The man who pioneered the self-service pump dies

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Bernard Roth, the man behind the self-service gas pump, died Sunday. Funeral services are set for Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Funeral services are scheduled in Los Angeles on Wednesday for Bernard Roth, who was 95-years-old when he died Sunday. He’s the man behind an activity so routine, you probably take it for granted.

Now that it’s possible to check out your own groceries, bank 24/7 at ATMs and book travel tickets online, the idea that self-service gas pumps used to be a novelty seems downright quaint.

But just four decades ago, full-service was the norm at two-thirds of the gas stations in America. Through his company, California-based World Oil, Roth promoted the rapid expansion of self-service. It took off during the 1970s, when the jump from an average 40 cents to $1.08 a gallon shocked consumers.

A former ARCO executive credits Roth with transforming the corner service station into one of the most powerful business models in the country. Roth also established a family foundation that’s contributed to the LA County Museum of Art, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, neighborhood-based services in Compton and Jewish organizations including schools, summer camps and the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the site of his funeral.

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