Roast, toast yields more of latter for car dealer

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published March 7, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
Updated March 7, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
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Wayne Bryan

Darrel Teeter, a longtime automobile dealer in the Tri-Lakes region, gets his turn at the microphone during the Hot Spring County Medical Foundation’s annual Toast and Roast, held in his honor on Saturday in Malvern.

For a car salesman long known as Teeter the Cheater, you would think the speakers at a community roast could have called upon a vast catalogue of used-car-lot jokes and tall tales of fast dealing to call Darrel Teeter’s reputation into question.

After the traditional dinner of barbecue and fried chicken, catfish and shrimp at the annual Toast and Roast, hosted by the Hot Spring County Medical Foundation in Malvern, the speakers made several attempts to assault Teeter’s good name. However, they would quickly move to toasting the Malvern businessman for his work, not only in the community but around the world.

Perhaps the mood for good-natured ribbing went off track when the speeches started with giving Teeter special recognition for his help in creating softball fields at the Boys and Girls Club of Malvern and Hot Spring County.

Club CEO Phil Clem and Bill Birch, president of the club’s board of directors, presented Teeter with a framed copy of a plaque that will be placed at the entrance to the fields.

The softball complex, which is used by the entire community, as well as the Boys and Girls Club, is dedicated to Teeter and his wife for their contributions and support to build the facility for community children.

Chris Williams, a circuit judge for the 7th Judicial District and a Malvern native, presided over Saturday night’s roast and toast. Williams began by calling Teeter to come and take a seat in a large rocking chair on the small stage so the audience could see his reaction to the speakers.

The first roaster was Don Nordin, pastor of Christian Temple Church in Houston. An Arkansas native, Nordin was once Teeter’s pastor in Malvern.

He told a tale of Teeter once joining a health club. Nordin read from what was supposed to be Teeter’s daily journal. As the days went by, the journal’s comments moved from optimistic enthusiasm to whimpering and angry refusal to return to the club.

Then Nordin moved to Teeter’s willingness to aid his community.

“Whenever a new minister came to town, he would offer him the use of a car until he and his family were settled,” Nordin said. “He is a major supporter of Brickfest and sponsors 20 to 30 ball teams of all kinds every year.

Then, Nordin told of some mission work sponsored by Teeter that helped others far from Hot Spring County.

Nordin said Teeter helps feed the orphans of Kolkata, once known as Calcutta, India. He has fed as many as 15,000 in a month.

“During the days of the Soviet Union, Darrel supported the Russian Radio Ministry that broadcast services and Christian encouragement into The U.S.S.R. when the church was outlawed,” Nordin said. “He kept it going single-handedly and secretly, and when the communist government fell, millions of Christians came out of hiding.

“His influence has reached out around the world.”

Arkansas Court of Appeals Associate Judge Mac Glover of Malvern was the next speaker and fired a few quips toward Teeter.

“When Darrel had the flu, his employees sent him a get-well card,” Judge Glover said, “after a 17-15 vote.”

While Teeter had the flu, Glover said, he worked on a puzzle that he completed in six weeks.

When Glover asked if that was fast work, Teeter replied, “It must be. The box said it was for 4 to 7 years.”

After some laughs, Glover praised Teeter for his service to Malvern and the state, as well as for all his good works.

The final speaker was John Hughes, who has appeared in the commercials for Teeter Motors for more than 15 years.

Hughes called Teeter “the good, kind guy who makes the weird commercials.”

In response, Teeter did not retaliate for the small jabs from the speakers, but talked about his beginnings as a car salesman.

Before and after going into the auto-dealer business, Teeter was a minister in the Assembly of God Church. He was pastor

at a church in Murfreesboro, making $40 a week.

“After my first year, the church had grown 50 percent, but the church didn’t give me a raise. I had to get a business on the side to have enough for my family. I purchased two used cars,” Teeter said. “By 1963, we had two large sales locations.”

In 1967, he opened his dealership in Malvern.

Teeter said he wanted to keep his life in the ministry separate from his car business.

“I never wanted anyone to trust me in the car business because I was a minister,” he told the gathering. “I wanted my word to be good as a businessman. I never wanted anyone to tell me they believed I was treating them right because I’m a minister.”

The annual dinner, along with live and silent auctions, benefits the Hot Springs County Medical Center in Malvern. Last year’s event brought in almost $23,000. Ann Gasper, marketing director for the hospital, said final amounts were not yet in, but that Saturday’s event exceeded the 2012 totals.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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