Sources close to the family have confirmed that local car dealer Billy Navarre passed away this morning after a battle with cancer, and most recently, fungal pneumonia.

Navarre, 61, a native of Welsh, owned dealerships in Lake Charles and Sulphur for over 30 years. He was probably best known for his philanthropic efforts across Southwest Louisiana.

A graduate of Welsh High school, he attended McNeese State University. He employed over 300 employees among his dealerships. He started his first one in 1982 at the age of 26. He was the father of six.

The Lake Charles American Press listed the many community awards that Navarre was given during his time in business.

Chamber Southwest named Navarre Citizen of the Year in 2008. In 1990, Navarre also won the Citizen of the Year Award from the West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce.

Navarre has received many other awards throughout the years, including the Marine Corps’ Citizen of the Year; Southwest Daily’s Man of the Year; Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year; Young Businessman’s Club Citizen of the Year; Blue Cross/Blue Shield Angel Award; Louisiana Association of Education President’s Award; Literacy Hero Award; Rotary Distinguished Service Award; Four-time Friend of Education Award for Calcasieu Parish; Friend of Education Award for the entire state; Heart of Gold Award in Southwest Louisiana; Lake Charles Jaycee Outstanding Young Man; Delta Sigma Theta Outstanding Public Service Award; United Way Silver Award; Honda President’s Award; GM Mark of Excellence Award; BBB Torch Award for Highest Standard of Ethics; and the Family Foundation’s Outstanding Community Philanthropist.