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Retired car dealer had ‘a love for life’

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By Chris Sardelli

Ronnie Queen’s family will always remember his positive attitude.

Queen, who owned and operated Ronnie Queen Ford off S.C. 9 Bypass for 20 years, died Feb. 26 after a 13-year struggle with cancer. He was 66.

Throughout it all, his daughter, Deana Queen-Gasque, said his perpetual happiness was inspiring.

“If you ever met my Daddy, he’d say, ‘I’m fine, I’m just fine,’” Deana said. “His attitude always made people feel better.”

Queen was born in Gastonia, N.C., in 1942, and his family moved to Lancaster when he was 9.

Along with his parents, Lois and W.J. Queen, he lived alongside his two younger sisters, Penny and Kandy, and loved spending time with his brother, Danny.

His family remembers how he made money as a teenager working at the Shell Station on North Main Street, earning $5 for a day by washing cars.

When he was 16, his father, W.J. Queen, drowned and Ronnie became the man of the house. He joined the U.S. Air Force, and after two years of service, returned to Lancaster at age 18.

“When he came back, he met his girl,” Deana said.

“His girl” was Linda Wood from Bessemer City, N.C. The two fell in love, married and moved to Gastonia, where they lived until 1974.

While there, Queen went to auto diesel school, then worked as a mechanic, parts manager and service manager. In 1969, he opened Queen Marine Sales. He sold the business when he moved back to Lancaster in 1974.

That’s when Queen opened his own Ford dealership here. He operated it until his retirement in 1994.

“He had some wonderful customers and wonderful memories from that dealership,” said his wife, Linda. “He loved it. Even some of his employees are longtime friends. He kept in touch with many customers and employees.”

“He really liked people,” said his daughter, Deana. “I hope people remember his generosity. He was great.”

That generosity came out in his work as a Shriner and a Mason, his family said.

His wife said he took local teens into his home when they needed help, but “he never bragged about it.”

Deana said her father’s favorite holiday was Christmas because he loved giving gifts and doing nice things for people.

Over the last few years, Ronnie Queen kept busy fishing and shrimping on his boat, The Best Chance, named after his grandson.

He also enjoyed spending time with his children, Deana and Ronnie, and his four grandchildren – Chance, 11, Ali, 7, Elliot, 8 and Katherine, 5.

Always known for trying new things, Queen played golf and rode dirt bikes.

“He didn’t just want to ride in a boat; he got his captain’s license. He didn’t just want to fly; he got his pilot’s license,” Deana said. “He liked going and doing.”

“He worked at everything ’til he was good,” Linda said. “One of his friends called him the Energizer Bunny.”

Through all the good and bad times, Deana said her father had a great outlook on life.

“I remember his attitude, his love of life,” Deana said.

In a eulogy for her brother, the Rev Dr. Kandy Queen-Sutherland said Ronnie was always energized by the people around him.

“Anyone who knew Ronnie knows that he was a true used car salesman. For him, every day was show time... and life was his stage. That never ended,” she wrote. “Ronnie cast a wide shadow. There are a thousand stories to tell.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416