DETROIT -- Sam Cupp, CEO of Hamilton Chevrolet Inc. in suburban Detroit, died Thursday.
Cupp, 64, died suddenly while playing hockey, said Kris Marshall, president and CEO of Winning Futures, a nonprofit mentoring program founded by Cupp.
Cupp worked at Gene Hamilton Chevrolet when he was in high school, starting off doing tasks such as washing and displaying cars. Within 18 years, he had climbed the employment ranks of the store to become dealer principal and co-owner of Hamilton Chevrolet by 1982.
He later became CEO.
Cupp founded many other Michigan companies during his business career such as fleet leasing firm Pro Leasing Services LLC, recreational vehicle dealership Annie Ray RV, Price Right Automotive Group LLC and QEK Global Solutions Inc.
In 2005, QEK was acquired by a group of investors that included Penske Truck Leasing Co. LP.
Cupp founded Winning Futures in 1994. The award-winning nonprofit matches mentors with high school students to provide life skills training and mentoring that emphasizes character-building, goal-setting and strategic planning.
Students can compete for scholarships, and the program also offers workbooks and activities that can be integrated into programming.
"Sam Cupp was the most giving, kind, caring and inspiring man I have ever known," Marshall said in an e-mail. "Even though his untimely death is a tragedy for our community, Sam's legacy, character and beliefs will live on through his family and Winning Futures. We will all deeply miss our friend and mentor."
Besides hockey, Cupp also was an avid flier as an instrument-rated, multiengine pilot. He's survived by his wife, Betty; daughters Anne and Amy; and three grandchildren.