Jim Mayhew’s life was more than selling cars
The 91-year-old, who passed away Monday, was also a farmer and a volunteer firefighter.
Most importantly, his son, business partner and best friend Bob said Tuesday:
“He was a good man. He wouldn’t say a bad word about anybody. He always tried to help the underdog because we were underdogs.”
His was a rags-to-riches story, from dropping out of school in 8th-grade to help support his family to marrying the girl he met at Glebe School.
“For Dad it was love at first sight,” Bob Mayhew recalls. “For Mom, not so much. Apparently he grew on her.”
Jim Mayhew realized a life hoeing corn up River Road wasn’t going to provide the future he wanted, so the young Navy veteran finagled a job at Pancake Chevrolet as a grease monkey, earning $20 a week.
When Rosie gave birth to their 1st child, that went up to $21.
Jim’s career sprang to a new level in 1964 when he was tapped to move across High Street from Pancake Chevrolet to bail out Hampshire Truck and Implement Co.
Four years later, he was back on the west side of High Street taking over Pancake Chevrolet after John Pancake died.
The Chevrolet dealership prospered in downtown Romney with a staff that doubled as the Romney Fire Company.
“If you worked for Pancake Chevrolet, you got an application to join the Romney Fire Department,” Bob Mayhew recalled.
In 1978, Jim got back to the land when the Mayhews purchased Valley View and started farming it.
“We worked together during the day at the dealership and then we worked together farming during the night,” Bob says.
Jim’s pride was a herd of purebred black Angus cattle — “all of them named” — that followed him around like puppies.
A fire on Feb. 23, 1990, changed everything. The dealership burned to the ground. The fire company/employees were able to save neighboring Taggart Hall.
Jim Mayhew was ready to cash it in, but son Bob, a minority owner of the dealership, persuaded him to relocate and rebuild.
The new car lot opened on Sunrise Summit in 1991, but Jim retired — for a time.
When Bob got the chance to buy the Spaid Ford dealership in Capon Bridge in 1998, he called his dad.
“I can’t do it without you,” Bob said.
“I’ll give you a year,” Jim replied.
So in 1998 he retired a 2nd time to the house on Potomac Avenue where he and Rosie had spent their entire adult lives.
Rosie passed away last March. On Monday, Jim joined her.
Bob remembered both his parents with joy over their lives well lived.
“My dad and my hero was also my business partner and my best friend.”