Arlington TX auto dealer, philanthropist David Moritz dies

Arlington TX auto dealer, philanthropist David Moritz dies

David Moritz, an Arlington business titan and philanthropist who helped to mold commerce and political life in the city for nearly 50 years, died on Tuesday. He was 85.

Moritz, who owned auto dealerships in Tarrant County, was a University of Texas at Arlington nursing college benefactor and a donor to community groups and nonprofit organizations. Moritz died of cancer, his family said.

Moritz shared his business acumen and financial counsel across the city. He was a major force at the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce, former Mayor Jeff Williams said.

He was a supporter of a bid to keep the Texas Rangers playing in Arlington via construction of a new ballpark, Globe Life Field, that used tax funding.

Moritz was president of the River Legacy Foundation from 1996 to 2006 and earlier directed fundraising efforts for the River Legacy Living Science Center.

Planning for the science center building, which fourth-grade students in the Arlington school district visit on field trips as part of their environmental science studies, began with a modest budget. Early on, the city considered spending perhaps $750,000.

“David knew that wasn’t enough to do something first class,” said Williams, a longtime friend of the Moritz family who left office in July.

Although he was not comfortable with it, Moritz agreed to give soliciting money a try and won over other donors by telling them of his personal plan to provide funding. He secured $5 million.

“David was always a contributor. Always a giver,” said Sylvia Greene, the River Legacy Foundation’s president at the time of the science center fundraising effort.

On the night before the center’s opening in 1996, Greene and Joyce Bevoni, then the foundation’s executive director, were involved in final preparations. Moritz took hold of a vacuum and began to clean, Greene recalled.

“He was an icon in Arlington,” she said.

Moritz was born on Aug. 31, 1935, in Beloit, Kansas. His first taste of the car sales business involved a stint repossessing vehicles from people who had not submitted payment. Later, in 1973, he was dispatched to Arlington from Oklahoma to open a Cadillac dealership. Moritz added BMW in 1989 and BMW’s Mini Cooper brand in 2002.

He sold Moritz Cadillac and Moritz BMW/Mini to Houston-based Group 1 Automotive in 2013. His family continues to operate other dealerships.

Moritz’s name is publicly connected to few donations.

“He wanted to be a quiet contributor,” Williams said.

In late April, on a day he was feeling well, Moritz and his son took a driving tour of Arlington with Williams to check in on new buildings in the city in which he had played a central role.

A funeral service is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church at 2100 North Davis Drive in Arlington.

Moritz is survived by his wife, Rebecca Reichenberger Moritz, his brother, JR Moritz, and his children, Michelle Paris, Jenifer Summers, John David Moritz, Kris Bradford and Julie Stafford.

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Emerson Clarridge covers crime and other breaking news for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He works evenings and reports on law enforcement affairs in Tarrant County. He previously was a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New York.

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