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Tribute to Auto Show Chairman, Michael McGrath

Former CATA and Auto Show Chairman, Michael McGrath, Sr. passes at 75.


Chicagoland has lost an automotive icon with the passing of Michael McGrath, Sr. He passed away peacefully in Florida comforted by the love of his wife Kristina and close family. At age 75, McGrath had enjoyed an amazing career as the patriarch of the McGrath Automotive Group. Under his leadership, the group grew to fifteen highly respected and successful dealerships. McGrath started his career in Elgin where he learned the business from his father, the owner of McGrath Buick. In his late twenties Mike struck out on his own with the acquisition of several auto franchises that he marketed together as Heritage Auto Village. These dealerships prospered until McGrath eventually sold them to the Currie Motors Group.

After that, Mike took a brief mid-life sabbatical until he was presented the opportunity to open the first Chicago area Lexus franchise. He and Ronnie Colosimo a close friend and fellow auto dealer partnered on the investment. Under Mike's day to day guidance the dealership grew to be so popular that Lexus agreed to grant McGrath a second Lexus dealership in downtown Chicago. From there, two Acura dealerships, a Honda and a Hyundai dealership followed. In recent years, two of Mike's sons have taken ownership and responsibility for the day-to-day operations of all stores. Led by the principles of honesty and integrity that were foundational in Mike's success, the dealer group continues to thrive and grow.

In 2018, Mike received The David F. Mungenast Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

He was a benefactor to the Respiratory Health Association during his tenure as president of the Chicago Auto Dealer Trade Association by including them as a 10-year charity recipient for the First Look for Charity at the Chicago Auto Show.

Mike McGrath and his wife Kristina were always very active in philanthropic activities around the city and at his alma mater, Northern Illinois University. NIU was so moved by their generosity that a hall was named in their honor.

He leaves behind his loving wife Kristina (nee Hanna) McGrath; loving sons Michael, Jr. (Aurelie) McGrath, Kevin (Diane) McGrath, and Ryan (Julianne) McGrath; loving grandchildren Mathew McGrath, Colin McGrath, Ava McGrath, and Eli McGrath; siblings Patricia Dalby, Deborah (the late Ron) Hopkins, Kelly (Ted) Buckley, Gary (Jan) McGrath, James McGrath, and Scott (Vicky) McGrath. Mike was preceded in death by his parents Leo and Jeanne (nee Day) McGrath; sister Jane McGrath.