Ira J. Rosenberg

January 10, 1937March 28, 2019

Ira Jack Rosenberg of Marblehead, Massachusetts and Boca Raton, Florida, entered into rest on March 28, 2019 at the age of 82. Beloved husband of Judy A. Rosenberg and devoted father of David Rosenberg and his wife Karen, Brian Rosenberg and his husband Ferdinand, and Lori Shane and her husband Jon. Cherished grandfather of Jordan Shane and his fiancé Heather Petrovich; Shelby, Amanda, Whitney and Andrew Rosenberg; and Levi, Sadie and Ella Rosenberg-Van Gameren. Loving brother of Sandra Lebowitz and the dear son of the late Saul and Mollie Rosenberg.

He grew up in Malden, MA, and attended Malden High School. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the Navy and proudly served his country for two years. He raised his family in Marblehead, MA and in 2014, Salem State University awarded him with an honorary doctorate.

Ira Rosenberg got his first exposure to the automotive industry changing tires for a Chevrolet dealership in Cambridge in the 1960s. By the time he retired in 2017, he had built a family-run regional empire in partnership with his son David that now spans three generations.

Rosenberg’s signature broadcast jingle and popular television ads in the 1980s and ‘90s helped position Ira Motor Group as one of the most iconic, personality-driven automotive dealership brands in New England.

He began his sales career on the floor at Sea Crest Cadillac in Lynn, MA, and immediately enjoyed success as a top performer. The start of what would become Ira Motor Group was established when Rosenberg acquired his first Toyota dealership in Danvers, MA in 1975. As the company experienced steady growth over a period of 25 years, Ira Rosenberg became a familiar figure in households across the region. He was often the central cast member in Ira Motor Group TV commercials, and the company’s memorable jingle (“Ira, Ira, zero down at Ira!”) achieved a status all its own. After creating a business partnership with his son David, the two continued to grow the company and make a variety of strategic moves, including the sale of Ira Motor Group to the publicly traded Group 1 Automotive in 1999. Following a brief retirement, Ira established the beginnings of Prime Motor Group when he relocated to Maine and acquired three dealerships. Later, he would merge those operations with another company David had acquired – creating a strong market presence for the Prime brand in New Hampshire and Massachusetts as well as Maine. Once again, Ira’s offbeat and humorous performances in television commercials became a staple on local stations throughout New England. In little more than a decade, Ira and David Rosenberg built Prime into a regional powerhouse among auto dealership groups. By the time of his second retirement at the age of 80, Prime had grown to over 30 dealerships with 1,500 employees. Ira Rosenberg cherished every moment spent with his children, grandchildren, friends, and Prime family members. He was a long-time philanthropist of a diverse group of organizations and causes, including the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Lown Cardiovascular Group, the Plummer Youth Promise, Sweetser Maine Mental Health Services, Salem State University, Boca Raton Regional Hospital, in addition to many Jewish charities. Throughout his career, he personally helped countless individuals and families in need.

A funeral service for Ira will be held on Sunday March 31, 2019 at 11 a.m. at Congregation Shirat Hayam, 55 Atlantic Avenue, Swampscott, MA 01907. Interment will follow in Congregation Shirat Hayam Cemetery, Beth El Section, 506 Lowell Street, Peabody, MA 01960. Shiva will begin following services until 6 p.m. at Kernwood Country Club, 1 Kernwood Street, Salem, MA 01970. Shiva will continue on Monday, April 1st and Tuesday, April 2nd from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Shane family home in Marblehead, MA. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in Ira’s memory can be made to the Plummer Youth Promise, 37 Winter Island Road, Salem, MA 01970 or via the website listed below.


  • Judith Rosenberg, Wife
  • David Rosenberg, Son
  • Brian Rosenberg, Son
  • Lori Shane, Daughter
  • Sandra Lebowitz, Sister


  • Temple Service Sunday, March 31, 2019
  • Interment Sunday, March 31, 2019

Ira J. Rosenberg

have a memory or condolence to add?

