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Sid DeBoer named 2022 Oregon History Maker

Submitted photo Sid DeBoer of Ashland will be honored as a 2022 Oregon History Maker in October for his work growing Lithia Motors from a family-owned dealership in Ashland into one of the country’s largest auto retailers.

A Rogue Valley business leader will be honored by the Oregon Historical Society for a legacy that included help transforming a family-owned car dealership into one of the country’s top three auto retailers.

Sid DeBoer of Ashland was named one of four Oregon History Makers for 2022, recognizing him as a living individual “positively shaping the history, culture and landscape of Oregon,” according to a press release issued Friday by the Oregon Historical Society.

He joins a list of notable Oregonians honored by the historical society since 2009, including Nike co-founder Phil Knight, broadcast journalist Ann Curry and Pulitzer Prize-winning print journalist Nicholas Kristof, along with Oregon-based companies and organizations such as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Les Schwab Tire Centers and Pendleton Woolen Mills.

DeBoer will be honored Oct. 2 at the Portland Art Museum alongside Margaret Carter, the first Black woman in Oregon elected to the state Legislature; Dr. William B. Long, a trauma medical director for Emanuel Hospital in Portland who worked with first-responders, nurses and surgeons to create the country’s first statewide trauma system, and the Oregon Symphony, which was founded in 1896 and is the oldest orchestra in the western United States.

The Oregon Historical Society recognizes DeBoer as a “visionary business leader and philanthropist” who took over the family Chrysler dealership after his father’s death in 1968, and “created his own legacy by making Lithia Motors a symbol of hard work, honor and family.”

DeBoer moved the Chrysler dealership from Ashland to Medford in 1970, and fostered a philosophy of expansion and opportunity, according to the release and earlier Mail Tribune reports.

Today, Lithia has close to 300 locations in more than two dozen states, making it the third-largest automotive retailer in the U.S. — behind AutoNation of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Lithia ranked No. 231 on the Fortune 500 in 2021, ahead of Discover Financial Services at 233, software maker Adobe at 234, auto parts retailer AutoZone at 238, and eBay at 276.

The Oregon Historical Society further recognizes DeBoer for his philanthropy as founder and president of the Sid and Karen DeBoer Foundation, which has supported local youth mentoring programs, cancer research, hospitals, higher education institutions and the arts. DeBoer also founded Lithia4Kids, which has provided grants worth more than $5 million to organizations and programs that help children and families.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.