Society

Labor of love completed

Family finishes late mechanic’s 1940 Ford Tudor that spanned generations
By KEN ESTEN COOKE Reporter Publisher
“He wasn’t as mean as he looked,” laughed Linda Yakesch about her late husband Lee, whose bushy eyebrows, slicked back hair and sometimes gruff demeanor may have frightened away some potential customers.

Linda Yakesch stands proudly by fully restored 1940 Ford, an object of affection for she and late husband Lee. Reporter/Ken Esten Cooke Linda Yakesch stands proudly by fully restored 1940 Ford, an object of affection for she and late husband Lee. Reporter/Ken Esten Cooke Linda and friends from Hairston Body Shop and East End Trim Shop recently completed a labor of love for the family — the 1940 Ford Tudor that Lee was intent on restoring (for the second time) before his sudden death of a brain aneurism on Oct. 17, 2008.

Lee and Linda, the sweethearts that courted in the car, and kept while they raised their family, until they eyed retirement. Their initials stood for the name of his L&L Motors, a garage every old-school mechanic would love, that Lee ran for decades.

Acquisition

Lee was unusually intelligent, graduating third in his class, but didn’t have much use for the academic pointy heads at the University of Texas, where he went to study drafting.

Portrait of Lee Yakesch taken in 2007. Wife Linda says “he wasn’t as mean as he looked.” Photo by Bruce Jordan Portrait of Lee Yakesch taken in 2007. Wife Linda says “he wasn’t as mean as he looked.” Photo by Bruce Jordan Lee, whose father was a mechanic, began dating Linda, whose father was also a mechanic and owned a local shop.

“He fell in love,” said Linda and fell out of U.T. “He made a good career move because he married the boss’s daughter.”

Lee bought the Ford from his Uncle Antone and the family still has the title and the original loan note he took out on Dec. 17, 1948 for $336. With help from Uncle Antone, he painstakingly restored the car the first time, painting it a rich Navy blue.

The Ford was used for everything: teaching his girlfriend Linda how to drive, the couple’s honeymoon, and driving his wife to the hospital to deliver their three sons, Russell, Doug and Gary Lynn. They took it for a special spin on their 25th anniversary.

Young Lee Yakesch (right) and his uncle Antone work on refinishing the car in 1961. Young Lee Yakesch (right) and his uncle Antone work on refinishing the car in 1961. Second coming

The car was parked in a stall at L&L Motors in 1992 to begin the second full restoration.

“Being a mechanic, he worked on the most important things first,” Linda said. “The engine, the transmission, the mechanical things. The pretty parts, paint and upholstery, would come later.”

Lee disassembled it and worked on it for years, fabricating pieces including a clock into the dash, custom wheel covers that have to be unscrewed from the underside, and a unique “wrench tree” that holds the spare in the trunk.

During the restoration, mechanic Neal Ferrell and son Neal rigged up a Coke bottle radiator overflow container. Linda said Lee would have loved it.

Family photo shows young Linda, the ‘40 Ford and a patch of Bluebonnets. Family photo shows young Linda, the ‘40 Ford and a patch of Bluebonnets. Retirement trip

Linda was due to retire from Alcoa in February 2009 and the couple’s plan was to take the ‘40 on a trip to Michigan, where oldest son Russell lives. For that trip, Lee made modifications to the Ford so he could install an air conditioner, cup holders and an AM-FM radio with cassette player.

But those plans were derailed when Lee died suddenly.

After his death, his wife and sons took to finding the remaining parts of the Ford that were stored in everything from coffee cans to the back of a Ford van. The car was then taken for the complete restoration.

The Ford will now go to Georgetown, where their son Doug lives.

“I hope they’ll use it to create many more good memories,” Linda said.

Lee Yakesch with first grandchild Rebecca and Navy blue Tudor in late ‘80s. Lee Yakesch with first grandchild Rebecca and Navy blue Tudor in late ‘80s. Does she feel cheated for missing out on the trip?

“No, not at all,” she said emphatically. “We saw our kids grow up, get educated, get married and saw our grandchildren born. We used to talk and we always felt like we had a real good life.”
Above, an homage to Lee’s “custom fix it” ways, mechanics Neal Ferrell Jr. and Neal Ferrell III used a Coke bottle for radiator overflow. Above, an homage to Lee’s “custom fix it” ways, mechanics Neal Ferrell Jr. and Neal Ferrell III used a Coke bottle for radiator overflow.
1940 Ford before second round of refinishing work. 1940 Ford before second round of refinishing work.


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