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Outgoing WWII vet a perfect fit for auto sales

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Chuck Kraus, an early Toyota dealer in Western Pennsylvania, always was able to spot trends.

“He really saw what they would become,” Beverly Fife Krieger of Upper St. Clair, a longtime friend of Mr. Kraus, said of his interest in Toyotas long before the vehicles became popular.

Charles Robert “Chuck” Kraus of Mt. Lebanon died Friday, April 10, 2015. The longtime auto dealer and World War II Navy veteran was 89.

Mr. Kraus, who lived in the Asbury Heights community, was born Oct. 17, 1925, to Joseph Benedict and Josephine Kelleher Kraus, He grew up in Lawrenceville and was one of 13 children.

“He attended Catholic schools and always felt a connection to the church,” Krieger said.

At 17, Mr. Kraus enlisted in the Navy. He fought in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945 and saw combat in the Borneo, Bataan and Corregidor campaigns in the Philippines.

“He did not talk about World War II and his service that much,” Krieger said.

When the war ended, Mr. Kraus returned to Pittsburgh, married and had two children. His marriage to Betty Rupert Kraus ended in divorce.

Not long after the war, he got into the automobile business and worked in it for more than six decades.

Mr. Kraus owned Powers Lincoln-Mercury and Key Toyota, both on West Liberty Avenue’s Auto Row in the South Hills. Mr. Kraus later sold his Toyota dealership, which became Rohrich Toyota.

An extrovert, Mr. Kraus was a natural in the fast-paced world of car sales, his colleagues say.

“He had a good sense of business. He knew how to relate to people. He worked a long time, well into his 70s. He just liked the work, I think,” said Marty Pistella, who worked with Mr. Kraus for 20 years at McMinn Oldsmobile.

Krieger said Kraus excelled at his work and won several national sales awards.

“He enjoyed people. He was very dynamic, charming and a snappy dresser. He was always dressed to the nines,” said Krieger, who knew Kraus for 36 years.

Mr. Kraus owned a condominium at Seven Springs resort. “He didn’t ski or play golf. He socialized. He just enjoyed people,” Krieger said.

In addition to Krieger, Mr. Kraus is survived by sons Paul David Kraus and Richard Scott Kraus, both of Mt. Lebanon, and by a brother, John Kraus.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. Bernard Church. Interment will follow in Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Peters.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or [email protected].

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