Mystery solved: Clearing up confusion over Connie & Dick's
[Editor’s note: Ask and you shall receive. In classic Claremont fashion, the request for details on Connie & Dick's Service Center was answered. Dick Bixel’s son, Claremont resident Jim Bixel, provided a copy of an undated COURIER article and, along with Connie’s great-granddaughter, a sixth-grader at Sumner Elementary, provided the details we were looking for. A huge thanks to them for sharing. —KD]
From Dick Bixel’s son
This message is in response to Lee McDonald’s letter to the editor regarding the recent COURIER article about Connie & Dick's. I am Dick Bixel’s son Jim, and I can clarify facts about the business prior to the purchase by the Browns. I’ve included a copy of a Claremont COURIER article featuring the history of Dick Bixel and Connie Nelson’s business partnership.
From a fifth-generation Claremonter
My name is Melia Bartosh, a fifth-generation Claremont resident and the great-granddaughter of Connie from Connie & Dick's Service Center.
In 1946, Conrad Nelson started as a gas attendant at a gas station on the northeast corner of Bonita and Yale in downtown Claremont. Around 1958, he moved across the street as the owner/operator of the Mobil station on the northwest corner of Bonita and Yale.
In 1960, he was introduced to Dick Bixel, who he took in as a partner in the gas station. Connie and Dick needed more space, so they bought some property at 108 Olive St. to expand their mechanics business. Shortly after that, in 1963, they closed the Mobil gas station and took over the Shell station on the corner of Arrow Highway and Indian Hill.
A few years later, they decided to concentrate solely on the garage on Olive Street. In 1980, they expanded to the current location at 150 Olive St. After retirement in the 1990s, Connie and Dick sold the shop to current owners Scott and Cindy Brown.
Dick Bixel passed away shortly after retirement and, being a Navy veteran, was buried in the Riverside National Cemetery. Conrad Nelson (Connie) is still happily living in La Verne, loves to travel with his wife Mary, and still has his love for tinkering with cars.
Our family would like to thank Mr. Lee McDonald for sharing his fond memories of Connie and Dick and the service they proudly provided the community with for more than 3 decades.
10 years old
Sixth grade student,
Sumner Elementary School