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RIP to the Ford Barn's Gary Nehring

RIP to the Ford Barn's Gary Nehring

Gary Nehring--one of north central Wisconsin’s most passionate long-time hot rodders--passed away on Nov. 4, 2021. Gary, who last lived in Appleton, died suddenly from a suspected heart attack. Gary was born March 2, 1939, in Clintonville, Wis. to Herman and Mayme (Zaug) Nehring. After Herman’s untimely death in 1947, Mayme married Max Schrader in 1950 and the Nehring family members moved to Milwaukee.
Gary graduated from Milwaukee Boy’s Tech, where he studied auto mechanics, in 1957. He went to work for the Harnischfeger mining company. In 1960, Gary moved to Appleton and worked for his Uncle Roger at  Zaug’s Vending.  He became an Airman in the Wisconsin Air National Guard working on fighter jets in Milwaukee and was called for extended duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1964, Gary started a 22-year career as a “Tin Knocker” in the Sheet Metal trade. He worked as an apprentice, journeyman and foreman for many shops including August Winter, AZCO, Hietpas, Bassett, Feldman and others. He took pride in pointing out metal buildings he had worked on, especially the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Gary’s love of cars (especially Fords) started at age 14 when he purchased a non-running 1938 Ford for $20. He eventually bought, sold and owned over 70 cars and kept detailed records and photos of them.  He built his hobby into a part-time business, visiting small Ford dealers all over Wisconsin to buy New Old Stock parts stored in dusty attics, basements and storerooms. He resold some parts at swap meets and car shows.
In 1986, Gary left the sheet metal trade and started The Ford Barn. This brought him to his goal of representing various reproduction parts manufacturers in his own classic Ford car parts business. He had a retail shop behind his house and vended at various car shows around the Midwest.
Gary had also attended every Iola Car Show and for nearly 20 years he chaired the St. Bernard’s Car Show as part of the annual parish festival. He was involved in many car clubs over the years, including the Old Time Auto Club, the Early V8 Club of America, the Fox Valley Street Rod Assoc., the Central County Flyers, the Minnesota Street Rod Assoc. and the National Street Rod Assoc. (NSRA). Gary had several of his cars featured in magazines, posters and calendars including his chopped and flamed ‘40 Ford “Flathead” Coupe  built in the late 1970s.
  After selling The Ford Barn and retiring in 2006, Gary started breakfast meetings with his classic-car friends. He created an Internet-based informal hobby group called the “Coffee Clutchers,” although he resisted computers. Starting with two or three guys and a garage visit, the group has grown to nearly 100 members. Gary loved the camaraderie and the fact that he could support local car businesses. He did his best to organize and promote these with his infamous handwritten fliers that a friend posted online.
Gary loved spending time with his family and especially his grandchildren. He rooted for them at sporting events. Gary became famous among his fellow hot rodders for his never-ending lists, “Gary-isms” and index cards and post-it note. He was never at a loss for words of motivation or a good, if not a well-worn joke.