Those who knew Lothar "Dutch" Hoyer said he was a man of great integrity and honesty.
Dutch, who owned AA Compact Auto Repair in Columbia, was known as the "honest mechanic" to customers, family and friends. He died on July 12, 2019, at 68.
Dutch was born in Coeverden, Netherlands, a small town bordering northwestern Germany. He never cared much for school, but he had a passion for understanding how things worked, his daughters, Annemarie and Anneke Hoyer, said.
"When we asked my dad about growing up, he would say he was very much a ‘C student.'" Annemarie said. "That wasn’t because he wasn't smart. He would rather spend time playing soccer and skating on the canals there in the Netherlands."
After graduating from trade school, Dutch worked as a mechanic for the Royal Netherlands Army. It was there that his interest turned into a passion.
Dutch moved to St. Louis in 1973 to work with his sister and brother-in-law at their auto shop, World Wide Car Service and Collision Center. He quickly developed a sense of how to operate a business, Annemarie said.
"He thought, family business, that’s the way it should be," Anneke said.
Dutch bought AA Compact Auto Repair in 1984. Two years later, he met his partner in life and in business, his ex-wife Donna Beauchamp. The two worked as a duo. Beauchamp did the books and managed all of the financial details, while Dutch handled the mechanics.
"He cared more about the cars and the customers than the money," Anneke said. "He was 'head in the clouds' wanting to help people, and my mom would say: 'You can’t just let people go without paying for their cars.'"
Once, when one of Dutch’s customers, Mary Green, was going to get rid of one her cars, Dutch fixed it and gave it to someone else.
"We had a very old Chevy Geo Prism, and when we finally retired it, I mentioned that we were going to junk it. He said, 'Oh, well you know it still runs ... in my spare time I fix up cars and give them to people that really need some help.'" Green said. "He truly cared for the less fortunate."
His longtime employee Mark Kimble said many customers would come into the shop with unreasonable estimates from other mechanics, but Dutch would always make it right.
"Some of these lousy mechanics were really trying to take advantage of women," Kimble said.
Dutch passed his knowledge down to Annemarie and Anneke. Annemarie has a doctorate in mechanical engineering, while Anneke has her master's degree in the same field. The two now own and run the shop with their mother.
"I think he had always hoped that we would take over the business and that we would have the same passions as him," Anneke said.
Dutch had many interests that were unrelated to cars. He raised Missouri Fox Trotter horses with Beauchamp at his home in northern Boone County. He was also a huge MU football and basketball fan.
A memorial service was held Thursday, July 18, at the Columbia Seventh-day Adventist Sanctuary. Annemarie and Anneke said that most of the attendees were customers who had experienced Dutch's kindness.
"Growing up and watching him interact with customers and being the best person that he could be really influenced the kind of (people) that we grew up to be," Annemarie said.