STERLING – On Jan. 18, I lost a former co-worker and friend.
Growing up in the shadow of a Ford dealership, whenever there was a problem we could not solve, there was a mention of a man in Sterling that could fix anything.
This man was George “Benny” Fenn.
After closing our family Ford franchise of 54 years, I came to Sterling and was fortunate to work with the man, the myth, the legend, Benny.
Working with him was quite an experience, and yes, this guy absolutely knew and understood everything about what makes a car “tick.”
There was only one catch to working with him: If you went to him for advice with a problem, you would have to prepare yourself for a 15-minute lecture about what you were facing.
If you were trying to find out why a window motor wouldn’t function, look out – here came a talk about what factors affect the properties of electricity. While working on a flat-rate basis, it was hard to watch the clock tick ... but after Benny’s lecture, not only could I fix the problem, but I also used the advice for future problems.
I used to fondly refer to him in the shop as “Dad.” One day I thought it would be a great idea to pack Vaseline under Dad’s toolbox drawer handle.
The next day, I could not start my car.
Do you know what happens when someone hooks a wire from your ignition coil to your ignition switch?
Twelve volts become approximately 10,000 volts, literally at your fingertips. (Sounds like a Benny lecture, doesn’t it?)
After a few years working together, I was in a position in which I had to supervise Benny, and we had to have some “son to father” conversations about how he could make himself and the company more money if he could just LIMIT THE CONVERSATIONS about how everything worked.
We both knew this would never happen, but that was what made him very special.
I will miss him, and I hope I can recall one-half of what he taught me.
Rest in peace, Benny Fenn.
Editor’s note: George “Benny” Fenn was 89 when he died on Jan. 18 at Rock River Hospice and Home. Benny worked for 44 years for Myers Ford, in the 500 block of Locust Street, where Crescent Electric Supply is today. He was a service technician, an expert at wheel alignment and balancing, and at all other aspects of life. Among others, he is survived by his son, Gary Fenn of West Bloomfield, Michigan, and his daughter, Barb Quick of Sterling.
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