STEPHENVILLE — Illness forced a course change after Sam Pack started classes at Tarleton State University in 1956. But it never diminished his belief in the power of education or his drive to make life better for others.
He has given liberally over the years to hundreds of nonprofits and community endeavors, and today Tarleton recognized his leadership and giving spirit with an honorary doctorate of humane letters during spring 2023 commencement ceremonies.
“Sam gives tirelessly of his time, selflessly of his energy and generously of his resources,” said university President James Hurley. “His life’s work is an example of the spirit Tarleton Texans embody and a model for all of us to follow.”
Pack owns and operates six Five Star dealerships (Pack Automotive Group) in the Dallas-Fort Worth market and co-owns six more in Tulsa. In 2018 he cofounded Triton Automotive Group, a collection of like-minded dealers (16 shareholders, representing 200 dealerships).
The Texas Automobile Dealers Association in 2005 recognized him as an Industry Legend — only the second person in the association’s 93-year history so named. He was one of five dealers inducted into Ford’s inaugural Top Volume Dealers Hall of Fame in 2016.
His business and community leadership earned him the national 1988 TIME Dealer of the Year tribute, one of the auto industry’s most coveted honors. Only one other Texas dealer has received this award, and none since Pack.
“An honorary doctorate is Tarleton’s highest recognition,” said Dr. Diane Stearns, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, “and it is fitting that one goes to Sam Pack. His achievements are exemplary, and his love for all people is inspirational.”
Pack supports more than 300 nonprofits, service organizations and community events through Sam Pack Cares, the charitable arm of Pack Automotive. In 2003 he received the Ford Motor Company Salute to Dealers Award, presented by Edsel Ford II, for his commitment to improve communities and the lives of individuals in them.
He has given to Tarleton’s food pantry, the President’s Circle and the Dr. James and Kindall Hurley Scholarship Endowment. The Tarleton State University Pack Automotive Group Intern Program provides Texans with learning opportunities that inspire career success.
“I am deeply humbled to receive this honorary doctorate degree, and I thank Chancellor John Sharp, the Board of Regents, Tarleton’s faculty and staff, and President Hurley,” Pack said. “When President Hurley shared the news, I was surprised and filled with excitement. Tarleton has always had a special place in my heart. My family and I are proud to support this wonderful university.”