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About Our Founders

 

(Excerpt from the Sun Sentinel)

 

An orphan who sold flowers on the streets of New York during the Great Depression, Arthur Stone went on to become the head of a successful chain of florist shops as well as an avid collector of antique cars, and founder of the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum.

At age 10, Mr. Stone made $1 a day selling flowers in Manhattan. It was there, daughter Bonnie Bennett said, that he developed a lifelong love with Packard cars.

"He was just taken with [them]," she said. "I think it had a lot to do with growing up in the Depression Era in New York City, strolling down Fifth Avenue, seeing people in those fancy cars."

Arthur came to Miami in 1937 and moved to Fort Lauderdale five years later. He met Shirley, his wife of 64 years, on a blind date. They married within the year.

He purchased Buning the Florist, a Fort Lauderdale establishment since1925, because he didn't like the service and extra charges when he bought two dozen carnations there in 1944. After asking John Buning how much he wanted for the shop — $3,000 — Mr. Stone returned in a month to buy the business with a borrowed $2,500 and $500 of his own money.

"He didn't realize he sold me a gold mine," Mr. Stone later said.

When he sold the business in 1999, it had grown to 11 stores with $6 million in annual revenue.

Mr. Stone bought his first Packard in 1948 for $700. Shirley threatened to leave unless he sold it. He didn't sell, she didn't leave, and his Packard fleet became so large Mr. Stone established the museum to house them.

"He took a passion that he had regarding antique Packard autos and devoted it to the benefit of the entire community," she said.

Even after retirement, he kept busy, visiting the museum daily, and during all special events. "He was always wheeling and dealing for something, whether it was cars or some other commodity," she said.

Arthur passed away in February of 2010, and Shirley continued to be involved in day to day operations, overseeing the legacy Arthur left behind, until her passing on April 19, 2016.

Gary Bennett, our museum curator, hails from the automobile business. He brings a postwar experience to the collection. A native of Wisconsin, Gary has been active in Ft. Lauderdale and South Florida since 1957.

Rose Cooley, our museum coordinator, is originally from Chicago and has been with us since 1999.  Rose’s knowledge of administration has made her our "go-to" person.