatham Chrysler, said Luce had networked with so many people over the years.

“Sad day for Chatham Chrysler and so many customers and people in the automotive business that Luce has crossed paths with. I’ll remember his stories forever and we’ll be telling them over and over,” he said on social media.

Rest well, Luce, we miss you.

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