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Beloved Valley auto dealer Tex Earnhardt passes away at age of 89

Posted at 10:06 AM, Apr 19, 2020

PHOENIX — Tex Earnhardt, a well-known face in the Valley and founder of Earnhardt Auto Centers, has passed away at the age of 89.

The auto group announced the beloved businessman's passing on their website Sunday morning.

"Seeing an opportunity to sell the very cars and trucks that he filled and serviced, Tex Earnhardt became the youngest person to ever receive a Ford franchise - just before his 21st birthday," the announcement said.

ABC15's Steve Irvin spent time with Earnhardt in February, following him for the day as he greeted customers at his flagship Chandler dealership and detailed why he still went to work every day, as he had done for 68 years.

“What the Hell else do I have to do?” he joked, to head-shaking laughter in the room.

See Steve's full story in the video player above.

Earnhardt raised a daughter and two sons. His sons and several of his grandchildren continue to be involved in running the Earnhardt Auto Centers and family's Earnhardt Ranches.

“Tex’s mark on the economic landscape of the Southwest and in the hearts of our family and Arizonans will endure for generations to come,” said Derby Earnhardt, Tex's grandson. “While we’ll go on… it’s tough to know that this great man is no longer with us…no longer atop Chisholm [the trusty steer in Earnhardt commercials] greeting our friends and customers and introducing them all to this amazing brand [that] he built.”