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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Lasting Service

When “Elvis left the building,” he sometimes had John F. Maier to thank.

Maier, an Evansville native, drove a limousine for the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, during his trips to Evansville in 1972 and 1976.

But the icon is far from the only superstar that Maier, owner and founder of Comaier Services, has escorted over the last five decades of the family owned business.

Nearly every entertainer who has performed at the now-demolished Roberts Stadium or The Ford Center and used a limousine or SUV driving service has used Comaier Services to take them to and from their destination. Through the help of promoters like Larry Aiken and Sunshine Promotion, Maier’s company has driven names such as John Denver, Glen Campbell, Aerosmith, Kiss, Kenny Rogers, and Bob Seger.

“Once you get on the roster of these promoters around the country, they keep a file on every city they are promoting,” Maier says. “When it comes up Evansville, Ind., why I was just there. When they come back five, 10, or 30 years later … that’s how you get known. Just stay put.”

And that’s just what Maier, 69, has done. The company will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 4. “There was no planning of this company,” he says. “If you asked me to do something, I did it.”

Maier grew up on the same block as the Fire Alarm Station, 118 Baker Ave., and the now-closed Johann Funeral Home, 113 Garfield Ave., near N. Main Street. At 17 years old, Maier started driving ambulances for Johann Funeral Home, which is where he met his longtime friend Fred Lucas.

Then at 18, Maier drove funeral coaches and limos at a funeral auto livery in Indianapolis, before he decided he could bring his own business home. In May 1964, a 19-year-old Maier borrowed $300 from his aunt Mildred Thompson and another $350 from Lucas, who “hawked” his car for Maier. With the money, Maier purchased a 1953 Pontiac ambulance and medical equipment.

Before the U.S. Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act of 1973, Maier said, “only personal experience was required” to work in an ambulance. Maier drove the ambulances at racetracks such as Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.

The company, located at 111 E. Columbia St., quickly grew to motorcycle funeral escort services and funeral auto livery, limousines, security guard services, wheelchair transport, traffic control, and oversize load escort. The ambulance service was sold in 1994. Maier also owns Boone Funeral Home, which he bought in 1985.

Comaier Services now employs around 70 people, many of whom include Maier’s children and grandchildren.

For more information on Comaier Services, call 812-422-8515 or visit comaierservices.com.

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