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  • Last modified 25 days ago (April 26, 2018)

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Flashy hot rod is gift from wife

Staff writer

It has taken Bob Wall of Hillsboro almost a lifetime to find the car he has dreamed about owning. He and his wife, Joyce, found it online, and Joyce bought it for him as an anniversary gift, but getting it home proved to be a surprising adventure.

The vehicle, an antique Ford-based hot rod, was at a dealership in Jackson, Mississippi, and was purported to be in good running condition with good tires. The couple traveled by train from Newton to Jackson in August, picked up the car, and started for home.

“It looked better than it functioned,” Bob said. “Forty-four miles down the road, a tire blew, and we glided to the side at an off-ramp.”

As they got out and walked around the car, they noticed the taillight covers were melting and the entire back end of the car was hot. Bob doused the car with water he had brought along. Then he used a pocketknife to break through the taillight covers and break the bulbs.

“They were the kind that can get really hot,” he said.

“The blown tire was a blessing in disguise,” Joyce said. “The Lord protected us, because the gas tank was close to the taillights, and the car could have exploded.”

They called the dealer, and he sent a wrecker to take the car and them back to Jackson.

It turned into a one-day anniversary celebration.

“It was our 49th anniversary,” Joyce said. “They put us up in a lovely hotel, and we spent 24 hours walking around the area. It was a lovely adventure.”

They rode back home by train, and the dealer fixed the car, putting new tires on it and installing a new air-conditioning unit. After the car was delivered, extensive repairs were required to make it a reliable vehicle.

A retired banker and now a farmer, Bob has been interested in hot rods ever since high school. The car is a bright red, five-window Ford coupe with a 1934 Ford frame and a fiberglass body. The front end had been replaced with a Mustang II that included rack and pinion steering, disc brakes, and power steering. Bob liked it because parts were readily available and it was a good size for the frame.

“Bob has cared for me for 50 years, and I wanted to buy him something,” Joyce said. “I owed him something.”

The Walls don’t intend to show the vehicle. They intend to drive it. They drove it in a parade at Buhler when Joyce celebrated her high school class 50th anniversary last fall.

They will be married 50 years in August and plan to retrace their honeymoon trip to Lake of the Ozarks, including a visit to Bridal Cave, a boat ride, and a pancake breakfast.

The couple feels blessed to continue having a life together. Ten years ago, at age 62, Bob was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

A botched operation led to his forced retirement from banking after 38 years. He underwent extensive radiation and chemotherapy to get rid of cancer that was missed. Along with other complications, the treatments greatly affected his health.

He has undergone numerous hospital stays and surgeries, eight in 2010 alone. His last surgery was a year ago.

“My surgeon said he didn’t want to see me again,” Bob said.

He was blessed with a wife who is a nurse by profession and has devoted her life to caring for him.

“I’ve been his advocate,” she said. “I’ve never left his side.”

The couple had been operating a bank in Conway Springs for 20 years when Bob was diagnosed. They moved to a new country home north of Hillsboro in 2009.

Bob can’t lift heavy things, and Joyce can’t either because of a bad back, so they help each other carry things.

Despite his physical problems, Bob farms 400 acres of land. His doctor told him how to get up and down a tractor without hurting himself.

He is cancer free.

They have two children and six grandchildren.

“We are incredibly thankful to God for life, a life I didn’t think we would have,” Joyce said.

Last modified April 26, 2018

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