With deep sadness, LaFontaine Automotive Group announces the passing of Maureen LaFontaine, age 73, co-founder of the Group. A celebration of her life will be held at the LaFontaine Cadillac, Buick, GMC dealership, 4000 Highland Road, in Highland, Michigan on Saturday, November 2, 2019. Visitation will begin at noon, with a memorial service in her honor at 1:30PM. A luncheon will follow. LaFontaine’s Highland dealership, as well as the entire LaFontaine Dearborn complex, will be closed for business on that day in remembrance of Maureen.
A funeral mass for her family and close friends will be celebrated at Church of the Holy Spirit, 3700 N. Harvey Lake Road, in Highland on Monday, November 4, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are encouraged to U CAN-CER VIVE at ucancervive.com.
“Known affectionately as Madre to all that knew and loved her, my mom was a true firecracker and lived life to the fullest,” said Ryan LaFontaine, Chief Operating Officer, LaFontaine Automotive Group. “Her motto was ‘Faith, Family and Friends,’ and we were all inspired by her dedication to giving back and always putting the customer and community first. She will be deeply missed by all, but her legacy will live on by how we treat our customers and our continued philanthropic efforts.”
“We lost our mother, best friend, mentor and guiding light,” said Kelley LaFontaine, Vice President, LaFontaine Automotive Group. “There is no question my mom’s vision, leadership and heart, are at the core of everything we do at LaFontaine Automotive Group. The mission of my family and our employees is to personalize the automotive experience by building lifelong relationships that connect families and strengthen the community – and mom truly embodied that.”
Maureen was a pioneer in the automotive retail industry, co-founding the award-winning, nationally recognized LaFontaine Automotive Group in 1980 with her husband, Michael LaFontaine, by her side. While raising a family, Maureen started selling vehicles on a part-time basis, honing her skills and learning the many facets of the automotive retail business. She became dealer principal of the Group’s newly acquired Cadillac, Pontiac, GMC store in downtown Milford in 1984. Within her first month at the helm, Maureen led her team to sell more cars than the dealership had sold the entire year prior – crediting her success to her hands-on approach by personally visiting local businesses and residents, to introduce herself and show her commitment to the community. That approach to business and life has propelled LaFontaine Automotive Group to be the fastest growing dealership group in Michigan.
Her community-first mindset was at the forefront when the LaFontaine family built their flagship Cadillac, Buick, GMC dealership in Highland in 2008. The 63,000 sq. ft. dealership was General Motors’ first gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and continues to welcome guests from around the world to learn about its revolutionary design and storied track record – being named the coveted General Motors’ Dealership of the Year honor for nearly the past decade.
Maureen was a dynamo who ensured that the “LaFontaine Family Deal” is a household name through the Group and its employees’ strong presence and commitment to their local communities through numerous sponsorships, involvement with local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, charitable contributions and community support.
She has instilled a passion within her family to give back and make a positive impact on the lives of those around you. Maureen faithfully supported two of her children, Ryan and Kelley, when they established U CAN-CER VIVE Foundation, a 501©3, with the mission to provide vital funding for cancer research to create a cancer free world. This enduring quest to find a cure for cancer stemmed from Ryan’s successful battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other afflictions it has caused her family. Since its inception, U CAN-CER VIVE has raised over $2.5 million, with 100 percent of the monies raised going toward cancer research projects here in the state of Michigan. With a heart of gold that reaches far beyond her own backyard, Maureen has been committed to giving back to other worthy causes, including Angels of Hope, Project 1 and Whaley Children’s Center, to name a few.
Maureen has been a humble recipient of many remarkable achievements and awards, including the 2019 Women in Retail Network Premier Dealer Award, recognizing her growth, retention and profitability within the automotive retail network. In addition, she was proud to receive the Automotive News 100 Leading Women of 2010 recognition and Women’s Automotive Association International Spirit of Leadership Award in 2014.
Maureen is survived by Mike, her sweetheart of over sixty years; sons Ryan and Mike Jr.; daughters Kelley and Christie, and 15 amazing grandchildren. She also leaves many extended family members and dear friends who will miss her dearly, and who will carry on her amazing legacy.
Maureen’s obituary can be viewed here, lovingly written by Ryan.