Prominent Sonoma County businessman Kirk Veale dies at 82
Kirk Veale, a private but prominent Sonoma County businessman who expanded his family’s involvement in Santa Rosa auto sales, founded a leading outdoor advertising company in North Bay, and shaped yet plus the county as a real estate developer and real estate investor, died on Tuesday.
He was several weeks away from his 83rd birthday.
Among his professional accomplishments: He co-founded the Corby Avenue automobile row in Santa Rosa. He advised and helped women who were in business for themselves or aspired to be. He quietly donated and inspired his colleagues to make significant donations to community causes. He played a leading role in building and financing the Salvation Army compound west of Santa Rosa. And he installed the large electronic billboard along Highway 101 in Rohnert Park.
Adds longtime friend and tennis partner Sal Rosano, the former Santa Rosa police chief, “He really was a gentleman.”
At 82, Kirk Veale was still active at his billboard company and Veale Investment Properties when he was diagnosed less than a year ago with aggressive metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. He told very few people what he was going through.
“He never, ever complained, that man,” said his daughter-in-law, Jill Medin of Windsor. “He came down with a smile.”
Veale was 11 when his parents, Henry and Marianne Veale, moved their family to Santa Rosa from Stockton in 1950. Veale spent his teenage years on his parents’ 30-acre ranch on Brush Creek Road in Santa Rosa, where the neighborhood of Brush Creek Villas townhouses is now. His father, Henry Veale, opened a downtown Volkswagen dealership in 1955.
Young Kirk Veale was active in Future Farmers of America at Santa Rosa High School until graduation in 1958. He then went to sea as a Merchant Seaman and then with the US Coast Guard.
He and Jamie Gobler from Sonoma met at Santa Rosa Junior College. They married in 1960.
He was a year away from Menlo College, where he was studying business, when, in 1964, his father died.
Veale and his brother, Dusty, took over management from Henry Veale VW, which had by then moved south from downtown to Santa Rosa Avenue. A few years later, the dealership became the second, after Comanche Chevrolet, to take root on the city’s new row of automobiles on Corby Avenue.
After Dusty Veale sold his brother his stake in the company and moved to Yreka, Kirk Veale took on other German car brands: Porsche, BMW, Audi.
He and Jamie raised a family on a 16-acre farm in Bennett Valley. Veale provided everything necessary for their children, Vicki, Kent and Kelly, but did not distribute silver spoons.
“My dad was strict,” said Vicki Veale of Santa Rosa. His sister Kelly Veale Juul agreed, noting, “He really wanted to teach his children to be independent and to fend for themselves.”
At the same time, the sisters said, their father was there for them if they ran into a bind or needed help.
Says Vicki Veale, “If we fell, he would pick us up. But he let us down.
His brother Kent called their father “a teacher of lessons he would never give you the answer to. And most of the time, you didn’t even know he was teaching you a lesson.
Kirk and Jamie Veale divorced in 1980. Five years later, something clicked as Veale was talking at the restaurant of Santa Rosa’s famed Flamingo Hotel with Pat Gawley. The San Francisco native had come to Santa Rosa with her daughter, Jill, following a divorce and was working at the Flamingo as a hostess.
They started dating and soon Veale invited Gawley to fly with him to Brazil.
“He proposed to me on Ipanema Beach,” she said. They married in November 1985.
Their four children combined and their friends generally observe that the love they shared was something to behold.
“I loved him for loving his wife so well,” said Julie Nation, a longtime friend who credits Kirk Veale with much of the success of Julie Nation Academy, a Santa Rosa modeling and talent school. 50 years old.
While continuing to sell cars, Veale also branched out into land development and property management. He turned to real estate investing full time after selling his dealership to the Hansel Group in 1991. The site of the former Veale dealership is now home to CarMax.
Early on, Veale purchased land and built affordable apartments, housing estates and other developments. His business has evolved over time into the purchase, modernization and rental of buildings.
Among the Sonoma County buildings owned or once owned by Veale are the now long-defunct Highland House Restaurant, La Rose Hotel, and the former Bank of America building in Guerneville.
His Veale Outdoor Advertising erected the freeway-side electronic billboard in Rohnert Park and other billboards in Sonoma and Solano counties.