Rick Case, who helped build an automotive dealership empire in areas including South Florida while also giving back to the community through several organizations, died Monday at the age of 77.
A spokesperson for the family said Case died at his home surrounded by family after dealing with an aggressive form of cancer.
Case and his wife, Rita, owned 16 dealerships in three states and moved to South Florida in 1985 as part of an automotive empire that employed over 1,200 people and made more than $1 billion in annual sales.
The Cases were familiar with charities in the area, including Nova Southeastern University — where the arena is named for Case — and the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County, where they had been board members since the mid-1980s.
At the Rick and Rita Case Boys and Girls Club in Davie, dozens of children sat in front of laptops for distance learning Wednesday, unaware the building they sat in would not exist without the Cases’ philanthropy.
“When they came on, there were three or four Boys Clubs to where we are today there are now 12 Boys and Girls Clubs,” said Matt Organ, co-CEO of the clubs in Broward County.
He said, between direct donations and fundraisers led by the Cases’, the clubs have benefited from tens of millions of dollars over the last 30 years.
Last year, donations allowed more than 10 club graduates to attend Nova Southeastern on full scholarships, Organ said, adding with Rick Case’s passing, the family is setting up a scholarship fund.
Case’s legacy, he said, is “very simple. Changing lives of our youth. They started 30 years ago and they continue to do it today and the legacy will continue on for decades to come.“
At the heart of the Rick Case Automotive Group in Weston, the news of Case’s death hit hard for some, including Marc Riley, general manager of the six South Florida dealerships.
“Rick was all about passion,” Riley said. “I mean Rick brought his passion and enthusiasm and did it in everything he did.”
“If he impacted someone’s life in a good way it was a good day,” Riley said. “No matter what he did, no matter if we sold any cars … it was all about impacting people."
Case leaves behind his wife of 40 years and three kids - Rick, Ryan and Raquel. A private memorial for family will be held at a later date.