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'For What It’s Worth'… The Harry S. Lee Auction

Harry S. Lee Auction - May 4, 2019, Wichita, KS

By Yvette VanDerBrink

Harry Lee loved Ford Cars and was always willing to give his opinion. In fact, if you were talking cars or at a swap meet and heard Harry say, “for what it’s worth,” guys knew that they better pay attention because it was more than likely a statement of truth or a correction to the topic of conversation.

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Harry’s love of cars started when he was very young. His dad was always moving around and he grew up in various locations. While in Minneapolis, he would ride his bike down to the Ford plant and look in the windows trying to catch a glimpse of the workers making his favorite Fords. Harry noted in his journal, he remembers taking a daily journey to watch the cars being made. It was the depression and the WPA program was in full force with buildings going up everywhere. Harry would sit and watch the steam shovels digging basements and loading the dirt into a string of Ford and International Trucks. He spent hours drawing the scenes that he saw. His daughters treasure the drawings.

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He bought his first Ford when he was a teenager, a Model T, with a high school friend. He sold that car to his sister and bought a 1933 Ford. Harry enrolled in college majoring in engineering and then went into the service. While in service, he worked in a special division dealing with radar. He left the service and started engineering jobs in various states. He had met an Iowa gal in college and they got married. His bride, Jerry, went with him to several jobs before they settled in Wichita, Kansas and where Harry landed an engineering job at Boeing.

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With a good job, he was able to start buying cars and parts. His wife, Jerry, knew he had a car that he worked on, but when they moved to a house with a shop and some land a string of tow trucks started to bring in car after car and a hoard of parts. His daughters knew they didn’t go in the shop and figured out early on that all that stuff was dad’s special treasures. The 1933 Coupe and Roadster were bought early on. The 1950 Ford Convertible in the auction was driven by one of the daughters to school on occasion.

Harry, being an engineer, had an eye for detail and would carefully catalog and research the correct parts for his restorations. This is why Harry was never shy to give his opinion when it came to Fords. It was well known that he had a stash of cars and was always willing to give information to a fellow Ford man that asked.

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Unfortunately Harry’s wife, Jerry, didn’t share the love affair with the car hobby like her husband. As she sat at the kitchen table all she saw was a yard full of cars. To her, her view was obstructed with old junk. When Harry retired from Boeing, she surprised him with a pickup to help him haul parts and with the hopes that it might help move them out too. As the years passed, he was constantly reminded from Jerry that something had to be done with all the cars and part because she didn’t want to get left with all that stuff. He knew a lot of people and did sell a large bulk of the collection several years back to appease his wife and relieve her future burden. Unfortunately, Jerry passed away before he could finish the task.

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He passed away over a year ago, and his daughters finally ventured into the sheds and saw what their dad’s passion was all about. It was overwhelming. They called VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC to help sell their father’s collection. The auction will be held at the home in Wichita Kansas and many lots including the vehicles, some parts, memorabilia, and literature will be also held online. Several of his vehicles in the collection include a barn-fresh 1932 Ford Tudor and rare 1933 coupe and roadster projects. The 1950 Ford convertible that his daughters occasionally drove to school along with Harry’s treasured Model A roadster pickup will be in the auction. There are also early Ford parts from 1932-1933 that will be only for onsite bidders. The collection also includes toy trains, memorabilia, and a wonderful selection of automotive literature.

Come and celebrate Harry Lee’s life and collection and, “for what it’s worth”, I’m sure you’ll go home with wonderful treasures. Plan now to be at the auction at their home in Wichita, KS and if you can’t, bid online! For more info on this and other auctions. or 605-201-7005 for Yvette VanDerBrink.

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