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My Dad’s Dream

My awesome stepdad had vision…a LOT of vision. He was an award-winning architect, entrepreneur and auto restoration fanatic.

His last vision was of the transformation of his old Jeep Willys from rust bucket dune Jeep to parade-worthy historic military Jeep.

Back in the 70s, Dad built a dune Jeep out of an Army-surplus Willys body he put on an old CJ3 chassis and painted yellow. He’d bounce us all over the dune buggy trails along Lake Michigan. It was his Jeep, and the memories made in it, that ignited my own life-long love of the brand.

Last summer, my cousin Kevin gifted me Dad’s Jeep and we surprised Dad with it at our annual family reunion. Here’s that moment condensed on a :57 video.

After buying a new Jeep Wrangler as my business vehicle, I sold my 2012 Jeep Wrangler to fund the vision Dad had for his old Jeep as a nod to its military roots.

He dove deep into making his vision come to life, researching the history surrounding the Jeep Willys story. He got incredibly detailed with the restoration plan down to coming up with a shopping list complete with part numbers. He’d often be found in our garage taking photos and videos to share with new Jeep Willys friends he’d made online to get their advice.

In January, we were all shocked by Dad’s cancer diagnosis, and I immediately called Bob Roper of Roper Collision & Repair. He is the son of Dad’s best friend (who passed away five years ago) and the one Dad wanted to help with the restoration.

During Dad’s hospital stays, I’d proudly show him videos of the progress including my sanding job of the tailgate, and I’d leave with suggestions and questions to bring back to Bob and his team.

We lost Dad a month later.

Thanks to Bob, his son Hutch and their team of experts, Dad’s dream became a reality. My husband and I towed it up to Michigan behind my Husband’s Jeep this summer to our family reunion so my cousin Kevin could drive Dad’s ashes to the family cemetery in Hartland for his burial.

We are heartbroken Dad never got to see his vision made into reality, but we look forward to sharing his dream Jeep and making more family memories in it for generations to come.

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