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Gentile retires after half-century run as dealer

November 23, 2010
The "baron" has laid down his sword. Joe Gentile sold his namesake Chrysler dealership in Barrington last week, ending a new-vehicle sales career that spanned 51 years. Sportscaster Chet Coppeck dubbed Gentile the Baron of Barrington while broadcasting the opening of the dealership in 1982. But Gentile's nobility is epitomized by his philanthropy to many causes. Gentile said he will continue hosting a weekday radio program that airs on the Elmhurst station he owns, WJJG-AM, 1530. The call letters represent Gentile's initials. Gentile sold his first car in 1952 at Milo Brooke Ford, on West Madison Street in Chicago. He soon became Ford's sixth best salesman in the zone, then began an ascension to general sales manager. "I was very tenacious. I wouldn't take no for an answer. Everybody you know is a potential car buyer," he said. Gentile later moved to Stella Buick in Oak Park, then Jacobs Twin Buick in Chicago. For 10 straight years in the 1970s, he ranked as Buick Division's No. 1 salesman in the United States. A 1948 graduate of Loyola Univers i t y , Gentile Donated $3.5 million To build the Joseph J. Gentile Center at t h e school's L a k e F r o n t Campus. H e also attended St. Ignatius College Prep and donated $1 million to that institution, generosity that was acknowledged by the 2000 dedication of Joe Gentile Drive in front of the school. Gentile is quick to identify his proudest industry award: his nomination by the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association for the 1995 Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award. Gentile's radio show, which airs 7-9 a.m. weekdays, promotes charities and various causes. "It's not what we achieve but what we give back that really counts," Gentile said. "That's the true secret to success."