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Longtime Seattle car dealer and civic leader Phil Smart Sr. has died.

Mercedes-Benz of Seattle confirmed that Smart Sr. died Friday. He was 93.

Smart was a fixture in Seattle for decades. He started selling cars in 1952 and built the area's first Mercedes-Benz dealership, according to

The dealership opened on E. Pike in 1959 and continued as a family-run business. In February of 2012,
Phil Smart Sr. turned over the management to his son, Phil Smart, Jr.

Smart grew up in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood and graduated from Roosevelt High School. He was an Eagle Scout and went on to become a Scoutmaster.

He served in World War II. He left the service as a major and later joined the Air Force Reserve. He retired as a colonel.

In 1961, Smart was the first male volunteer to work with children at Seattle Children's Hospital (formerly Children's Orthopedic Hospital). He volunteered for 40 years, and for 26 of those years, Smart played Santa for the children at the hospital.

Smart was a big ambassador for the hospital and spoke to thousands of people about the children. In 2001, Smart wrote Angels Among Us, a memoir of his 40 years of work at Children's and stories of the children he met there. A sequel, The Real Angels Among Us, came out in 2004.

All proceeds to The Philip M. Smart Sr. Endowment for Children's Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation released a statement on Saturday, saying they are deeply saddened by Smart's passing.

Phil is the gold standard as a volunteer, the statement said. He embodies everything Seattle Children's hopes to represent to our patients and families, staff and the community. Even after 'retiring' from volunteering, Phil visited Children's often to drop off Beanie Babies in the Emergency Department. He was so involved with patients and the hospital that our volunteer office was named in his honor - the Philip M. Smart Volunteer Office.

Phil Smart was a man of generosity and incredible service to others, but he did it with such a humble spirit about him. He did it in a way that challenged people to figure out how they could stretch, and help others, said Steve Leahy, past President and CEO of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Friends and former employees are leaving messages on social media.

He was a great person for all, said Nance King, a former employee. He gave so much to everyone. I have never worked for anyone like him, truly a genuine angel.

Funeral services are pending. Family and friends are invited to leave messages via Phil Smart's Facebook page.

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