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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Then and Now: Dodge City dealership

Dodge City, the auto dealership at 920 W. Second Ave. was moved there by owner Clay S. Bleck in the early 1960s. He was born in Spokane but grew up in Portland. His father, Alfred H. Bleck, had been a sales manager at Eldridge Buick in Spokane in the early 1920s before building his own dealership in Portland. The younger Bleck served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as captain of a landing craft that saw action in Saipan, the Philippines, New Guinea, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. After his service, he attended Stanford University and studied economics and political science.

He became a truck and heavy equipment dealer in Portland before returning to Spokane to buy Brownson Motors in Dishman in 1951.

Bleck changed the name to Liberty Motors, then to Dodge Valley. In 1962, he changed the name to Dodge City and moved it to a building on Second Avenue downtown which had been occupied previously by Wells Chevrolet, Barton Auto and Wallace Brothers Studebaker.

Bleck ran the United Red Feather fund in 1951, raising money for the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, among others. The Red Feather was similar to today’s United Way. As he grew his auto dealership, he also became involved in politics and philanthropy.

In 1970, Bleck terminated his Dodge dealership and took over the Pontiac dealership from Utter Motors, which he called Pontiac City.

In the late 1970s, he opened Honda City, the first Honda dealership in the area.

In 1969, Bleck was elected president of the local Men’s Democratic Club. He would serve in many positions in the county and state Democratic Party leadership.

In 1979, Bleck opened Precision Motors at 1001 W. Second Ave., selling MGs, Jaguars and Triumphs, including through a downturn in sales after the Mount St. Helens eruption, which sprinkled the region with ash from the volcano, depressing sales of convertibles for months.

Bleck’s politics brought him close to Rep. Tom Foley and other office holders. After Bleck died in 2005 at 82, longtime Spokesman-Review political writer Jim Camden wrote that “Bleck was a rarity, a Democrat with money.” He gave generously to Volunteers of America to support Crosswalk, a teen homeless shelter.