William "Red" Lewis died at his home in the town of Lawrence, WI on January 7, 2021. He was born on July 15, 1942 to the late Harold and Erna (Meintz) Lewis in Green Bay, the youngest of four children.
An obituary published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette recounts his life, from graduating in 1960 from Premontre High School to founding PDQ Manufacturing in 1984 to the establishment of his car museum, The Automobile Gallery & Event Center, in 2016:
Lewis got his start with a sales/delivery job at Green Bay Auto Parts followed by a service-writer position at Jepson Chevrolet, along with driving a tow truck at night for extra money. He subsequently joined the staff at the local PDQ Car Wash in Green Bay, and by 1967 he had worked his way up to manager. In 1974 he purchased PDQ Car Wash and grew the company to eight full-service car wash locations in Northeastern Wisconsin.
Realizing how much he was spending to repair broken antennas and damaged mirrors gave birth to the touchless car wash concept. Lewis founded PDQ Manufacturing Inc. in 1984 specializing in manufacturing touchless car washes. The invention of the Laserwash 4000 followed, and PDQ Manufacturing grew to become the world’s largest touchless car wash manufacturer with clients in more than 30 countries. Lewis sold PDQ Manufacturing in 1998.
The International Carwash Association inducted Red Lewis into the Car Wash Hall of Fame in 2000, the association’s highest honor. Many other awards followed including the prestigious Free Enterprise Award in 2017 presented by the Rotary Club of Green Bay, celebrating Lewis’s innovation and extensive philanthropy in the Green Bay area.
With the opening of The Automobile Gallery & Event Center in 2016, Lewis created a lasting legacy for the community that will endure for generations. One of the great joys his life was greeting and talking with visitors to the Gallery as they strolled among one of the finest collections of automobiles in the United States.
William "Red" Lewis is survived by his three children: Becky (Pat) Lewis-Verheyden, Kelly Lewis, and Jon Lewis; two grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.