ANTONE "TONY" RAPOZA / 1919-2002

He made a name as a
prolific car salesman

More obituaries

By Leila Fujimori

For more than 25 years, Tony Rapoza was so successful at selling Cadillacs, he almost had his name legally changed to Tony Cadillac Rapoza.

"What made Tony such a good salesman is, he enjoyed his work, and his work and his play were one and the same," said G.E. "Dutch" Schuman, chairman of Schuman Carriage.

"He worked hard, and he had a great number of friends," he said. "That's what makes a salesman: the want-to and the work ethic."

The dapper car salesman was selling an average of 12 to 15 of the luxury cars a month while others averaged six to eight, Schuman recalled.

"This was year in and year out," he said.

Antone "Tony" Rapoza, who was born in Kealakekua, Hawaii, died of leukemia Aug. 2 at St. Francis Hospice West, the day before his 83rd birthday.

Rapoza sold cars for nearly half a century, working for different dealerships including Pfleuger Lincoln-Mercury, Cutter Ford and Lexus of Hawaii.

"I always thought he was the best car salesman in town," said friend and fellow salesman Steve Foytich. "He took good care of his customers and was on a friendly basis with them."

Rapoza was ahead of his time, said friend Frank Denton, who was also in the car business. In the 1970s, Rapoza recognized leasing was the way of the future, Denton said, and got him into leasing cars.

Almost as much as his reputation for being a top car salesman, Rapoza was known for being a man about town who liked a nice car, favoring convertibles.

"He was a local Portuguese guy, extremely well dressed, always wore a jacket and tie and spent a lot of money on clothes," Denton said.

"He had slicked-down, jet-black hair," he said, adding "he never had a gray hair on his head" until he became ill and could no longer dye his hair.

Foytich recalls the good old days in the late 1940s and early 1950s when he, Rapoza and their friends would frequent favorite haunts like Queen's Surf in Waikiki and spend time on Rapoza's boat, water skiing.

"We weren't rich, but we worked hard and we had a dollar extra we could spend," Foytich said.

Rapoza is survived by daughter Michaelle Rapoza Yamaguchi, brother Herbert, sister Julia Toledo and two granddaughters, Amber and Jonnel Yamaguchi.

Private services will be held.

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --