Richard “Dick” Hemel, a longtime rental car operator for Budget and Hertz and an industry association leader, died Jan. 7. He was 80 years old.
According to recently published obituaries, Hemel worked for many years in the rental car industry for Budget and Hertz rental companies. He was a manager of Budget Rent a Car at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport in the 1970s before moving to the East Coast where he and his wife operated multiple Budget locations in Westchester, Putman, and Ulster counties in New York, and in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the late 1970s and 1980s.
After New York State passed the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) law in December 1988 limiting renter responsibility for damages to a rental car, Hemel and another rental car operator in Westchester County organized the New York Vehicle Rental Association (NYVRA).
Hemel worked tirelessly for NYVRA to represent New York car rental operators in their fight with the state. NYVRA had an early success in modifying the New York law in 1989, and then got bogged down in difficult New York politics.
Hemel was regarded as a friendly and helpful manager and co-worker to others who knew him in his Chicago days, including a rental car operator who was a direct competitor in New York. He was always especially warm and responsive to his employees.
Later in his career, Hemel opened Star Cleaners in Westampton, New Jersey, and Harmony Cleaners in Middletown, New Jersey before retiring. He lived in Lakewood.
Richard Hemel was born on Oct. 15, 1943, in Boston, Massachusetts to Bessie and Harry Hemel.
He was a loving husband to Ellen Hemel; a devoted father and father-in-law to Jonathan Hemel and Pamela (née Millstein), Robert Hemel, and Brandon Hemel and Tracy (née Coles); and a proud grandfather to Alexander, Melissa, Kyle, Sarah, and Samuel. He was also a dedicated brother to Barry Hemel of Miami Beach, Florida who predeceased him in 2004.
Hemel was a friendly man who loved talking to others. His words could fill the room, but he was happiest listening to the banter of his wife, kids, and grandkids.
He also will be remembered for his love of music, baseball, and vast collection of clown memorabilia.
Memorial services were held Jan. 9 in Ocean, New Jersey, and he is interred in Woodbridge.
Commemorative contributions in Hemel’s memory may be made to Parkinson's Foundation (www.pdf.org).