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Lucille Treganowan, 92, pioneering woman in auto repair, dies

As a single mother in the early 1960s, she began what would be a long career in the automotive industry that escalated into TV appearances with Tim Allen, David Letterman, Oprah and others

Pittsburgh—Lucille Treganowan, of Pittsburgh, who was a pioneering woman business owner, author, educator and television personality passed away last week at the age of 92.

As a single mother in the early 1960s, she began what would be a long career in the automotive industry. Starting as an office/clerical worker at Tony Scuro’s automatic transmission shop in Homewood, Pa., she soon began studying transmissions. Soon, she was road testing, diagnosing, and managing all aspects of the business. She eventually became a partner, then opened her own business, Transmissions by Lucille.

Treganowan was the first woman in the area to obtain a Small Business Administration loan at a time when women were routinely denied financial and business opportunities, as well as overcoming sexist stereotypes and ignorance with humor and patience, her family stated in her obituary, but was not above “skewering the occasional customer or salesperson who would only deal with ‘the boss man.'”

While her family said Treganowan didn’t consider herself a feminist, she mentored thousands of women, through classes in general car knowledge and every-day maintenance. Her classes helped displaced homemakers, housewives, aspiring mechanics, and future business leaders.

Treganowan’s television career began with weekly spots on Pittsburgh’s Daybreak show. The Powder Puff Mechanics spots soon grew into a movement. Eventually, she had her own ongoing show on the Home and Garden network (Lucille’s Car Care Clinic.) Treganowan appeared in an episode of Home Improvement with Tim Allen, and made appearances with Oprah, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and more.

Treganowan authored a helpful book on basic car care and toured the country touting her book, appearing at conventions, book stores and car shows. She went on to complete her college degree at Chatham College when she was in her sixties. Treganowan retired in her mid-seventies.

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