SEATTLE—John Earley, 79, founder of Earley Tire Co. in Aberdeen, Wash., and a past president of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, died Oct. 19 in a Seattle hospital. Mr. Earley served as president of the national association in 1970-'71 and was inducted into the Tire Dealers Hall of Fame in 1988. He chaired the Tire Retreading Institute from 1968 to '69 and received the NTDRA's distinguished service award in 1984.
During his more than four decades as an independent tire dealer, he also served as president of the Washington State Tire Dealers Association and was U.S. representative to BIPAVER, the international association of national tire dealer associations, for 16 years.
Mr. Earley became an independent tire dealer in 1953, bringing with him a colorful background that included summers spent working on Alaskan fishing boats to put himself through the University of Washington, where he learned to fly a float plane as a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corp.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941, became a major and served for three years as a test pilot in France, retrieving and rebuilding downed aircraft—both Allied and German. He earned six battle stars.
After the war, Mr. Earley, his wife and their small daughter lived for two years in Alaska, where he was employed as a bush pilot.
In 1948, the Earleys moved to Washington state, where five years later the 33-year-old Mr. Earley opened Earley Tire as a single-outlet retail operation in Aberdeen.
The dealership has grown to include a Bandag retread plant and a commercial truck tire center. Mr. Earley retired in 1996.
In addition to his wife, Maggie, survivors include sons, Dan and John III, Earley Tire's president and vice president, respectively; a third son, Patrick; a daughter, Susan Terrell; nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.