The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. This week, museum staff is telling us about Vic’s Auto Service & Supply which operated in Lowell during the middle of the 20th Century. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
Victor L. Clemenz was born into a large family in 1912. His parents were Edward Clemenz and Elizabeth Althaus Clemenz.
He worked as a mechanic’s apprentice in a local garage. He then went on to complete the Motor Institute of America’s training courses. He worked for A.H. Stormzand and McQueen Motor Company. In 1937 He married Gladys Rickert. She had attended Davenport Business College and worked as a legal secretary for a law firm. Together they started “Vic’s Auto Service & Supply” in 1941 and bought the one-stall Sinclair Oil service station at the corner of Main and Center Streets. He made multiple additions, and even sold used cars. Gladys handled the accounting.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Vic joined many other young men and enlisted in the armed services. During his physical examination the doctor found that Vic had a heart murmur and declared him unfit for military service.
As time passed, Vic became the first aftermarket parts supplier in town. When a few of the local high school boys came by his shop, not only did he sell them the parts, but he lent them his tools to work on their own cars at his shop and taught them what to do. Later he would find out one of these young men went go on to open his own garage.
In 1964, after serving the town of Lowell as a mechanic for 36 years, Vic passed away at the young age of 52 from melanoma.
Many years after Vic’s passing, the doctor who had declared Vic unfit for military service confided in his widow Gladys, “Vic never had a heart murmur. He was too valuable to the town and I wasn’t going to let him go!”
When he died in 1964, his wife carried on the business without the used car sales. In 1966, the business was taken over by their son-in-law, Rex L. Dowling. In 1970 the parts, machinery, office furnishings and showcases were auctioned off. Gladys rented out the building and it is still owned by family today.