Friends and family of a northern Illinois farmer gave him a unique send-off by driving more than 50 tractors during his funeral procession Tuesday.
Tom King, 66, died last week when he was struck by a motorcycle outside of his McHenry home. Farmers traveled from Wisconsin and other cities in northern Illinois to pay their respects to King, The Northwest Herald reported.
His friend and neighbor for more than 45 years, Glen Stade, thought the convoy was a fitting way to say goodbye.
“We’ve been on so many rides with Tom around the country,” he said. “This is the last one.”
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As they drove from Colonial Funeral Home to St. Mary’s Church in McHenry, many of the tractors displayed signs reading, “In tribute to a fallen farmer. Tom King. Farmers Feed the world.”
A few of the signs also said, “Zowie, boys,” a phrase King often would exclaim, according to friends.
“You had English, Spanish and Tommy’s language,” Stade said.
Another friend and fellow farmer, Mike Justen, led the procession of tractors behind the hearse and some cars.
He drove King’s red tractor, decorated with cutouts of pigs and cows.
The pair grew up farming side by side, Justen said, and there were some years he couldn’t have farmed without King.
“I was farming years ago, and I got crushed by a bull,” he said. “Tom came and filled my silos with some of the other neighbors.”
Others who came to remember King also said his generosity is what stood out the most. King donated a pig to the Boy Scouts for a raffle each year, according to Arnie Diedrich.
“If you called him up he would drop everything,” he said. “He was a great guy.
“I’ll miss him just being himself.”