Finding an old family heirloom

John Burke of North Platte poses with the tow truck his grandfather Winfred “Bud” Easton built in 1961.

John Burke remembers the first tow he went on when he was 6 years old with his Grandpa Winfred “Bud” Easton.

Easton had built the tow truck himself in 1961 from a farm truck.

“He wanted a wrecker, so he built one,” Burke said. “He used it in the village of Curtis for a long time. He was a body man.”

Burke said his grandpa built custom rods, and the tow truck frame was made from an old oil rig and hand welded.

“He got sick and sold the wrecker,” Burke said. “As a young man — I was probably 20, 21 — I found it.”

The truck was in Gothenburg at an auto dealership.

“I bought and brought it home to treasure always,” Burke said.

Along the way, Burke said, he lost ownership of the truck, but after years passed he found it a second time.

“I’ve had it ever since, and in 1980 I completely restored it,” Burke said. “My mom — Grandpa Easton’s daughter Gloria Burke — and my Aunt Eileen Merrihew are both in Linden Court now.”

With great emotion, Burke said the truck is a family heirloom and he hopes to keep it in the family.

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