Near the end of Sabino Canyon Road, where it meets Rudasill Road, is a small street named in honor of the family that started the fifth-largest auto-rental firm in the nation.

Tom S. Duck Sr., was born Dec. 26, 1913, in Indianapolis. He attended the University of Arizona, where he first caught the eye of his future wife, Junia E. Foster, who was a cousin of late Arizona Gov. Sidney P. Osborn. Foster was majoring in archaeology and Duck Sr. joked in a 1987 interview, "She went to the UA to get a husband, and she dug me up." Both graduated in 1935. They married a year later.

After graduation Duck worked as a contractor, building and remodeling homes. That was one of many jobs he held over the next 38 years. In 1973, the family returned to Tucson from Ontario, Calif., to retire and bought 12 acres of land in the Sabino Canyon area.

In 1977, while looking at the family cars, Duck Sr. conceived the idea that would become Ugly Duckling Rent-A-Car Systems Inc. The enterprise began with a $10,000 investment used to buy 10 used vehicles - the most expensive being a 1973 AMC Hornet that set him back $1,250. In the early days, rentals began at $4.95 per day, in addition to a nickel a mile.

The family business eventually became the fifth-largest car-rental firm in the U.S., with the elder Duck as president, Junia as vice president, son Tom S. Duck Jr. as CEO and treasurer, and daughter Carolynn Duck as director of merchandising. Carolynn handled the catalog, which sold everything from license-plate frames to golf shirts.

The company at one point had about 600 franchises across the U.S. In 1989, Tom Sr. filed for bankruptcy and later the company was bought by Ernest C. Garcia II. In 2002, the company name was changed to DriveTime Automotive Group Inc.

On the 12 acres Duck bought in the Sabino Canyon area, he built his house at what is now 6116 N. Via Tres Patos. His son and daughter later built houses of their own just south of his, on separate lots. Tom Sr. died in 2000.

Foss Tucker, a longtime friend of the late Tom Duck Sr., said that in 1992 the family asked that the street be called Via Tres Patos, or Three Ducks Way, since the family occupied three lots on the then-tiny street.

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Each week Street Smarts tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at streetsmarts@azstarnet.com

Sources: Dedicated to Raheem J. Sanders. Interview with Foss Tucker (longtime friend of Thomas Duck Sr. and former member of Ugly Duckling's board of directors) 1993 Cole Directory Office of Vital Records - birth certificate of Junia E. Foster Warranty Deed May 20, 1981 (Thomas and Junia Duck) Alan D. Fischer, "Tom Duck dies at 86; discount rental car firm used his name," Arizona Daily Star, Sept. 3, 2000 Bob Svejcara, "Persistence has made Ugly Duckling rentals a family success story," Arizona Daily Star, March 15, 1987 Ernie Heltsley, "Planners' sense of humor shows in road names," Arizona Daily Star, May 17, 1998 United Press International, "Fast-rising Rental Firm Sells Value," Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1985 DriveTime Inc. history: www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/drivetime-automotive-group-inc-history/ 1988 company prospectus Tom S. Duck Sr. eulogy (written by Tom S. Duck Sr. before he died) Nathan Vardi, Feather Nest, Forbes Magazine, November 2001