Cecil Spadafora was the successful operator of the Colonial automobile dealership in Indiana and was a part of the economic development team that reinvigorated the Indiana County economy in the 1960s and 70s.
Cecil was born June 30, 1913, in Ellsworth, Washington County, and rose through the automobile dealership business in the Pittsburgh area before starting his company in Indiana.
He graduated from Penn State University and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. As the war years closed and General Motors Corporation looked for new markets to serve, the company offered Spadafora his choice of Western Pennsylvania communities to begin a new dealership.
He selected Indiana, and launched Colonial Motor Mart in 1946 as the area’s first Oldsmobile and Cadillac franchise.
Spadafora was driven not only to run a successful auto dealership but to live in a thriving community. He was a leader of the 1950s and 1960s economic development campaign that brought Fisher Scientific Company, Campus Sportswear, Robertshaw Controls and Season-All Industries to Indiana, the nucleus of the area’s economy for years to come. Spadafora served twice as president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce and was named a director emeritus.
Cecil died in 2006 at age 92. He and Ann, his wife of more than 60 years, had four children: Charles, William, Jo-Una and Cecil Jr.
Spadafora left a family business that is now under third-generation leadership: It first transitioned to his son, Chuck, and now Cecil’s eldest grandson, C.J., manages the dealership.
That history of family ownership has not gone unrecognized. The University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business presented the “Family Business of the Year” award to Spadafora in 1999, and the IUP Center for Family Business honored him with the “Distinguished Family Business Award” in 2002. Both universities confer the awards to recognize outstanding family businesses, and to celebrate the success of families in business and the benefits they bring to their communities, region, and nation.
In addition to starting Colonial Motor Mart, Spadafora also owned Meadow Lane Golf Course.
He served the community in many ways, as a member of the Indiana Lions Club and as co-founder of Indiana High School football boosters. He established the first football scholarship through the Foundation for IUP, and the Cecil Spadafora/IUP Invitational golf tournament was named in his honor.
Cecil was best known among friends and associates for his commitments to community, church and family, and was remembered by his son, Chuck, after his passing: "I thank you for teaching us, by example, on how to respect the little guy as well as the big guy, on how to treat people with fairness and consistency, and how to give back to the community and church. I also thank you for teaching us to care for our brothers and sisters and what you meant by 'it is so nice to be nice.'”