Back in March 6, 1974, the Philadelphia Inquirer printed a simple obituary on the recent passing of Alphonse K. Roart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Reading the small death notice, one would have no idea the life Roart had led over the last 76 years.
Roart, originally from France, graduated from a cooking school as leading pastry cook in a class of 400. He was foremost cook for the House of Princess DeLigne of Belgium and the House of Rothchild in Paris. In August of 1921, Roart came to the U. S. with his bride, Lucie, working as a caterer in Philadelphia for several years. By 1928 he was the manager of the Bar Harbour Yacht Club as Roart and his wife lived on Farragut Avenue in Philadelphia. He proudly became a naturalized citizen in 1930. Roart was appointed chief pastry cook for John Pierpont Morgan before World War II. In the early 1950s, Roart and his wife moved to the Palm Beach County in Florida. There he worked as the chef for the Atwater Kent family of Palm Beach and remained for the next 20 years. Over the years he became a high-in-demand chef and caterer for many of the Island of Palm Beach estates.
What makes this Philadelphia chef of special interest is the tremendous respect he held for President John F. Kennedy. With the Kennedy Palm Beach connections and Joe Kennedy’s residence, Roart was very familiar with the Kennedys.
At the Palm Beach Kennedy compound after John Kennedy took office as president was a new stunning 1962 Lincoln Continental four-door sedan automobile, which cost $4,200. This was used by the First Family to travel to church or go shopping on Worth Avenue whenever the Kennedy family vacationed at the ‘Winter White House’ on the Island of Palm Beach.
In July of 1963, Roart read an advertisement in a Palm Beach newspaper describing the Kennedy Palm Beach Lincoln Continental car which was now for sale and just knew he wanted that Kennedy car. Roart purchased it by August, just three months before Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The car had 7,300 miles on it and was sold to Roart for $5,495.
After the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, Alphonse Roart was distraught at the lost of his hero. However, he was very proud of owning the car that President Kennedy and his family had ridden in numerous times.
This fascinating piece of Kennedy’s ‘Camelot’ began in Palm Beach and found a new home with a Philadelphia chef living in Florida. The 8-cylinder, 430 engine vehicle was a rich oyster shell white exterior accented with a tropical turquoise interior color. Roart kept it protected from the weather and only showed it to a few select friends over the years.
By early 1970, at age 72, Alphonse and his wife wanted to retire and move back to his original home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He desired that this piece of history, the 1962 Lincoln Continental used by John and Jackie Kennedy, be housed and secure in Florida. Yet, he also wanted the general public an opportunity to view the car as well.
Roart made arrangements to donate the 1962 Florida Kennedy car to a local museum near Palm Beach. Roart made the presentation to the museum on Tuesday, April 14, 1970 and it went on exhibit the next day.
The famous car remained on display in the museum for years. From Englewood, Colorado, Ken Mausolf, a well-known classic car collector learned of the JFK car in Florida. He immediately flew to Florida attempting to negotiate a deal for the purchase of this classic car. It took a couple weeks, but at last the Kennedy car was acquired in early February 1976 by Mausolf for $3,500. He immediately had his son, Ken Jr. drive the show piece car across country to Colorado. After the 2,300 mile drive, Ken Jr. commented that the trip was a trouble free journey, that the car rode very smooth and comfortable.
As a member of the Rolls Royce Owners Club of the Rocky Mountain Region, the Rolls Royce types of vehicles were certainly his favorite cars. However, Mausolf also had quite an assortment of cars with a good deal of provenance. He took immense pride in showing off some of these prized vehicles, such as a 1956 cream white Lincoln Continental once owned by Elvis Presley.
However, the trophy piece of his collection was the 1962 Lincoln Continental used by President John F. Kennedy and First Lady, Jackie, whenever they were at the Kennedy family home in Palm Beach, Florida. Ken had tried to determine where the Secret Service special mark for identification (so the car couldn’t be switched) was placed on the car, but was never able to locate it.
After a few years Ken did sell the car to a man in Missouri for $11,000, who planned to set up a historical car museum. That man later became very ill and Ken immediately purchased the car back in 1980 for $10,000. From then on the car was in a warehouse or on exhibit at the Mausolf car dealership at 4651 S. Broadway in Englewood, Colorado or in auto shows during the years Ken owned it. He even had a special auto tag made which read Kennedy. Ken loved the Kennedy car and especially showing it off in parades.
By 1987 the 1962 Lincoln Continental had some 51,252 miles. Ken had kept it in wonderful condition with its mahogany inlays on dashboard and glove compartment, AM radio, fully running air-conditioning; however it had no bulletproof glass, no special security equipment or seat belts. There was still the seal in the front left window stating “President of the United States” and the Florida 1976 state inspection sticker.
Over the years, the value of the car increased. Its value estimated in 1992 was $100,000 to $150,000 and still owned and exhibited by Mausolf. As the years went by, Ken’s health declined and he had to sell most of his prized vehicles. Just prior to Mausolf’s death on March 10, 2007, the Kennedy car was sold. It was resold again in October 2008 at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Las Vegas, Nevada for $209,000.
This vehicle is a highly prized piece of history which has been loved and treasured for nearly 50 years.
Image of JFK in LIFE MAGAZINE getting out of the car – issue July 16, 1965, page 34.
“Alphonse K. Roart Donates Car”, Post Beach Times, April 15, 1970, in West Palm Beach, FL.
“Mausolf and the Kennedy Car”, by Mark Wolf, Rocky Mountain News, Sept. 23, 1987 in Denver, Colorado.
Phone and email interviews with the Mausolf family members, April and May 2010.
Photo from Mausolf family in 1993 of Kennedy car.