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Lamar Light, Former Chairman of Groff Tractor & Equipment, Passes Away at 88

Mon February 06, 2023 - Northeast Edition #4
Groff Tractor

Lamar L. Light
Lamar L. Light

Lamar L. Light, age 88 of Mechanicsburg, Pa., passed away on Jan. 31, 2023, with his family by his side. He was the son of the late Stanley and Mabel (Miller) Light, born on July 12, 1934 in Palmyra.

Mr. Light was a 1952 graduate of Palmyra High School and earned his undergraduate degree from Allegheny College in 1958. He was a football lineman in both high school and college before going on to serve his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he achieved the rank of Captain while also earning a letter of commendation for building a Buddy Catapult System for the military and helping build the runway project at Vieques Airport, PR.

Mr. Light became a highly respected figure in the local business community, starting out with Furnival Machinery and State Equipment Company before joining L.B. Smith Inc., where he set out on a 30-plus year tenure. At L.B. Smith, he started as a salesman where he excelled and was promoted to sales manager in Camp Hill, Pa., before moving south to Charlotte, N.C., to open up the company's southeast division as vice president in 1976.

He would come back to the Camp Hill, Pa., headquarters in 1986 as executive vice president before assuming the position of president and COO in 1988 until his retirement in 2000. Throughout the years, he would serve on the board of directors for AED along with Dealer Council Boards for Terex, Volvo and Hitachi.

In 2001, Mr. Light and Mike Savastio became part owners of Groff Tractor & Equipment as part of an overall succession plan with Ken Groff, the former chairman and owner of Groff Tractor. In 2005, Light and Savastio, along with Jim Price, purchased the balance of Groff Tractor & Equipment continuing a growth path to make GT&E one of the most successful and fastest growing dealerships throughout the Northeast over the last 20 years.

Mr. Light would serve as vice chairman from 2001 thru 2005 and became chairman of the board in 2006 until his official retirement in 2012.

"Lamar and I met in Charlotte back in 1977 where he hired me as part of management trainee program for L.B. Smith. He was very demanding, but very fair, and what he demanded always turned into excellence," said Chris Wilmot, former vice president and general manager of L.B. Smith, founding owner of Flagler Construction Equipment, and chairman of the board of Groff Tractor from 2012 to 2016.

Throughout his 60-plus year career in the construction equipment industry, Mr. Light was a true professional in all he did and was someone who constantly thought of others. He groomed countless employees; he loved the industry and teaching the "art" of selling to his salesmen and always made sure they carried around their "shut up" card in their coat pocket.

"Lamar is one of the legends in the construction equipment industry. I was privileged to have worked with him for 30-plus years. He was my mentor and helped groom me to be in the position I am in today," said Savastio.

Despite the dedication required of being a top salesman or an executive, Mr. Light always managed to make time for his family and the things that mattered most. He was a very down to earth person and the epitome of an honest and moral human, and he always made it a point to be home with his family at dinnertime. He and his wife, Janice, were an inseparable couple, supporting one another throughout the years while raising three girls.

Mr. Light would say that the driving force behind his professional career and success was his devoted and supportive wife, and when grandchildren and great grandchildren came along, they quickly became his greatest source of joy.

"Lamar made a permanent imprint on Groff Tractor, as it continues to embody his core business philosophies in how to run a customer-focused, well planned and efficient organization," said Jim Price, CFO of Groff Tractor.

"Not only was he my boss and mentor for many years, but he was also the best father-in-law that you could ever ask for. He taught Jim and I the importance of balancing your work life around your family life. As much as he loved work and our employees, his family always came first. His legacy and stories will continue for generations to come. He truly was one of a kind and our family & the GTE family will cherish the memories," added Savastio.

Surviving Mr. Light is his wife of 64 years, Janice (Shirk) Light; daughters, Anne-Marie Mettus (Richard) of Feasterville, Elaine Price (James) of Mechanicsburg, and Patti Jean Savastio (Michael) of Mechanicsburg; grandchildren, Megan Friedman (Matthew), Matthew Price, Carinne Mettus, Jonathan Mettus, Ellen Kremer (Kevin), and Thomas Savastio; great-grandchildren, Kellen and Owen; a sister, Shirley Kerr; and several nieces and nephews.

"I am very fortunate to have visited with Lamar on Monday prior to his passing. During our last conversation, he told me that he 'hit the birth lottery' with such great children. Lamar was so unselfish and achieved so much, but it was always centered around what was best for his family," added Wilmot.

Memorial contributions may be made in Mr. Light's name to Homeland Hospice at, or by mail to: Homeland Hospice, Attn: Myra Badorf, Asst. Director of Development, 2300 Vartan Way, Suite 270, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

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