A North American Citroën icon has left us. André Garnier passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 13 in Virginia at 93 years of age, ironically on the same day the annual Florida Citroën meet was taking place – an event that he had arranged each year up until 2016, when he had to pass the torch to organizers Willem van de Wouw and Michael Vest because he was recuperating from a shoulder operation.

André was pre-deceasd by his wife, Yvette Garnier, who passed away at age 63 on Dec 8, 2012 from cancer. Both had been involved with the Citroén community for many years. If you were at the ICCCR in Amherst, MA in 2001, there was a display showing the history of André’s shop and cars.

André is survived by sons; Alain (Mary) Garnier in Leesburg, VA and Philippe (Leslyn) Garnier in Miramar, FL; grandchildren Alexander, Patrick, Claire & Emilie & siblings Graceila Fuentes in Toronto, Canada and Celso Costa in Montreal, Canada.

When André was a young boy growing up in France during World War II there were two things that impressed him. First were the German soldiers. Although they were intimidating to say the least, he could appreciate their attention to detail and their almost perfect discipline. The next was the American soldiers and how different they were from the Germans. The Americans would walk around in bare feet and shirtless. They addressed each other in very casual ways. They were so relaxed, how did they win?

One Sunday when he and his younger brother were walking home from church there was an air raid. They ran and jumped in a hole in their garden to hide. As they lay there, they realized that there were a great many planes overhead so they decided to count them. In the end there were over 1,000 planes that flew over his home that day. He knew that each plane had a crew of 10. 10,000 men were on that mission. He wondered, “How does one organize something like this?”

A few years after the war was over, André decided he would go to America to see the country that had impressed him so. With only 350 Francs to his name and speaking no English, he made the incredible journey to the USA where he ended up settling in Buffalo, NY. There he happened into a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant with a French-speaking chef when he was found rummaging in the trash for food. He told of sleeping on the street, of seeing snow for the first time, of changing jobs often to learn more about America, of buying a car from a junk yard for $20, of going into Canada (some people speak French there, you know) for dances, and of being drafted to fight in the Korean War only to have the War end as he started basic training.

Andre’s training in France was as a machinist and eventually he got jobs working for car dealerships. He was especially good at working on Citroëns and opened his own shop in Buffalo where he specialized in Citroën and french car repairs. Within 6 months he had to hire someone to answer the phone and another mechanic.

After 10 years in Buffalo, André had had enough of the snowy weather and decided to move to Miami and start a Citroën dealership there. It became a success and when he retired he had 37 employees. After he retired, he and his wife Yvette moved to Clermont, FL. Many of André’s former clients kept in contact with him.

Each summer he and Yvette would go back to France and they also loved visiting China, but Clermont Florida (which is named after the French city) became their home. André loved Yvette dearly and was heartbroken when she passed away. Three years ago, at aged 90, André went to live with his son Alain and his wife in Leesburg, VA.

Andre’s health began to decline a couple of weeks ago and he was placed in hospice care in Virginia.

André’s beloved 1953 Traction Avant 11B that he drove in the Trans-Canada Rally in 1994 is currently for sale through Alain on Citroënvie.

Plans are underway for a memorial service in early June in Clermont, FL where family and friends can come together, as André had requested. As soon as we hear more information we will let you all know.