Stephen L. Cole, former Baltimore area car dealership executive, dies

Stephen Luby Cole, a former reporter who later became president of Luby Chevrolet and Honda, died from a heart attack Sept. 29 at his Atlanta home.

The longtime Roland Park resident was 70.

Mr. Cole was born in Miami and raised on Park Heights Avenue.

He was the son of Dr. Frank S. Cole, who established Luby Chevrolet Co. of Baltimore in 1952, and Betty Arlene Luby Waghelstein, who became CEO of Luby Chevrolet and Honda. His maternal grandfather, Sam Luby Sr., had opened a Chevrolet dealership in the 1930s in Denver, with a second one in Miami in 1939. Other dealerships followed New York City, Boston and Larchmont, N.Y.

He was a graduate of Friends School and received a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from Washington University in St. Louis. Interested in a career in journalism, he worked at Newsweek in New York City as a fact checker before joining the Wayland-Weston Town Crier in Wayland, Mass., as a reporter.

In 1975 Mr. Cole returned to take over the family business.

That same year he married Mary Lou Brennana. She died in 2010.

Luby Chevrolet Co. was first located on Highland Avenue; in 1954 it moved to the former Baltimore Oldsmobile classic 1940s-era Art Deco showroom at Madison and Monument streets in East Baltimore. In the 1970s, the business expanded to include Honda sales.

The company’s slogan, “I Love Luby,” was familiar for generations among local Chevy buyers and became something of a fixture in Baltimore automotive lore.

Mr. Cole sold the business in 1994 to Anderson Automotive Group, and after owning and operating several other businesses, he became active as a volunteer with the Maryland Food Bank and The Arc of Baltimore.

The longtime Keswick Road resident enjoyed traveling and was something of a gourmand. He looked forward to an annual week-long Ocean City vacation that included family and immediate friends. He also had traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia.

“He would drive an hour and a half to get the best peaches available in Pennsylvania, and would often visit five shops to get the best ingredients for any one meal,” said his son, Ryan Cole of Medfield.

Mr. Cole’s journeys once took him across New England in search of the best lobster roll, and he would “insist to anyone visiting Miami they make a special trip to Joe’s Stone Crabs,” his son said.

Last year, he married Joy Aaron, a former Maryland state employee, in a ceremony at a castle in Waterford, Ireland.

Mr. Cole was a member of Beth El Congregation.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 28 at Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Megan Cole of Atlanta; two sisters, Shelley Cole Morhaim of Pikesville and Nancy Cole Abrams of Ruxton; and two granddaughters.

—Frederick N. Rasmussen

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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