Cheryl Crounse

April 5, 2019

The Rosenberg Family,

President Keenan and I had such a lovely visit with Ira and Judy in their home in Florida this past February. We'll keep your family in our thoughts. Please know his legacy will live on in all the programs and people that his philanthropic support benefited here at Salem State University.

Warmest regards,
Cheryl Crounse
Vice President, Institutional Advancement

Jimmy Young

April 3, 2019

Deepest condolences to a great family led by one of the true legends in the auto industry.

Rena and Bruce Fullerton

April 2, 2019

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the Rosenberg family. Our son, Greg Fullerton, worked for Ira at Prime in Maine for several years and he helped and supported Greg as he dealt with anxiety and depression.

I, like so many others in Maine, actually looked forward to his creative commercials. May Prime continue to grow as we all remember Ira’s gifts to so many through the years. God Bless!
Rena and Bruce Fullerton

tracy ehrenberg

April 2, 2019

to the entire, wonderful, rosenberg family,

i feel so lucky that ira decided to take up painting late in life, and walk into my shop (ray art) for supplies. he brought so much joy to us every time he visited, filling the air with brightness and the scent of his cologne. he always wanted to help my shop be prosperous, and even offered to work for free. he was one of a kind, and i will carry him and his fabulous! smile in my heart always.

Bea Paul

April 1, 2019

To Judy and the family. My heart goes out to all of you. Ira was a wonderful man and a loving presence in the Community. We will all miss him.
My Sincere condolences. Bea Paul

Joseph Dyson

April 1, 2019

To: Mr. David Rosenberg

Dear David,

I am very saddened by your Dads passing. Ira made a positive difference in my life. Ira was a very special and giving person, and I feel very fortunate to have known Ira.

With my deepest sympathy to you and your family,

Joseph Dyson

Arleen (Isaacs) Barnes

April 1, 2019

Dear Judy and Family

So very sorry to hear of your loss.
I met Ira only a few times, but he was always personable and friendly.
In business dealings with Irra and David at Ira dealership, my husband and I
were always treated well.
When someone from Chelsea passes or loses a loved one, the loss resonates with
all of us.
Be strong and cherish the memories.

Jim Vecchiarelli

April 1, 2019

To the Rosenberg Family: On behalf of everyone here at Toyota Financial Services we offer you are heartfelt condolences. Ira was a master of marketing and I can remember being his Area Sales Manager when he took over the Saco Toyota store. We drove around together exploring the area and every chance he got he would have me stop the car and introduce himself to everyone he could. Ira touched the heart of everyone he met and we will all miss him tremendously. Our sympathy goes out to the entire Rosenberg family.
Jim Vecchiarelli
& your Toyota Financial Services Family

Cynthia McGurren

March 31, 2019

Dear Judy and Family,
I want to add to the message of sympathy that President John Keenan sent from Salem State University, a community that truly loved Ira. From his passion for emerging artists, to his respect for spiritual life, to his commitment to our veteran students, he, and you all, have impacted Salem State in ways that could not have been possible without your support. He was family and we’ll miss him terribly, but we know you will always stay connected and his spirit will live on with us.
Cynthia McGurren

June Robideau (Landry)

March 30, 2019

Dear Rosenberg Family,
Words could never express my sadness hearing the news of Ira's passing. I have shared many stories over the years of the fondest memories from working for Ira. I never met a more loving and generous family...ever. At one time, I was possibly the only female working as an Assistant Service Manger in the North Shore. I always felt anything was possible with the love and encouragement from the whole Rosenberg family which was unmatched by any other job I ever had. Ira was a people person, funny, generous and kind. When you talked to him he looked at you. He smiled. He was like a father to me and all of us young people in the shop. I loved him and his family very much and still think of them with a full and happy heart. The good ole days I will carry with me forever and the memory of a man who was truly remarkable. My love and condolences to the Rosenberg Family and extended family.