Erwin Ungerer, known to friends, family and members of the community as Tac, died Thursday, Jan. 3, at the age of 52 from melanoma.
Ungerer owned and operated T.A.C.S. ("The Auto Collision Specialists Inc.") Autobody service on Route 9W in Glenmont for the past 30 years.
What started as a two-garage body shop in 1978 has flourished into a service center with a 5,000-driver clientele " all due to Ungerer's hard work and congenial manner, said Ungerer's son, Matt Ungerer.
"He truly built that business from the ground up," Matt Ungerer said. "He liked to say that he met people by accident, but what drove him was that he wanted people to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. No one likes to get in an accident, and my father wanted to make sure people got through the ordeal as easily as possible."
Ungerer was widely respected in the community, said Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce President Marty Delaney.
Ungerer was a chamber member, as well as a supporter of Boy Scouts of America Troop 75 of Delmar.
"My impression was that he had a fantastic sense of humor," Delaney said. "Tac had a sharp wit, but he used it in a jovial manner."
Delaney said Ungerer would come to the chamber offices frequently and cheer up the staff with his humor.
"I'm really, really going to miss him," she said.
Following Erwin Ungerer's death, his family is working to ensure that the business transitions as smoothly as possible. Matt Ungerer, who was a hotel manager for MGM-Grand in Las Vegas, has returned to the area to manage the business, along with other family members.
Matt Ungerer said his dad would have wanted it that way.
"One of his big motivations for the success of his business was to take care of his family," Matt said. "If I can take care of my family in the same way, I'll consider myself a success."
Survivors include his wife, Andrea Manzi Ungerer of Glenmont; three sons, Kevin, Brian and Matt Ungerer, all of Glenmont; a nephew; and several nieces.
A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church at 428 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar on Saturday, Jan. 19, at noon.
Contributions can be made to Boy Scout Troop 75 of Delmar, c/o the First United Methodist Church at 428 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar 12054.""