A Brief Word

| February/March 1996

Just as we sat down to begin this column on December 9,1995, we learned of the tragic death of seven of our friends, and critical injuries for yet another. About 9:00 a.m. on December 9, a group of folks from the Cedar Rapids area was headed to Mt. Pleasant for the annual meeting of Midwest Old Threshers. As was customary, this group was in Virgil Coonrod's motor home, and traveling together for fun and companionship. As we have it at this moment, a semi-trailer jackknifed and skidded broadside on the roadway. The motor home had no way to avoid colliding with the trailer.

Dead at the scene were: Virgil Conrad, Jim Patton, Jack Dye, Steve Barron, Doug and Mary Wiley, and Bill Benishek Jr. Jack Dye's wife, Marnell, survived the crash in critical condition, but succumbed the following day.

These folks were all friends of mine. Many of you folks were acquainted with some or all of them. For this writer, it's especially difficult to accept the fact that seven of my friends died at the same instant. I was a friend of Virgil Coonrod for well over thirty years. Over that time there were numerous forays in the search for old iron. Especially in the past twenty years, Jim Patton and I had gone on numerous trips together, either to look at, or to buy anything from old books on engines to finding engines or parts. I'd rubbed elbows with all the other folks in this tragic accident, and knew them all very well. Thus, it's rather difficult for me to write a sensible column this month . . . and I beg the indulgence of all of you, in that this column will be rather brief. Due to publication deadlines for this issue, the obituaries for each of these folks will not be published until the March 1996 issue of GEM. Suffice it to say at this point that the engine and tractor collectors have indeed suffered a great loss.

From my wife Sheila, and myself, along with the entire GEM staff, we express our sincere condolences to all the families touched by this tragedy.

Our queries this month include:

31/2/1 Hayes Sprayers Q. See this copy of a 1916 advertisement showing the Hayes power sprayer with their engine attached. This is in response to the recent sightings of Hayes engines. Also, what is the year built of a Witte engine, s/n 9284? Bill Hazzard, 633 George St., Norristown, PA 19401.


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