Robert P. Strauss, 82; was Pep Boys executive

Robert P. Strauss
Robert P. Strauss
Posted: March 26, 2014

Robert P. Strauss, 82, a former Bryn Mawr resident and Pep Boys Auto Stores executive, died of causes related to aging Thursday, March 20, at his retirement home in Manalapan, Fla.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Merion, Mr. Strauss graduated from Episcopal Academy. A standout athlete, he led the school in varsity basketball and was chosen an All-Philadelphia player in 1948 and 1949.

He went to Duke University on an athletic scholarship and was coached by the legendary Red Auerbach, who went on to fame as coach of the Boston Celtics. Mr. Strauss was named to the All-Southern Conference during his freshman year.

While still at college, Mr. Strauss helped his father, Maurice "Moe" Strauss, a founder of Pep Boys Auto Stores, move the family from Merion to Bel-Air, Calif.

Mr. Strauss's father was one of four Navy pals who chipped in $200 apiece to open the first store in Philadelphia in 1921. The chain, known for its marketing featuring "Manny, Moe and Jack," grew to 200 stores.

A handsome man with a sharp wit, romantic charm, and distinguished reserve, Mr. Strauss soon make his mark in Hollywood.

After an audition, he was cast for the starring role in a production of Hamlet.

In 1952, he met Eugenia Popova Paul, a dancer and movie and television actress, during a celebrity party at the Hollywood Bowl. The two were married in 1958; she died in 2010.

The couple moved to Dallas, where he became a regional vice president for Pep Boys. In 1970, the family moved back to the Philadelphia area, settling in Bryn Mawr. Mr. Strauss joined Pep Boys' board of directors and served as an executive at company headquarters in Philadelphia for the next 30 years.

In the mid-1980s, when financial leveraging was in its ascendancy, Mr. Strauss sold his share of company stock and left the company to start his own capital investment management firm, dealing in risk arbitrage. The business was very successful.

His daughter, Kimberly V. Strauss, said even those who disagreed with her father respected him. "He was strong, resolute and steadfast, and also very sweet. He let his business acumen speak for itself, and despite his accomplishments, my father was never too proud, nor pretentious. Instead, he was always genuine and sincere."

In 1985, Mr. Strauss and his wife retired to Boca Raton, Fla., and two years later purchased the magnificent (c.1925) oceanside estate in Manalapan called " Mia Encantada." The name means "my delight."

A longtime philanthropist, Mr. Strauss and his wife supported Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Miami City Ballet, Palm Beach Opera, and the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. He also was trustee of the national Strauss Foundation.

Services were Sunday, March 23.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Wendy L.; a son, Baron K.; and three grandchildren.


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