The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) announced the passing of longtime member, shop owner and AASP/NJ Hall of Fame inductee Lee Vetland on Jan. 1 at the age of 71.
Vetland owned Lee’s Auto Body and Pine Top Service in Avenel, N.J., and was the co-owner of the Colonia Country Club (the site of AASP/NJ’s annual golf outing) in Colonia. In addition to his long history with AASP/NJ, Vetland was a founder and board member of Auto Body Distributing Co. and served as president of the Garden State Automotive Federation, one of the groups that merged to form AASP/NJ nearly 20 years ago.
“Lee had a heart of gold; he would do anything for you,” said Jerry McNee, president of AASP/NJ. “He was a leader. When he saw something that needed to be changed, he did something about it. I wish everyone could take a page out of his book. If they did, this industry – and this world – would be a better place.”
Added AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant, “Lee always pushed and fought to make things better. I had a long relationship with him, and he was a great guy. If he didn’t like something, he’d tell you in a minute! Lee will certainly be remembered as an industry icon for his many hard-fought battles and what he accomplished to make the industry what it is today. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.”
Vetland was born in Rahway, N.J., and resided in Avenel and Colonia his entire life. Away from the auto body industry, he was an avid golfer and always up for a good game of cards. He also enjoyed trips to Florida, watching NASCAR and tailgating at Giants games.
He was predeceased by his parents, Art and Ginny Vetland. Surviving are his daughter and best friend, Katie Vetland, her husband, Alejandro Picado, and her mother, Maria Harriette Vetland; his sister, Joann Vetland, and her wife, Carol DiStefano; his devoted partner, Linda Scapicchio; and many wonderful friends he thought of as family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lee Vetland Memorial Fund, 1100 Saint Georges Ave., Avenel, NJ 07001.