MONROE, Ind. (WANE) — He served both the country and community through his business leadership, passion for service, and faith.
During World War II, Paul Zurcher enlisted in the Army at age 19. He was sent to fight in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division where he experienced things many teenagers today can’t fathom.
Zurcher’s son Mark described a time when their father’s division came under machine gun fire and mortar shelling.
“The man in front of dad was killed. By the grace of God, dad was just wounded and made it back,” Mark said. “I can’t imagine what our veterans have gone through. I can’t imagine it. So I appreciate what dad and everyone else has done. It’s just incredible and we’re just so grateful.”
Zurcher’s other son, Larry, said his father was on the way to the Pacific theater when heard the best news.
“He heard over the radio the announcement of V-J (Victory Over Japan) Day,” Larry said.
When Zurcher returned home, he took out a $300 loan to start a small tire store in Monroe, Indiana. From there it grew into a business with over 250 stores in the Midwest. Zurcher’s children now help run Zurcher’s Best One Tire and Auto Care.
In May, Zurcher was scheduled to go on Honor Flight Northeast Indiana, which flies veterans to memorials in Washington D.C. He died of health complications May 7 at the age of 90 and never made the flight.
The late tire store tycoon has received many honors both in and out of the service. They include a Purple Heart, the Modern Tire Dealer of the Year in 2005, and the Sagamore of the Wabash award.
Zurcher’s children said his life revolved around much more than success though.
“When people asked him what kind of work he did, he said ‘I serve God by selling tires,'” Larry explained.
Mark added, “Up until the last day, he just said I just want to please God. And I can’t think of a more wonderful way to live your life and to finish your life.”
Zurcher’s obituary gave a deeper look into his faith:
He began his morning with reading the Bible and exercising for 1 ½ hours before starting his day. He was fond of saying that the most important 8 minutes of the day are the first 4 minutes of the day and the last 4 minutes of the day. The first 4 minutes determined your attitude for the day, and the last 4 minutes were when you put your head on your pillow and reflected on what you did for the Lord. He always started the day with this prayer:
“This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it–or use it for good, but what
I do today is important, because I am exchanging
a day of my life for it! When tomorrow comes,
this day will be gone forever, leaving in its
place something that I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain, and not loss; good,
and not evil; success, and not failure;
in order that I shall not regret the
price that I have paid for it.”