GM mechanic from Macomb gets the Cadillac of funerals.
Detroit Free Press
January 21, 2015
By: Christina Hall
Lee Randall lived and breathed Cadillacs.
On Wednesday,, the 70-year-old Washington Township mechanic took his last ride in one — a black Cadillac hearse — from Roth-Muir Funeral Home in Romeo to his final resting place at Mt. Vernon Cemetery.
Mr. Randall's family and friends made sure that the half-century Cadillac mechanic, who died Saturday, got a Cadillac of a sendoff.
The exterior of his silver casket had chrome accents and Cadillac emblems that he collected through the years and tucked in a drawer in his toolbox. It was pinstriped by Frank Galli, who also detailed part of the Cadillac crest with Randall's initials and an old English D with #1 Fan on the exterior to symbolize two of Randall's loves.
At the funeral home, one of his favorite songs — "One Piece at a Time" by Johnny Cash (which is about an assembly line worker in Detroit who sneaks a Cadillac out one piece at a time then puts them all together) — was played, said his son, Robert Randall.
"He would think it was excessive, but I think he'd be happy of how classy the presentation is," Robert Randall, 51, said of what his father would think of the sendoff.
But those who love and remember Lee Randall believe it's a fitting tribute for a man who once estimated that he had driven 25,000 Cadillacs during his lifetime.
Lee Randall not only worked on Cadillacs, but he also owned and drove them since the mid-1970s, Robert Randall said.
He thought that the first Cadillac his father owned was a white, 1973 Eldorado convertible. He said there is still a Cadillac Seville parked in the driveway. He said his father liked the new Cadillacs but preferred the roomier models that he thought were more comfortable.
Robert Randall said his father, a Detroit native, learned as a teenager how to fix cars from a man who had a garage and taught kids in the neighborhood. Lee Randall graduated from Cooley High School in 1962.
He worked at different Cadillac dealerships in metro Detroit but spent more than 30 years at Don Gooley Cadillac. He retired from the St. Clair Shores dealership in 2013.
"It's a tough job," Robert Randall said of his father's work. "His whole life, that's what he did."
He said his father had a few health issues the last few months, but died suddenly of natural causes, possibly a blood clot.
Robert Randall said in addition to loving Cadillacs and the Detroit Tigers, his father enjoyed being with his family, including his grandchildren and his wife, whom he married on Valentine's Day in Las Vegas nearly 27 years ago. He enjoyed butter tarts, four-wheeling, politics and traveling, according to his obituary.
Robert Randall said his dad was a fan of John Wayne and Detroit native Tom Selleck, had a Coke Slurpee every day for the last 20 years and loved going to the North American International Auto Show, which is going on now at Cobo Center in Detroit.
Lee Randall was described as a "true gentleman," someone who comes "once in a lifetime" and who talked about his family with a wide smile every day at work, according to condolences on the funeral home's website. His neighbors wrote that he was a good neighbor who worked around his house and indicated that they would miss his holiday decorations, especially the Christmas lights.
Galli, 73, of Shelby Township, who spent 45 minutes detailing Lee Randall's casket, said he got a call from Don Gooley Cadillac notifying him about Randall's death.
He knew Randall for 50 years and worked with him weekly at the dealership, where he said Randall prepped every car that came into the business.
"I striped everything he owns," Galli said of Randall. "He was a cool guy. The boys wanted me to do it. It made me feel good that I could do something for his last trip."