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Pioneering automobile dealer Lockhart dies

January 20, 2010

Freda L. Lockhart, the first woman to become a dealer for Cadillac and Saturn automobiles, has died at age 83, according to Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers.

Lockhart, who operated auto dealerships in the Indianapolis area for most of three decades, passed away Sunday in Florida, where she moved after her retirement in 1999.

A native of West Virginia, Lockhart moved to Indianapolis in 1965 and began working at Cleverly Cadillac in various secretarial and management positions. In 1972, after the death of owner James Cleverly, Lockhart successfully applied to run the dealership at 56th Street and Keystone Avenue, becoming the first woman signed as an exclusive Cadillac dealer in the United States.

Lockhart Cadillac grew to become one of the nation's largest dealers, eventually earning Lockhart the honor of becoming the first woman named to the Cadillac Hall of Fame.

In 1988, Lockhart Automotive Group became central Indiana's Saturn representative, and the company opened five Saturn dealerships in the area over the next seven years.

Lockhart was active in local business circles, becoming the first woman elected to the board of directors of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce and American United Life Insurance Co. She also was first female president of the Automobile Dealer Association of Indiana and the Indianapolis Auto Trade Association.

Her extensive community work including stints with the St. Vincent Hospital advisory board, Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, the Salvation Army and the 500 Festival Board.

Lockhart's son Marc Lockhart, daughter Lynn Kimmel and several grandchildren continue to carry on the family auto business.
 

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