Our friend John Ittel lost his battle with cancer. We don’t want to dwell on that sad fact. We would rather talk about all that John has done for us and for the hundreds of people who have been touched by his generosity.
John loved to talk about Jeeps, but not about himself. So we were happy when he agreed to share his story with us. You can read it here and we hope you will do so. John also loved to introduce people to all the things that Jeeps could do. Thousands of people have seen the working Jeeps demonstration held on John’s family farm, as part of the Willys Jeep Rally each spring. Barry wrote an article for the Farm Collector magazine about the demonstration. John didn’t really think he needed to have his name appear so many times. He wanted to make sure that his friends from the Willys Jeep Rally got equal billing. We knew how his friends at the Rally felt – they were thrilled to see him get the credit he deserved. The article is here.
The first time we met John in person was at a Spring Willys Reunion near Cleveland. We were admiring the Newgren “Farm Tested” decals on his lift. We asked John where we might find them and he said “I’m not sure. I had those made and I have some spares. Give me your address and I’ll send them to you.” He wouldn’t accept any form of payment, “Except maybe an ice cream sundae at some future date.” That ice cream sundae never happened and we suspect that we owed him at least a dozen.
A few years later John, another visitor at the demo, and we were discussing some Jeep part the visitor was missing. John said “I think I have a spare in the machine shed. Let me see if I can find it.” and headed off on his golf cart. He returned a few minutes later, dejected because he couldn’t find the part. The visitor, said he understood and would keep looking. John said “I just can’t find it now, I’m sure it is there. Give me your address and I’ll send it to you.” We are sure he did. We have heard dozens of testimonials over the years of similar acts. John was always generous with his time and was a gentleman in very sense of the word.
Barry was lucky enough to get to visit with John in late August. While it was necessarily a short visit, and they were following strict pandemic guidelines, Barry managed to get a tour of the farm and to visit some of John’s favorite spots in Hueston Woods. Before he left John said he wanted our help researching a brochure covering a late 1940s Jeep event that happened in southern Ohio. John and Barry talked about doing an article and that when John’s treatments and the pandemic were over, they would do a research road trip.
We plan on doing that research road trip when we get through this pandemic. John won’t be at our side, but he will be in our hearts.
Barry & Evan