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IN MEMORY. . .
Michael A. Barruzza
MEMBER PROFILE. . .
Thomas A. McPherson
Thomas A. McPherson, undisputedly the auto hobby’s most authoritative historian and prolifically-published author on the topic of ambulances, funeral cars and the specialist coachbuilders that created them, died February 25th, 2021 at the age of 73 after collapsing in the driveway of his Toronto, Ontario home. He leaves behind his wife Cindi, daughter Meaghen Clark and hundreds of friends and fans affiliated with The Professional Car Society (PCS) and Professional Cars International (PCI).
This Shelby, Ohio native was only 10 years old when he first got hooked on hearses and ambulances through the ads he clipped from a stack of old mortuary trade magazines he’d acquired from a funeral home that was cleaning house, and had accumulated more than 2,000 coachbuilder sales brochures and factory photos by the time his Crestline-published 1973 tome AMERICAN FUNERAL CARS AND AMBULANCES SINCE 1900 became the first serious and comprehensive book-length survey of professional car history. Despite its “acquired taste” subject matter his affectionately-nicknamed “Black Book” found a fervent following among funeral directors and emergency service personnel who spent their careers working with these vehicles, which proved instrumental in creating an enthusiastic membership base for the Professional Car Society co-founded by George Hamlin and Dwight Heinmuller in 1976.
PCS Publications Director Walt McCall, auspiciously introduced to McPherson on March 10th, 1970 (“How’s that for recall?,” he reminisces) by an editor at the WINDSOR (Ontario) STAR who was dumbfounded to discover he had TWO “hearse-storians” on his newsroom staff, expressed thanks after Tom’s passing for their 51-year friendship and the scores of feature articles Tom contributed THE PROFESSIONAL CAR, asserting “it’s miraculous how our paths crossed at all when you look at what resulted from it. He’d deluge me with pictures no matter the subject.” Over the years Tom’s PCS extended family also embraced the other books in which he exhaustively chronicled the histories of individual funeral coach and ambulance builders like Flxible (1993), Eureka (1994), Superior (1995) through his own Specialty Vehicle Press and his Iconografix-published Complete Histories of The Henney Motor Company in 2009 and Miller-Meteor in 2010. In addition to authoring THE DODGE STORY for Crestline Publishing in 1975 and collaborating with Walt McCall on Iconografix photo archive books celebrating 1900-1979 Classic American Ambulances (1999), 1937-1987 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Limousines (2009) and 1933-1948 Carved-Panel Hearses (2011), McPherson even manufactured professional cars of his own in Toronto after teaming up with Vancouver, B.C. coach dealer Howard Carter during the 1980s to revive the venerated 1871-1964 Eureka brand for a broad, historically-inspired range of Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac funeral vehicles that even included 1930s style town car hearses.
Gregg D. Merksamer, Publicity & Media Relations
ABOUT THE ALSO-ATTACHED PHOTOS: Canadian “hearse-storian” Thomas A. McPherson has his picture taken with the stately, Flxible-bodied 1964 Buick Premier funeral coach/ambulance “combination” shown by Walter Lindsey of Loudonville, Ohio at the Professional Car Society’s 2011 International Meet in Hudson, Ohio.
News and Notes . . .
Volunteer/Bluegrass Chapter meet for May, 2021
PCS Volunteer & Blue Grass Chapter Meet- May 14-16, 2021- Owensboro, Kentucky!
Back by popular demand, even after having to be scuttled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Outbreak after being fully sat and planned out we will be finally bringing back our Owensboro Kentucky Spring Chapter Meet for 2021 that will be held on Friday May 14th through Sunday morning May 16th 2021!!!
