Vladimir (Val) Jan Antonin Fejtek
April 9, 1933 – June 26, 2018
Vladimir Jan Antonin Fejtek (Val) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on April 9, 1933,
the son of the late Vladimir (Vlad) Fejtek and Blanka Novotna Fejtek. With the tragic
loss of his mother in a car crash when Val was 5 years old, Val was raised by his father
and paternal grandmother Blazena Novotna. He attended private school in Prague until
the age of 14. In 1948 at the advent of the Communist Regime in Czechoslovakia,
upheaval occurred again in Val’s life. He and his father were forced to say a difficult
goodbye to all their family and friends and escaped the country with the clothes on their
back leaving behind all their possessions, property, and family food business. Val was
awarded a scholarship from Rotary International to attend Pepperdine University in Los
Angeles where he courageously and enthusiastically started a new life at the age of 15.
He made history at Pepperdine by becoming the youngest student ever to graduate from
the school and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business at the age of 18! Val extended
his stay in the U.S. under his temporary student visa and went on to attend graduate
school at USC.
While at USC, Val’s love affair with cars began on weekends working at Chieftain
Pontiac. His sales ability, tenacity, and charm led him to receive the award of No. 1
Pontiac car salesman in the U.S. He was featured in a training film for General Motors
on how to be a great car salesman!
Val was first married to Lillian Churain and in 1955 they had one son, Michael Fejtek.
In 1963 Val married Stela Staroba from Toronto, Canada and moved to Glendale, CA.
Together they had three children; Tim, Tina and Paul.
In 1971 he opened his own dealership in Covina, CA as one of the first Mazda dealers in
the country. Over the next 25 years Val grew the business and was awarded additional
franchises including British Leyland (MG, Triumph, and Jaguar), Delorean, Isuzu,
Daihatsu, Saab, and Maserati. His son Paul worked by his side as General Manager for
four years at Val’s flagship dealership facility alongside the 10 Freeway in West Covina, CA Penske Automotive Group acquired the operation in January 1997 and still
maintains the Jaguar franchise and their Mercedes line is currently located in the same
modern facility Val built.
Val was an avid snow skier and was President of the Pepperdine Ski Club. He taught
skiing on weekends at Mt. Baldy, CA for many years and in 1956 he was allowed to stay
in the country thanks to a special work visa granted by the U.S. Immigration Office. His
petition was approved thanks in large part to his sponsorship by Mt. Baldy as an
instructor and a letter from ski school director William Roth touting Val’s “European ski
training and highly sought-after skills and proficiency were URGENTLY needed by the
company, and the United States as a whole.” Val was a proud member of the
Professional Ski Instructors Association (PSIA) and at a special ceremony in Aspen, CO
in 2011 he was awarded the organization’s first ever 50-year certification pin. He
received this honor on stage with the likes of pioneers in the ski industry Klaus
Obermeyer, Stein Eriksen and others.
He was a loving father and fiercely proud of his children. Besides teaching them to ski at
a very young age, he supported them in their academic, athletic, business, and other
pursuits. Val was loving and generous with his siblings, extended family, and friends.
For many years Val focused his efforts on real estate holdings in Prague, Czech Republic
which he inherited from his father. There were numerous business trips to Prague to
oversee his properties and visit with his Czech relatives.
On Wednesday June 26, 2018 at age 85, Val died peacefully in Pasadena, CA
surrounded by the love of his children Michael, Tim, Tina and Paul and their spouses
Val is survived by his sister Beatrice Fejtek Hines of Encinitas, CA, his brother Ian
(Sarah) Fejtek of Toronto, Canada, his three sons; Michael Fejtek, Tim (Denise L.)
Fejtek, Paul (Denise D.) Fejtek; his daughter Tina (Tim) Weidenkeller; his six grandchildren;
Stacie Fejtek (Colby) Smith, Kristen Fejtek, Jeromey (Kathy) Shafer, Ashley
Fejtek, Allison Fejtek, and Timothy Fejtek; and three great grand-children Laurel Smith,
Robin Smith, and Cali Shafer. He is also survived by his two nephews David Hines and
Jonathan Fejtek; his niece Emily Fejtek; and his ex-wife Stela Fejtek.
A private family service will be held on Monday July 2, 2018 at Forest Lawn in
Glendale, CA. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in his honor to Pepperdine
University or Rotary International.