Paul R. “Rudi” Tischer, former owner of automobile dealerships in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, died Sunday of heart failure at Brightview Mays Chapel Ridge in Timonium. He was 98.
Paul Rudolf Tischer — he went by Rudi and never used his first name — was born and raised in Kleinforst, Germany, where he attended local schools.
As a young boy, he was fascinated with automobile engines and became a master mechanic.
During World War II, he was drafted into the Nazi Army, and after being taken prisoner by the British, he served as its unit commander’s personal auto technician and chauffeur.
When the war ended and he was released, he went to Saudi Arabia, where he spent two years caring for the fleet of automobiles owned by the House of Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ruling family.
In the early 1950s, he returned to Germany and went to work with Volkswagen. During this time, he met and fell in love with the former Gertrude “Trudi” Braun, whom he married in 1957.
Shortly afterward, the newly married couple boarded a collier bound for New York with all their belongings packed in two suitcases, and settled in Silver Spring.
Still with Volkswagen, Mr. Tischer was responsible for establishing company dealerships and service departments throughout the Middle Atlantic.
In 1970, he left Volkswagen and established Autohaus Tischer in Laurel, which sold Volkswagen, Honda, Saab and Range Rover vehicles.
Through the years, he expanded his dealerships to include Tischer Acura/Nissan of Laurel and Tischer Autopark of Silver Spring, which sold BMWs, Porsches, Audis and Subarus.
For the comfort of his mechanics, Mr. Tischer air-conditioned service areas. He established a profit-sharing program for his employees and installed a computer system that kept repair case histories of customers’ cars and helped streamline dealer operations.
“You can make so many mistakes doing things by pencil and paper,” he told The Washington Post in 1985. “That creates customer aggravation, and that loses sales.”
The Burtonsville resident who retired in 1992 was the author of “King of the Road: An Autobiography.”
In 1992, Mr. Tischer built a replica 50-foot stone medieval German tower as an homage to those he remembered in Kleinforst, a suburb of Dresden. He spent many days in the tower surveying his surrounding 50-acre farm.
He was also an avid gardener and animal lover, and at one time he kept turkeys, ducks, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats and even a bull.
His wife died in 2018.
Mr. Tischer was a member of Epiphany Lutheran Church, 14411 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, where a funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday.
He is survived by two sons, Joseph Kloeppel of Indiana and Ralf Tischer of Hanover, Pa.; two daughters, Petey Hartung of Ruxton and Heidi Gordon of Owings Mills; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.