Jack Walser, who founded one of the Twin Cities' most recognizable names in auto sales more than 60 years ago, has died.

Walser, who retired in 1997 and left operations of the Walser Automotive Group to the next generation in his family, died July 29 in Bonita Springs, Fla. He was 91.

In 1956, Walser opened Towns Edge Oldsmobile in Hopkins, and the auto sales business expanded from there to selling more than two dozen brands in 20-plus dealerships in Minnesota and Kansas.

Through recent purchases of other dealerships, Walser Automotive has doubled in size since 2015.

Walser's son Paul stepped down in late 2017 as the company's longtime CEO and turned over the reins to brother Andrew. Both worked their entire adult lives in the auto business.

Robert John "Jack" Walser was born Jan. 12, 1928, in Sioux Falls. His family moved to Minneapolis, where he graduated from Washburn High School. He earned a business degree from the University of Minnesota. Walser also served in the military.

"Jack was a generous man who quietly helped others in need," his online obituary read.

Jack Walser was preceded in death by his siblings, Fredrick "Sonny" Walser, Charlotte Cuny and Margaret Shutler, and the mother of his children, Carol Marie Wudke. Along with sons Paul and Andrew, his survivors include his wife, Gail, daughter Nancy Warner, son Robert and 14 grandchildren.

"A Toast to Smilin' Jack" will be held Aug. 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Minikahda Club, 3205 Excelsior Boulevard, Minneapolis.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482