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Robert A. Smalley, 88

Robert A. Smalley, 88

FLAT ROCK — Robert A. Smalley, 88, of Flat Rock, died on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2012 at his home after a lengthy and courageous battle with lung cancer.

Bob was born on October 18, 1923 in Detroit, MI to the late, Earl Smalley Sr. and Marguerite Couture Smalley. He was also preceded in death by Marie, his wife of 37 years who died in 1984; his older brother Earl; his younger sister, Natalie and his beloved daughter-in-law, Diane.

At age 4 his family moved to Miami, FL, where he grew up. Later Bob attended boarding school at St. Leo Preparatory School in Dade City, FL. Following his education he joined the United States Navy in early 1942 and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was honorably discharged in March of 1946 and returned home to Florida.

Bob was a true car rental industry pioneer. Fresh from returning from the war, he and his late brother Earl rejoined the family business, Couture Rent-A-Car, and led the company in a vigorous expansion to become the third largest car rental firm in the United States. In 1958 the company was acquired by The Hertz Corporation where Bob began a long and successful career. Bob held a number of positions during his tenure at Hertz, both in Chicago and New York. He notably incorporated global expansion as President of Hertz International, Ltd., and in 1968 he achieved the pinnacle of his car rental career when he was named President, CEO and Director of the Hertz Corporation.

In the seventies after resigning from Hertz, Bob moved his family from New York to Miami, FL where he formed the nation's first one-way motor home rental company. The company was founded in 1972 and relocated corporate headquarters to Mesa, AZ in 1993. When they relocated to Arizona Bob turned operation of the company over to his two sons and he and his wife Shirley moved to North Carolina.

Living in Hendersonville from then on he and Shirley were active members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. He was a long time member and past Commodore of Key Largo Anglers Club in Key Largo, FL, a member of Ocean Reef Yacht Club in Key Largo, FL, Hendersonville Country Club and Etowah Country Club.

He is survived by his loving wife, Shirley who he married in 1985; and his three children, Robert Jr. and his wife, Paula, of Arizona, Randy of Colorado, Sally DiLucente and her husband, Wayne, of Florida; two step-children, Holly Anderson of North Carolina, Dennis Paquette and his wife, Pam, of Florida. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren, Suzanne and her husband, Seth, Bart, Alana, Caroline, Courtney, Carrie and her husband, Jake, Randall and his wife, Ursula, Rebecca and her husband, Fisk, Brian, Lisa and her husband, Tom, Marie and her husband, Philip; seven great-grandchildren, Lily, Cash, Kate, Julia, William, Caroline and Jacob.

He will be remembered as a successful businessman, entrepreneur, a devoted husband, loving Father and loyal friend.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday, June 4, 2012, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church with the Rev. Andrew Novak celebrating. A private burial will take place at Woodlawn Park Cemetery in Miami, Fl.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Four Seasons Compassion for Life, 571, South Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731.

A register book is available online for family and friends by visiting

Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors and Cremation Memorial Center is in charge of arrangements.