Friday May 14, 2021- At 1:00 p.m. CST we will meet at Muster Coach Company located at 300 Main Street Calhoun, KY for a tour of the dealership and lots to view the current stock of new and used hearses and limousines. From Muster’s it will be on to a favorite area eatery of the chapter, Moonlite BBQ Buffet Restaurant 2840 West Parrish Ave. Owensboro, KY 42301. After departing Moonlite it will be back to the host hotel Fairfield by Marriott 800 Salem Drive Owensboro, KY 42301 (270) 688-8887 or (270) 688-8348. Rates before taxes are $92.00 per night and remember to ask for the PCS Professional Car Society rate when making your reservations for that weekend! This special rate is only good till April 17th, 2021! The remainder of the evening will be free to hang out and fellowship in the hotel parking lot and find dinner later on.
Saturday May 15th 2021- At 9:00 a.m. it will be breakfast at the hotel or at Denny’s located next door to the hotel. From there we will tour noted area cemeteries, Resurrection, Rosehill-Elmwood and maybe a couple others. After cemetery touring we will eat lunch at a local restaurant (to be determined). After lunch we will go to the Consumers Mall (consignments and antiques) 2930 KY-144 Owensboro, KY. If time permits we will/can also tour the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art before the evening cruise in at 4:00 p.m. that will be held at Ritzy’s 4527 KY-54 Owensboro, KY ritzysofowensboro.com. We will have dinner here and take part in the Saturday night Cruise In! After Ritzy’s it will be back over to Denny’s for evening coffee and desert and then on to the hotel for more parking lot fellowship!
Sunday May 16, 2021- After breakfast fair wells safe journeys home everyone and thanks for coming!!!
***COVID-19 Protocol for the State and Commonwealth of Kentucky along with Social Distancing and face masks mandates will be followed where applicable.***
Meet information/questions and RSVP-
Stephen Mayfield- 1 (270) 302-0328 or
Jeremy D. Ledford- 1 (615) 604-8725
PCS MAGAZINE WINS NATIONAL AWARD
April, 2021: The Professional Car, Walt McCall, editor, once again wins the GOLDEN QUILL 2020 award under the category of "National Luxury". Congratulations to Walt and all the others whose hard work make this magazine a national award winner!
PASSING OF MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF PCS...
Michael A. Barruzza, 72, of Bensalem, PA passed away on April 12, 2021. Mike was the past President of the PCS (1995-1997) and a longtime and loyally active PCS Northeast Chapter member. Mike was also a peerlessly visionary liaison between the PCS and CLC who was instrumental in the 1999 creation of the Cadillac & LaSalle Club Award we still present annually to the highest scoring Cadillac or LaSalle-based pro-car at the PCS International Meets. You can read his obituary HERE.
Thomas A. McPherson, 73, of Toronto, Ontario, passed away on February 25th, 2021. Tom was undisputedly the auto hobby’s most authoritative historian and prolifically-published author on the topic of ambulances, funeral cars and the specialist coachbuilders that created them.
David Anthony “Tony” Karsnia, age 49 of East Bethel, Minnesota, passed away on Monday, November 2, 2020. Tony was the past President of the PCS (2014 - 2020). You can read his obituary HERE. Click HERE to read President Steinberg's eulogy.
Sandy Roegner, age 62 of Whitmore Lake, Michigan, passed away on October 27, 2020. Sandy was well known throughout the PCS community and was the Vice President of the PCS Motor City Chapter. You can read her obituary HERE.
Earl "Buck" Wendt, age 83 of Moline, Illinois passed away on October 10, 2020.
Buck was a longtime PCS member and Funeral Director. You can read his obituary HERE.
Keith G. Milligan, Sr., of Seekonk, Massachusetts passed away on October 1, 2020. You can read his obituary HERE.
Doug Scott, age 73 of Glendale, CA, passed away on September 25, 2020. Doug was well known throughout the PCS as a vintage hearse and ambulance salesman. You can read his obituary HERE.
Jay Carollo passed away on August 23, 2020 at the age of 68. Jay was a former Professional Car Society member and an active forum member. You can read his obituary HERE.
Carlton Ham passed away on January 8, 2020 at the age of 76. Carlton dates to the early years of the PCS. You can read his obituary HERE.
Dennis Shira, long-time PCS member, passed away on January 29, 2020 at the age of 68. You'll find is obituary HERE.
WELCOME NEW PCS MEMBERS...