Wilton D. Looney
April 18, 1919 – June 1, 2018
Wilton Denny Looney passed away on June 1, 2018. Wilton was born to Wilton Bryte Looney and Lou Denny Looney on April 18, 1919. He spent his early years in the town of Vanna, Georgia (Hart County). After finishing high school in 1936, Wilton knew he didn’t want to continue working on his parents’ one-mule farm, so he traveled to Elberton, Georgia and found a job at Western Auto Supply Company. He worked for $10 per week, 6 days a week until he was recruited to work for Genuine Parts Company. Wilton then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and began a lifelong career and passion with Genuine Parts Company.
It was during his time in Elberton that he met Martha West. Martha’s patience allowed him to pursue his career while they dated long distance for four years before getting married.
While Wilton was in North Carolina, he was “invited” by the United States Government to join the Army. After a year of training, he spent three and a half years supervising vehicle maintenance for construction of the Burma Road during World War II, returning home as a Major on Martha and Wilton’s third wedding anniversary.
After World War II, Wilton resumed his career with Genuine Parts Company, spending a year in Atlanta before moving to New Orleans to head operations in the region. While in Louisiana, Martha and Wilton were blessed with a daughter, Sylvia. Seven years after their arrival in New Orleans, Wilton moved Martha and Sylvia to New York and then Boston to continue his career with Genuine Parts Company, before returning to Atlanta in 1955 to assume the role of President.
Wilton was fortunate to work with his mentor, Carlyle Fraser, for the next six years until Mr. Fraser’s passing. Wilton was subsequently elected Chairman and CEO of Genuine Parts Company and would serve in those positions for nearly 30 years, leading the company’s growth from $34 million to more than $3.4 billion in sales. He credits his success to the people around him, especially Earl Dolive and Bill Hatcher. Wilton was honored for his achievements with Genuine Parts Company by the Automotive Hall of Fame with a “Distinguished Service” award in 1983 and then an induction to the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Throughout his career, Wilton emphasized the importance of learning from others and strove to take advantage of any opportunities that came his way. He served on the Boards of Trustees or Directors at ten organizations around Atlanta. This allowed him to work with some incredible people – John Sibley, O. Wayne Rollins, George Craft, George Woodruff, Don Keough, Sartain Lanier, Jimmy Williams, and Lee Burge, to name a few. He claimed that he never left any board meeting without having some idea that he could apply to Genuine Parts Company.
When Wilton retired from Genuine Parts Company in 1990, he was pleased to hand leadership of the company to Larry Prince. But, he continued to maintain an office at company headquarters and attend every board meeting for the next 28 years, totaling almost 80 years with his beloved company.
Wilton’s four passions in life were his family, his career, his church, and his community. He took his civic duty seriously and was active in the Atlanta Rotary Club, the Capital City Club – where he served as Club President – and also headed the United Way. He was a trustee of the Woodruff Foundation and served on the boards of several schools including the Lovett School, Agnes Scott College, and was a founding board member of Pace Academy.
One of the most important things to Wilton was that, together with his dear friend, Dr. Linton H. Bishop, he founded the Carlyle Fraser Heart Center, located at Emory Midtown Hospital.
His survivors include his daughter and son-in-law, Sylvia and Bruce Dick, his granddaughters, Laura Dick Moses (Tom), Amy Dick Hurst (Matthew), and Allison Dick Blaisdell (Andrew) and five great-grandchildren, Calvin Ellis Dalke, Charlotte West Dalke, Taylor Courtney Moses, Henry Winn Hurst, and West Eleanor Blaisdell.
The family would like to thank Menders Inc., Lillie Johnson, Margaret Nonyane, Marvalyn McIndoe, Alicia Honore, LaTanya Ballock, Angela Taylor, Stephanie Pettway, Monique Cower, and Antonio Marquez for their constant care of both Wilton and his wife, Martha, who passed away in 2016.
In lieu of flowers, friends wishing to do so may make a memorial gift to The Carlyle Fraser Heart Center at Emory Midtown Hospital (550 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia, 30308), Northside Drive Baptist Church (3100 Northside Drive, Atlanta, Georgia, 30305), or the charity of their choice.
A visitation will be held from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, June 5th at H.M. Patterson & Son (173 Allen Rd NE, Sandy Springs, GA 30328). A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, June 6th at Northside Drive Baptist Church (3100 Northside Drive, Atlanta, Georgia, 30305) and a reception will follow at 12:30 pm at the Piedmont Driving Club (1215 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30309).
- His survivors include his daughter and son-in-law, Sylvia and Bruce Dick, his granddaughters, Laura Dick Moses (Tom), Amy Dick Hurst (Matthew), and Allison Dick Blaisdell (Andrew) and five great-grandchildren, Calvin Ellis Dalke, Charlotte West Dalke, Taylor Courtney Moses, Henry Winn Hurst, and West Eleanor Blaisdell.
- Visitation Tuesday, June 5, 2018
- Memorial Service Wednesday, June 6, 2018
- Reception Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Wilton D. Looney
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June 5, 2018
Sylvia, et al,
Your sweet, strong daddy was always there as we grew up. I fondly remember his character as the gentle giant.
Your parents made your family mine in so many ways and their lovely home as mine as you and I enjoyed the luxuries your daddy was able to provide.
Many times literally in my dreams, I have awakened with the distinct memory of swimming in their pool and your dad would be supervising from the pool house. I have enjoyed those dreams and the real memories of times not so long ago.
My very last memory of your dad was about 10 years ago when I visited. He had not changed in all the years: personable, gracious, interested and with that twinkle in his eye demonstrating just a little bit of mischievousness.
Know you are in my thoughts and prayers during this transition in your life.
June 2, 2018
I cannot remember when I did not know Mr.Looney. From the time I was a little boy in New Orleans he was always an important figure in my father's life and then mine as an employee of GPC. His integrity and work ethic permeated the company. I will always treasure that I knew him as I know many others will. To Sylvia and family, my condolences.