Kaileigh Seckendorf was heartbroken when she had to get rid of her late father’s truck.
“Having to give it up kind of felt like I was losing the last piece of him,” she said.
Kaileigh’s father, Warren “Smokey” Seckendorf, had been captain of the Salem Fire Department, and his fire-engine red Ford-F350 was his most valued possession.
“This truck was very special to him and it’s something that bonded the two of us together.”
When Smokey committed suicide in 2016, he left the truck to Kaileigh, but the young woman had troubles storing it. For the first winter, it sat in her sister’s driveway. But later, when the snow melted, she realized mice had burrowed into the seats, leaving a rancid smell and chewed wires.
Kaileigh didn’t think she would ever be able to afford the repairs. In the end, she had to get rid of it.
“I had to make a hard decision,” she said. “I wasn’t even sure how many thousands of dollars it would be to fix it up.
As the years went on, Kaileigh eventually stopped thinking about the truck. But then, a friend told her he had spotted it in a Little Raymond, New Hampshire, junkyard.
“My dad’s good friend called me to say he could have sworn he saw my dad’s truck,” she said.
Turns out Kaileigh had given the truck to a family friend who ultimately junked it. Later, junkyard owner Duke Drownes came across the truck in a scrap pile and quickly scooped it up.
“It was good to its bones,” he said. “The owner had tried to take good care of it; that’s why I wanted to fix it instead of sell it for parts.”
Duke had spent thousands of dollars renovating the truck, hoping to make a good profit. “We worked our magic on that truck,” he recalled. “Every major thing was wrong with it.”
Sure enough, as soon as Kaileigh got there, she spotted her dad’s Ford-F350 sitting in the lot.
“It was surreal. I instantly got chills, started crying, ran up to the truck, hugged it.”
“I never thought in a million years I would ever see this truck again.”
When Kaileigh approached Duke with her story, all thoughts about making a profit immediately left his mind. “I’ve sold a lot of cars in my 40-plus year career,” he said, “but this one is unique. You could tell that this girl needed this car.”
“I pretty much gave it to her,” he revealed.
Smokey’s old truck still needs a bit of work, but Kaileigh isn’t too concerned.
Her father had been a selfless man, and she believes his good gestures are now being returned to his children through the kindness of people like Duke.
When Kaileigh put the key into the ignition, “It started right up,” she told The Eagle-Tribune. “Just like the last time my dad was sitting here.”
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