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Auto dealer gave back to community

June 09, 2011
  • Don Packer, who owned an auto dealership on Brand Boulevard for many years, served in the military in both world wars. Photo circa 1940s. (Photo courtesy Jarrett S. Anderson)
Don Packer, who owned an auto dealership on Brand Boulevard…

Don Packer, who owned a car dealership on Brand Boulevard for many years, was well known not just for his cars, but for his philanthropy.

“He was an icon around Glendale,” said Jarrett Anderson, who was associated with him professionally and personally for many years. Anderson has recently provided Special Collections with significant material regarding the Packer family’s history in Glendale.

Packer came here as a young boy in 1911, along with his parents and sister, seeking relief from the weather in their home town of Aberdeen, Wash.

“They wanted a change of scenery because we lived in the wettest city in the United States,” Packer told the Glendale News-Press in a story published on Nov. 16, 1984.

Glendale was very small at the time, he added. But the best thing about the place was the weather. “You could enjoy sports every day of the year.”

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The elder Packer bought a tract of land at 362 Riverdale Drive and built a home for his family. In 1916, he took over the Studebaker agency on Brand.

Meanwhile, Don Packer enrolled in the newly built Glendale Union High School on Harvard Street and, after being graduated in 1914, went on to UC Berkeley. In 1917, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. He was sent to Heavy Artillery School at Augers, France, and then joined the Fifty-third R. R. Artillery.

He returned from the war as a second lieutenant and, after he was mustered out of the service in 1919, completed his work at Berkeley, graduating with the class of 1920, according to “History of Glendale and Vicinity” by John Calvin Sherer, published in 1922.

Packer joined the Celite Products Corp., which had quarries and plants in Lompoc. He returned here two years later to join his father in the auto agency. He was married to fellow Glendale Union alumnus Fern Cook.

Packer soon took over his father’s business and spent many years in the auto dealership on Brand. When he retired, he turned his skills toward expanding the Glendale Community Foundation.

Through his efforts, the organization increased in size from $25,000 when he came on board to $1 million by 1986, as noted in a 1990-91 foundation newsletter.

Carroll Parcher, then-publisher emeritus of the Glendale News-Press, wrote about Packer in the Nov. 19, 1984 edition.

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