Feature: Antique truck lover

Antique truck lover didn't let life's passion take the back seat

| June 2008

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    ENJOYABLE WORK: Don Bovaird, above, created a limousine business from his love for antiques. At the end of his life, the Girard, Pa., hobbyist had four vehicles in his fleet. For getting around, though, he and his dog, Elmo, rode in a '39 pickup (below).

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My father, Don Bovaird, of Girard, Pa., followed the same routine for the last 10 years of his life. At 7:30 a.m., he got into his green 1939 Ford pickup, and his black Labrador retriever, Elmo, got into its place behind him. Then the two headed to McDonald's for an early morning chat with his antique car buddies. Dressed in a faded jeans jacket, work jeans and chauffeur's cap, Dad would sip coffee and chat 'truck talk' with his makeshift car club.

That was his overriding passion in life - cars. As he aged, his interests aged with him; he became an antique lover, and that love led to a lucrative and unusual limousine business.

Practical antiques

Don Bovaird was a dreamer - but a practical one. Born in Brockway, Pa., in 1927, he moved to Girard in 1962 and later bought land in Fairview, four miles away. There, his dream of restoring old vehicles would become a reality.

He had long ago become known as 'Don Bovaird - the Tree Man,' thanks to the tree removal business he started more than 50 years ago. Business was slow during the winter season, and he began restoring antiques on the side about 1990, with some of his tree crew helping him.

His vision was to restore old vehicles to their heyday glory, but he decided straightaway to install modern motors in them. That way, he could drive them on an everyday basis. As he restored a vehicle, he added body panels to stretch it out. And so, he found a practical, if unconventional, avenue for his hobby: a limousine business.

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