Thursday, 19 May 2022 10:38

Collision Repair Industry Trailblazer Sheila Loftus Dies at 79


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Sheila Loftus, an innovator who led collision repair publications and associations, passed away May 11. She was 79.

An inimitable businesswoman, a beloved mother, grandmother and friend, and a voracious, enthusiastic lifelong learner, Loftus died of complications from a stroke at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City, with her family by her side.


Born Oct. 18, 1942, Loftus graduated from Shaw High School and Baldwin Wallace College (now University), then began her career as a public school math and science teacher in Cleveland, OH. After a move with her family to Washington, D.C., she worked at a daycare center and did freelance photography before becoming a trailblazer in the collision repair industry as a successful, innovative and influential woman in a male-dominated field.


For more than 30 years, Loftus was the editor and publisher of the D.C.-based trade magazine Hammer and Dolly and the executive director of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA). In addition, she founded the CRASH Network, a weekly publication of industry news, and co-founded the Women's Industry Network (WIN).


In 1996, she was inducted into the collision repair industry's version of the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Eagles.


Loftus's impact was international in scope. Hammer and Dolly had subscribers around the world, and she reported on industry exhibitions, technologies and controversies in Australia, Japan, Taiwan and half a dozen other countries.


But she also wrote about local events and personalities. "Body Man of the Month" and "Women at Work" features appeared in each month's Hammer and Dolly.


While Loftus was intent on providing the men and women in the collision repair industry with information they could use to succeed---and to protect their health---she also liked to make her readers laugh. Hammer and Dolly's "Whoopie Car" issue, in which people in the industry ranked the best cars for sex (and reminisced, in G-rated fashion, about their backseat exploits), was a big hit.


So was the annual swimsuit issue. At once a parody and a tribute to Sports Illustrated's famous non-sports issue, Hammer and Dolly's version made a model of anyone in the industry brave enough to pose next to a car, truck, van or motorcycle in a swimsuit and a smile.


After Loftus retired from the collision repair industry in 2008, she...

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