Now Elmer Wade says it's time to retire.
"I haven't been full time for years, but it's time," he said last week.
Later this month, the Wade family will sell their Ford dealership in Quarryville, ending a run that began when Elmer Wade became a partner with the dealership's previous owner, Marshall Stoner, in 1964.
The buying public's interests and the cost of new cars and trucks have changed over the years, he said.
"I found a statement from 1970. We had 50 cars and that came to $150,000. Now one truck can easily reach $50,000 or more," Elmer Wade said.
And the public's tastes have changed, he said.
"People want more SUVs and most of the trucks aren't work trucks," he said. "People use trucks as family vehicles they can take anywhere."
And with the changing times comes a change in ownership.
The change in ownership wasn't expected.
"We weren't looking to sell, but the right offer came along," said Elmer's granddaughter, Diana Wade.
She will stay on when the dealership is sold, working as sales manager for the new owners. Her uncle, Brian Wade, will also remain. Kent Wade will join his father in retirement.
The timing is right, said Diana's father, Kent Wade.
"The technology is going so much faster in the last eight or 10 years," he said. "We're not scared of it, but it would be easier for a younger person to deal with."
He is now spending much of his time preparing for the dealership's sale.
"We're trying to get everything in order," he said.
And he's already planning for the future. "I will be able to spend more time fishing and hunting," he said. "I will now write another chapter in my life. I'll do something."
But the change will be bittersweet, he said.
"I will miss the customers. A lot of them have become friends," he said. "I want to thank the people whose loyalty and trust we've earned. I've enjoyed the relationships we've built over the years."
Elmer Wade agreed.
"I did enjoy it. I enjoy cars and a lot of the people we deal with are the third generation of a family," he said. "I will miss them, but I have no regrets. I never thought I would still be doing this now."