Joseph Allen Sartain, who owned and operated Joe Sartain Ford in Decatur from 1974 until his retirement in 2011, knew “the old-school way of the car business,” his son said.
Sartain, 78, died at his Decatur home Sunday morning after a long illness.
“He was a great, caring man who always took care of others. He loved golf and loved his friends and loved life,” said his son, Allen Sartain.
He said his father brought him up in auto sales, trained him to appraise vehicles, and eventually handed him control of the dealership in 2007.
“He taught me the old-school way of the car business,” Allen Sartain said.
The two were close.
“We worked together for almost 30 years,” he said. “We had a relationship where we got to see each other every day. I got to see him in the work atmosphere, and then we played golf together with all his friends. It was a great relationship.”
Lynn Layton was Sartain’s chief competitor until Sartain sold Layton his dealership in December 2011.
“We were also good friends,” Layton said. “... I had talked to Joe and seen him in the hospital last week, and I knew he was having a tough time. I didn’t know it was this close.”
Layton said Sartain was an ethical dealer and a good businessman.
“He was established in Decatur a long time before I came,” Layton said. “He was very cordial when I came to Decatur, very nice to me. I have nothing but good things to say about him.”
Allen Sartain said his father ran a used car dealership in Huntsville before moving to Decatur.
“The Decatur point was available from Ford Motor Co. and no one had been here very long, so he took his chance and submitted his application and was accepted, and we were here for over 30 years,” Allen Sartain said.
He said his father did “everything he could to make Decatur better.”
“He always supported everything from Decatur education foundation to junior golf, from the time he got here until the time he retired,” Allen Sartain said.
In his free time, Joe Sartain could often be found on the golf course at Burningtree Country Club, where he was a member.
“He had a group of guys. For 30 years, they went to Florida, played golf and had fun. The ones who are left are his pallbearers,” Allen Sartain said.
Burningtree Country Club owner Tom Flowe will be among those pallbearers at Sartain’s funeral Wednesday.
“I’ve known Joe for 40 years. He was a tremendous competitor, and I greatly enjoyed playing golf with him, and I always found that he was fair. And I’ll miss him greatly,” said Flowe, who met Sartain in 1974 shortly after his move to Decatur.
Sartain’s sense of competition and fairness extended to the business world, Flowe said.
“I told Joe when he was getting close to the end that he had a bucket list and he had filled every bucket, so he enjoyed his life to the fullest,” Flowe said. “I told him to make tee time, with me following him pretty closely, when he gets up there. He’s in a better place.”
Visitation will be Wednesday from 1 until 3 p.m. at Roselawn Funeral Home in Decatur. The family plans a celebration of life service at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Burningtree Country Club. The family requests memorials be made to Hospice of the Valley in lieu of flowers.
Seth Burkett can be reached at 256-340-2446 or email@example.com.
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