Wallace E. Camp Sr.

SCARBOROUGH – Wallace E. Camp Sr. “Wally”, founder of the Rowe Dealerships and a leader in the Maine auto industry, died peacefully March 1, 2021 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House following a brief illness. He was 96.

Wally exemplified “the Greatest Generation,” growing up in challenging circumstances in the Great Depression, serving in World War II, going to college through the GI Bill, building a business and raising a family that was the center of his life.

He was born Nov. 13, 1924 in Toccoa, Ga., the fifth of 11 children born to Florence (Thomas) and John Camp, a farmer. His childhood on the farm involved many challenges, adversity and a great deal of hard work, all of which helped inspire his drive to obtain an education. When his father asked him to quit high school and work full-time on the farm, Wally left home in order to continue his education. At Stephens County High School, Wally was a member of the debate team and the dramatics club. Wally was also class president his junior and senior years and gave the commencement speech at his graduation in 1942.

After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and saw action in the Pacific Theatre of WW II, including the battle of Okinawa. Following the war, he used the GI Bill benefits to attend the University of Baltimore, where he earned a degree in business administration, and joined the theater and debate clubs. It was during college that he met his future wife, Virginia “Ginny” Shanklin, when both of them appeared in a school production of the play “Boy Meets Girl.” They married in 1951.

Camp worked in automobile sales for a Baltimore, Md. dealership that wanted to expand into the Portland market. The owners asked Camp to lead the new venture for three months, but it turned into a permanent position and a life-changing step. He moved his family to Maine in 1955 and assumed management of Portland Motor Sales, a Ford dealership initially located on Forest Avenue and later on Marginal Way.

He and his backers, the Weiss brothers, acquired the Rowe dealership in Westbrook and it became Rowe Ford Sales in 1970; eventually Camp acquired sole ownership. Using innovative marketing and promotion techniques, he built up the business and expanded it to include a dealership in Auburn. Today, the Rowe Auto Group is a diversified automotive enterprise, operating seven new vehicle franchises from its Westbrook and Auburn locations, where they also offer a wide selection of used vehicles, commercial truck sales and service facilities, specialized automobile finance services and service, parts and body shop services for their valued customers. Camp’s son, Wallace Camp Jr. is now owner and president of the Rowe Auto Group.

Camp was elected to leadership positions in the Maine Auto Dealers Association, including director of the MADA and was a longtime delegate to the National Automotive Dealers Association. He was also recognized as one of the top auto dealers in the U.S. in 1986 when he was nominated for the Time Magazine Dealer of the Year award.

The Camps moved from Portland to Cape Elizabeth in 1977, and began spending winters at their home in University Park, Fla. in the 1990s.

An avid golfer, Wally and his wife Ginny were long-time members of The Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth and the University Park Country Club in Sarasota, Fla.

In 2012, the Camps moved to Piper Shores in Scarborough, where Wally resided at the time of his death.

Wally and Ginny were members of Woodfords Congregational Church for many years, where Wally was a deacon and served on the finance committee. In recent years, he was a member of the First Congregational Church of Scarborough.

Wally and Ginny were involved in many charitable activities, including contributing to the building of a new wing at the Maine Medical Center campus in Scarborough.

Wally was predeceased by Ginny (Virginia), his wife of 63 years.

He is survived by his sister, Betty Camp and brother, Ben Camp and his wife Jo, of the Atlanta, Ga. area; his four children, Susan Hilton and her husband, Steve, of Scarborough, Janice Sweeney and her husband Brian of Cape Elizabeth, Wallace E. Camp Jr. and his wife Patti of Falmouth, and Thomas M. Camp and his wife Dr. Cynthia Tsamtsouris Camp of Weston, Mass.; nine grandchildren, Mark A. Camp and his wife Maria of Scarborough, Tracey Gibbs DiPietro of Portland, Stacey Gibbs Pringle of Palm Coast, Fla., John Hilton of Mapleton, Katherine Hilton and her husband Mathew Djavaherian of Berkeley, Calif., James Sweeney of Minneapolis, Minn., Alexander Camp of Boston, Nikolas and Zachary Camp of Weston, Mass.; and by eight great-grandchildren, Olivia and Henry Camp of Scarborough, Grace Hilton of Mapleton, James and Ryan Pringle of Palm Coast, Fla., Benjamin and Christopher Farley of Freeport, and Alexis DiPietro of Portland.

A private funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 6 at 2 p.m. at Jones, Rich and Barnes Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland.

There also will be a live stream of the funeral available on both the Jones Rich and Barnes Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jonesrichbarnes, as well as on its website: http://www.JonesRichandBarnes.com – click on “recent obituaries”, then click on “Wallace E. Camp, Sr.”

Following the service, Wally’s family will receive visitors on Saturday March 6, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Jones Rich and Barnes Funeral Home. Burial will be private.

Condolences may be made at http://www.JonesRichandBarnes.com

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in Wally’s honor be sent to either of the following:

The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital

At Maine Medical Center


22 Bramhall St.

Portland, ME 04102

First Congregational Church of Scarborough

161 Black Point Rd.

Scarborough, ME 04074

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