Its rare these days to find a gas station that will fix your car too. Now there will be one less in Tucson. The owner of A and M Shell, near Speedway and Craycroft, is retiring and closing the business after 59 years.

Arnold Mendez, Senior is 88 years old. For 59 of those years his business has been fixing cars and filling gas tanks for a long line of customers who became loyal friends. Now hes retiring and closing the business.

Juanita KIngston says shes probably taken nine or ten cars to the service center. I’m kind of at a loss because for 46 years, we just take the car in and say it’s making this noise or it needs this. And knowing that we were always going to get an honest, good repair, they have taken care of us. And it’s going to be hard. I don’t know what we’re gonna do now for a mechanic.

The Mendez family took a dangerous road to Tucson. It started in Cuba. Arnold Mendez says he helped get guns and money to rebels fighting Castro. He says he spent 29 days behind bars.

I was very lucky that they actually didn’t discover everything that I was doing, otherwise, maybe I wouldnt be here.

They escaped to the U.S. where a refugee program sent them to Tucson. Here, Catalina Methodist Church helped them get settled.

He says he wanted to be a pastor but found some of that sense of service helping families keep their cars running smoothlybecause that helps keep your life running smoothly. Hes proud of that work, and proud of the former workers who started their own roads to success from inside these service bays.

Twenty two people that work here have their own business in different places in Arizona and Nevada and all over. Sometimes they call me from Washington say Im grateful Arnold that you helped us.

He says hes grateful for all the people who helped him build his business over all those years. He expects the new owners to drop the auto service and convert the building to a convenience store but they may still pump gas for customers who want it. But it will be hard to give up the place that gave his family so much.

Reporter Craig Smith asked: What’s it going to be like for you to drive by this place?

Arnold: I’m going to find another route.

Craig: Rather than see what.?

Arnold: Right.