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Civic Leader Dies After Auto Mishap

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Civic Leader Dies

After Auto Mishap

Wendell LaCoe Killed As Car Rolls In UP

Wendell J. LaCoe, 49, general manager of the Huron Motor Sales, and an Ann Arbor civic leader, died yesterday afternoon three hours after the car he was driving rolled over on US-2 just east of Gulliver, in the Upper Peninsula.

Mr. LaCoe was returning to Ann Arbor from a deer-hunting trip in company with James O. Kelly, Ann Arbor attorney, and Walter W. Springer, local insurance agent, when the accident occurred. Both Kelly and Springer suffered bruises but were not seriously hurt.

Troopers from the Manistique state police post said Mr. LaCoe died in Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital without regaining consciousness about three hours after 1:20 p.m. mishap.

Tire Blows Out

The three Ann Arbor men were driving east toward Gulliver when the left rear tire blew out. The blowout pulled the car into the oncoming lane, Kelly said. LaCoe was able to regain control temporarily and pulled the car over across the eastbound lane and onto the dirt shoulder of the road.

Kelly said the car started to roll when the left rear wheel hit the dirt. He said it overturned “three or four times.”

Mr. LaCoe was thrown from the machine and was lying about 20 feet from the car when Kelly reached him. Troopers said he died of a skull fracture.

Neither Kelly nor Springer thrown from the car. Kelly was in the front seat alongside LaCoe and Springer was in back.

Was Active In Civic Affairs

Mr. LaCoe was an active member of many civic groups. He was a cast president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, president of the Ann Arbor Kiwanis Club (1946), president of the Chamber of Commerce (1947), campaign chairman for the Community Chest (1948), and president of the board of directors of the YMCA (1949).

He was a member of the First Methodist Church and the Ann Arbor Elks Lodge.

Mr. LaCoe was born June 7, 1904, in Clark’s Summit, Pa., a son of Joseph Allen and Jennie May LaCoe. His mother survives.

He received a bachelor's degree from Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pa., in 1927, and attended the University Law School in 1928 and 1929. He attended the U-M School of Business Administration in 1930 and 1931.

Joined Firm In 1928

While in school here, he joined the Huron Motor Sales in 1928 as a salesman. He was promoted to sales manager in 1930 and to general managed in 1942.

He married Elsa M. Carley on Aug. 2, 1930. She died Dec. 1, 1946. He married Esther Ramsdell on Nov. 1, 1947, in Ann Arbor. She survives.

Mr. LaCoe is also survived by a son, Stephen G.; a daughter, Suzann, both at home; a sister, Mrs. Blanche Thompson; and four brothers, William A., Archie G., Harry S. and Mr. LaCoe’s twin brother, J. Wallace LaCoe. All are Pennsylvania residents.

Mr. LaCoe’s home here was at 104 Arbana Dr.

Funeral services for Mr. LaCoe will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the First Methodist Church, with Dr. Merrill R. Abbey, assisted by the Rev. Robert H. Jongeward of Battle Creek, officiating. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery.

Friends may call at the Muehlig Chapel beginning tomorrow and until 11 a.m. Monday. The body will lie in state at the church from noon until the hour of the services.