Auto magnate Ed Morse honored as ‘very, very successful father', at memorial service

BOCA RATON —

As Ted Morse spoke in remembrance of his father Friday evening, he recalled Ed Morse not only as the man who built a group of 15 auto dealerships in five Florida counties, but also as a "very, very successful father."

During a packed memorial service at the Florida Atlantic University auditorium, Ted Morse recalled a time several years ago when his father supported him through an illness that caused him to be hospitalized.

"He stood with me and supported me through a tough period of time for me and for him," Ted Morse told hundreds of family, friends and employees from his various dealerships who had gathered for the service. "It meant so much to me the way he supported me."

A private funeral service was held earlier Friday for family and close friends of Morse, who died June 29 at age 91.

Ted Morse wasn't the only one to recall the personal side of Ed Morse, who was chairman and founder of Ed Morse Automotive Group. Richard Danahy spoke about his grandfather's experiences growing up as the first of four children in his Massachusetts home, his love for the Miami Dolphins and his experience as a U.S. Army Air Corps navigator during World War II.

Ed Morse received the Distinguished Flying Cross award after he helped fly his plane back to base when the co-pilot was killed and the pilot was wounded during a mission in the South Pacific.

"So much of what he and his generation did was because it was the right thing to do," Danahy said. "Grandpa was a guy that, if he told you he was going to do something, he always followed through with it because it was the right thing to do."

Ed Morse Automotive Group began in 1946 when Morse and his father, Alex, started Morse Motors. When it grew to a 2,000-vehicle fleet, it merged with National Car Rental, where Mr. Morse was an executive.

In 1961, he bought into his first dealership, Morse Holland Ford in Miami. It grew to 15 locations, some of them in Palm Beach County, with more than 1,000 employees.

"Ed really cared about his employees," speaker Dennis Drucker said. "But more, he cared about you as a person."

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