AFoCR Director Emeritus, Past President, Vice President and Treasurer Peter Rafaeli was born in the former Czechoslovakia where he received his elementary and high school education. It was followed by an American high school diploma obtained by attending Montgomery County, MD Evening High School.
Peter became AFoCR Treasurer in 2002 and has served as Vice-President since 2005. He also served as AFoCR President in 2008. In those roles, he has provided leadership on many AFoCR projects, including flood relief projects in the Czech Republic, the visa waiver educational project, and the Winton Educational Project. Peter translated for AFoCR, the Czech educational book by Matej Minác "Nicholas Winton's Lottery of Life". He established a fundraising program for the project raising enough funds for AFoCR to publish 17,000 copies. The books are distributed by AFoCR free of charge to educational institutions throughout the U.S.
During the week of October 8, 2007, Peter helped to organize a visit of 98-year old Sir Nicholas Winton to Prague. Sir Nicholas met, during this visit, with the past and current Presidents of the Czech Republic, received the highest military honor from the Czech Minister of Defense, and also met with 2700 student-admirers.
Peter attended John Hopkins University’s Evening College in Baltimore, MD where he majored in Business Administration.
Peter lives with his wife Naomi Block Rafaeli in Rydal, PA. This automotive family includes his youngest daughter, Doris, who graduated from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, MD, followed by a ‘cum laude" B.A. degree from Temple University, where she majored in accounting, and an MBA from Allentown College/Gwynedd Mercy College which she completed in January of 1997. She is a CPA and CFO at an automobile dealership in Montgomery County, PA. His older daughter Tammy is a Service Manager with an independent automobile sales and service company in Towson, MD. She was recognized in 1987 as an outstanding service advisor by Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc., while employed by an authorized Mercedes-Benz in the Baltimore, MD area. The oldest one, a son Anthony, lives with his wife Donna and son Daniel in Levittown, PA. He retired after a 25-year career with Mercedes-Benz of North America.
His wife Naomi, holds two Masters’ degrees from Temple University and Gratz College. She retired as Philadelphia high school teacher after more than 30 years in the Philadelphia School District. She and her late first husband have four children and eight grandchildren. Naomi and Peter were married on January 8, 2014. Together, Peter and Naomi have seven married children, nine grandchildren, and two great granddaughters.
During his long wait to emigrate to the U.S., Peter held a supervisory position for an International Harvester Co. distributor in the Middle East. Upon his arrival in the U.S. he was employed as a heavy equipment technician by a distributor for the same company located in Westchester County, NY. After relocation to the Washington area, he accepted a position as a technician in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1962, he entered the retail automobile business as a Service Advisor for a VW dealership in Washington, D.C. where a year later he became the Assistant Service Manager. In 1964, the VW distributorship recommended him to a VW dealer in Towson, MD where he was offered first the position of Service Manager, subsequently promoted to Parts and Service Director and in 1971 he became, with this organization, the Vice-President and General Manager, as well as stockholder of the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche + Audi Division. This division merged in 1980 with the sister division handling VW and Subaru at which point he became Executive Vice President, General Manager and stockholder of the combined entity.
During his 19 years with this organization, he received a number of awards for outstanding customer service. Amongst them were the 1967 International Service Manager of the Year by Volkswagenwerk, A.G. of Wolfsburg, Germany, the coveted Regional Porsche + Audi "We care" award and others.
While working and living in the Baltimore, MD area in 1969, he became increasingly concerned with the invasion of his native Czechoslovakia by troops of the Warsaw Pact and the aftermath of the invasion. He went to the aid of his countrymen who fled their native land, and with the help of the Catholic Conference, the Tolstoy Foundation and the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria, devised a plan helping these refugees to emigrate to the U.S. He extracted about a dozen families from the refugee camps in Austria and helped them to come to the U.S. He arranged for:
· Housing accommodations
· Basic necessities such as linens, blankets, pots and pans, silverware, etc.
· Jobs for heads of households in his dealership in Towson, MD
· Coordinating VW technician training program with simultaneous translation into the Czech and Slovak languages
· The first written driving test in the Czech language given by the Maryland State Motor Vehicle Administration
After a 19-year association with the Baltimore dealership, in January of 1984, Peter acquired an interest in West German Sales Corp. of Fort Washington, PA., an authorized Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Mazda dealership. In 1988, he added the Oldsmobile franchise which he held until September of 1996. From the original minority stake, he ultimately became sole owner with his daughter Doris. While operating the dealership, which was finally sold in January 1997, he was the President and CEO of the organization which grew from 35 employees in 1984 when he arrived, to a peak of over 130 employees. The sales growth went from 300+ units in 1983 to over 1200 units at its peak year. The sales volume of the business when sold was approaching the $50 million mark. The business was sold in 1997 thus providing Peter with more time to perform volunteer work.
Peter is an activist, and a firm believer in "paying back" to his industry and community in which he lives.