SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Halle, founder and chairman of Discount Tire/America's Tire, died Jan. 4 in Scottsdale at age 87.
"It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that today, our friend, founder and a passionate family member, Mr. Halle, has passed away," said Michael Zuieback, CEO at Discount Tire and Mr. Halle's stepson.
Discount Tire said he died "peacefully in his sleep" but didn't release further details.
"I have had the privilege of working with and learning from the most talented, respected, humble and kind leader anyone could hope for, and I speak on behalf of all who knew Bruce in that he will be dearly missed," Mr. Zuieback added.
Vice Chairman Gary Van Brunt said, "His absence creates a tremendous loss for all of us, but in his honor, Discount Tire will continue on the course that Bruce has set for us. The five lessons that Mr. Halle taught us will forever resonate in our hearts and minds: Be honest, work hard, have fun, be grateful and pay it forward."
Mr. Halle is survived by his wife Diane; son Bruce Halle Jr. (Nikki); daughters Susan Lyle (Wilson), Lisa Pedersen (Chris) and Mr. Zuieback (Sheila); siblings Bob Halle (Nancy), Mary Ellen Merrill and Betty Lou Halle; and seven grandchildren.
After serving as a Marine in the Korean War, Mr. Halle settled in Michigan and attended Eastern Michigan University (EMU). He opened the first Discount Tire store in 1960 in Ann Arbor, Mich., with "six tires and no business plan," as described in his biography by the same name.
From that humble beginning — he was the tire technician, accountant, sign painter, toilet cleaner, customer service representative, etc. — Mr. Halle built an empire that today is recognized as the nation's largest independent tire dealership with 950-plus outlets in 34 states, more than 18,000 employees and annual sales of nearly $5 billion.
Mr. Halle — listed by Forbes magazine as Arizona's wealthiest individual for the past eight years, with a net worth of $5.2 billion — was recognized and respected for his philanthropic efforts.
Among the efforts that he and Diane fostered were the Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation, a philanthropic resource for a broad range of charitable endeavors; the Bruce T. Halle Assistance Fund, which provides financial assistance to Discount Tire employees in need; and the Bruce T. Halle Scholarship Program, which has awarded more than 2,700 scholarships for employees' children to attend college.
His college alma mater named the university's library after him and awarded him an honorary doctorate.
EMU President James Smith said, "I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Bruce Halle. My thoughts are with his wife, Diane, their children, other family members, their friends and co-workers.
"Bruce touched many, many lives in the business world, and through his support of the university and its students continues to touch many lives on our campus today."
He was selected as a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. in 2014, citing his "instinctive" entrepreneurial spirit, professional success and philanthropic generosity.