It is my sad duty to report the death of MR. CHARLES CAWOOD on November 14, 1992.
Charley, as he was affectionately known to thousands of tractor and engine enthusiasts, together with his wife Sheila, was a regular sight on the country's rally fields. His caravan was a mecca for those requiring published information or just a few friendly words from his vast store of knowledge.
A regular tractor commentator at many events, his wit and personal opinions kept spectators and owners interested, amused and even outraged.
He was very proud of his position as a past chairman of the national executive committee of the National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club, honorary vice president and recent president of the East Yorkshire Group. He was closely associated with many other preservation organizations.
Irascible, knowledgeable, argumentative, helpful and an entertainer, he will be greatly missed by us all.
Submitted by David Ayers, Chairman of East York Group, of National Vintage Tractor & Engine Club, 73 Church Road, Wawne, Hull, HU75XL, England.
A tribute to GILBERT WISNER of Upperco, Maryland: The faithful president of the Maryland Steam Historical Society for 26 years, died unexpectedly July 14, 1992. He was a farmer and sawmiller all his life, Born in 1914', he lived in the days when steam power was still in use on the farms mostly for powering threshing machines. Gilbert knew the gas tractors were fast replacing the old steamers on the farms, and he purchased a 14 HP Frick engine.
In the early 60's, he became president of the Maryland Steam Historical Society. He. loved steam and was an excellent engineer. He also knew how to repair old steamers, and early gas tractors, of which he had a large collection.
He and his brothers also had many gas engines of various makes, which they still exhibit at the annual steam and gas meets nationwide: Mt Pleasant, Iowa; Wauseon, Ohio; Pontiac, Michigan; Indiana shows; Kinzers, Williams Grove, and Penn's Cave, Pennsylvania; Tuckahoe on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; and many, many more. Gilbert was always ready to make a new friend, and teach the younger generation about steam power.
He was a good friend of mine, and we spent many cold wintery Sundays in his shop around the old wood stove, talking about steam railroads, and just plain old times! Words cannot express how much we will miss him. May he rest forever in Paradise, where I hope we all shall meet again.
Submitted by Marshall Matthews, Hampstead, Maryland and sent to us by Robert E. Dreyer, 727 Dunkirk Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21212.
ELMER W. GRAY, 86, a Belt, Montana native, died of natural causes May 16, 1992.
Elmer was born March 28, 1906 in Belt, Montana. He graduated from Belt High School in 1927. After working on farms and as a miner. Elmer enlisted in the Air Force in 1942. He served as a flight engineer on B-17's during World War II. Elmer was discharged from the military in 1945 and returned to and worked the family farm until his death. Elmer really loved gas and steam engines, gardening, flowers and traveling.
From a very young age Elmer was interested in steam tractors. After many years, he finally built a small steam tractor and water wagon to true one-third scale. Elmer very much enjoyed steaming up the original steam tractors and the little tractor and giving rides to his friends.
Elmer was a kind and gentle man and will be sorely missed by all those he touched.
Submitted by Carl Mehmke, Highwood Star Route, Great Falls, Montana.
Swinging the GateWILFRED O. LEARN
Many of you can identify with the excitement and anxiety that exists just prior to the opening of a show, and even more so when it is the very first show. Everything is in its proper place, and all personnel are assigned to their respective duties. Displays will be arriving at any minute, but low and behold-who will be the unsung hero who swings the gate?
Thus it was twenty one years ago when Niagara Antique Power Association was about to launch its initial show. It was on this occasion that my neighbor, and soon to be close friend, volunteered to man the gate.
'I have no engines nor articles to display', said Wilfred O. Learn, 'but perhaps I can be of some help here on the gate.'
Wilf, as we all learned to know him, along with his brother-in-law Harold Case, faithfully swung that gate for the entire show. Not much glory in a job like that, but oh, so important to have someone you can count on, and Wilf was made out of that kind of stuff.
Wilf so enjoyed his new interest in old iron, that he soon began to collect, restore and display. It didn't take long to get 'bitten by the bug', but along with Wilfs gleanings, came so much giving.
Within a year or so, when the club was considering an alternate show location, Wilf asked if his corner field would be appropriate. Not only was it appropriate, but the rural locale was ideal.
Wilf, with his lifelong companion Verna, operated the W. O. Learn Fence Company, which was founded by his father. He was widely known and respected within the community. By nature, he was not an outgoing person, and did not venture far from home or business. However, all this changed when the rusty wheels and gears began to turn.
Wilf kept his fields literally manicured in preparation for our annual show. High spots were levelled, and gullies were filled. Fences and gates were installed, and the site grew both in size and beauty.
Wilf was always there at our work bees with his Ford Dexta and front end loader, along with a supply of tools which everyone else forgot. He served on the board of directors, and was later chosen as an honorary director. His wife, Verna, along with her sister-in-law Ruth, operated the baked goods building at our show for several years. They, together, supported all club functions, and travelling on our bus tours was a cherished event.
Some time ago, when one of the club members suggested our show profits would be higher if we served smaller size ice cream cones, Wilf asked if we were losing money. When the reply was 'no,' Wilf said, 'Keep them the size that they are. We want poeple to be happy and enjoy themselves.'
Wilf's activities took an abrupt slowdown a few years ago when he suffered a severe stroke, but his determination allowed him mobility, even in his wheel chair, or little Allis Chalmers lawn tractor with its triangular slow moving sign.
The quality of life deteriorated for Wilf, and on December 1, 1991, in his 73rd year, he was called to his eternal reward. He shared with me, before his departure, his readiness to meet his maker. Our loss is His gain.
He left his dear wife Verna, his son Carl, his granddaughter Lisa, a host of fellow members and friends, and a commitment to Niagara Antique Power Association for the use of the show site for as long as the club exists.
I personally cherish the memory of Wilf's friendship as a dedicated member, caring neighbor and a committed gate swinger.
Submitted by Karl G. Fretz, 1239 Burger Road, Ridgeway, Ontario L0S IN0.