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Thomas Tire founder Ex-Babcox publisher Spencer Giffords

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ASHEBORO, N.C.—Jesse Paul Thomas, founder of Thomas Tire & Automotive in Asheboro, died Aug. 23 at age 67.

Mr. Thomas was a 1971 graduate of Elon College. After graduation, he taught school and drove a cab in Columbia, S.C., then worked as a salesman for Olympic Paint and Stain Co.

He returned to Asheboro in the late 1970s and worked for Harrelson Rubber Co.

He later founded Thomas Tire in 1981 and continued to build the business over the years. The dealership now has four outlets in North Carolina and about 100 employees.

Mr. Thomas is survived by his wife, Sandra Hopkins Thomas; sons, Paul and David; daughters Lorie Vondrak and Sally Ann Cox; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

AKRON—Mary Rebecca “Becky” Babcox, former corporate secretary, publisher, vice president and executive team member of Babcox Publications, died Oct. 15 in Akron at age 60 after a long battle with Multiple System Atrophy.

During her 27-year career with Babcox Publications, Ms. Babcox was publisher of Automotive Rebuilder magazine, known today as Engine Builder magazine, and was a board member of a number of aftermarket associations, including the Production Engine Remanufacturers Association, Engine Builders Association, Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association and the Car Care Council Women's Board. She retired from Babcox Publications in 2006.

Ms. Babcox is survived by her son Robbie Kepple; sisters, Dr. Lucy (Dr. John) Morris and Sarah (Jim) Harrity; brothers, Tom and Bill (Patty) Babcox; and several nieces and nephews.

TUCSON, Ariz.—Spencer Giffords, 77, former president of Tucson-based El Campo Tire & Service Centers Inc. and father of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, died Oct. 20.

No specific cause of death was reported, but the family said Mr. Giffords had suffered from a number of health issues in recent years.

His father, Gif Giffords, founded El Campo Tire in 1949 and turned the business over to his son in 1957 after his graduation from Mexico City College, an English-language college in Mexico City.

Spencer Giffords built El Campo Tire into a 12-store dealership with more than 100 employees and annual revenues of $10 million. He turned the business over to his daughter Gabrielle in 1996. She ran the business until selling it to Goodyear in 2000.

Ms. Giffords won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006. In 2011, she was shot in the head by a gunman who also shot 17 other people, killing six while she was holding a “Congress On Your Corner” event in Tucson. She survived emergency surgery but resigned from Congress last January.

When asked by newspaper reporters after the shooting if his daughter had any enemies, Spen-cer Giffords replied, “Yes—the whole Tea Party.”

The first Gabrielle Giffords Inspiration Award was presented at ITEC 2012 in Cleveland.
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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published February 1, 2019

What issue concerns you most heading into 2019?

The threat of more tariffs.
27% (27 votes)
The new Congress in Washington.
35% (35 votes)
Price fluctuations for the products we sell.
10% (10 votes)
More disruptions across the industry.
29% (29 votes)
Total votes: 101
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