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Family looks for 1953 Chevy Bel Air owner to give dying veteran a final ride

Posted at 5:35 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 18:34:29-04

MUNROE FALLS, Ohio — A Munroe Falls family is trying to find an owner of a 1953 Chevy Bel Air willing to give a dying veteran a final ride in the car he adores.

Charles "Chick" Williams, 74, has cancer and a vascular circulatory diseases. His left leg was amputated earlier this year. Doctors have told Chick that he may only have a few weeks to live.

His wife, Gale, posted a touching message on Facebook hoping someone in the classic car community can help fulfill a last wish.

"My husband is a veteran of the U.S Army. In the last six months, he has had seven surgeries. He is now home with hospice care and given a short time to live," she wrote. "I'm possibly looking to rent a 1953 Chevy Bel Air for the day or a few hours to take him for a ride. This is his dream car and the first car he ever owned."

When he was a teenager, Chick was given a two-tone green '53 Chevy Bel Air by his father. He fell in love with it and cherishes the memories.

"The back of the trunk had a big dent in it because me and my brother-in-law did a little racing," he said with a laugh. "And on the dash, it had 'Sweet Nothin' Sue' because that's the name of the girl I was dating."

Chick proudly served our country in the U.S. Army and did a tour of duty in Germany.

"I spent 29 months in Germany. I loved that duty. That was good duty," he said.

However, Chick suffered serious injuries in a car crash in Germany and was honorably discharged from the service.

After his military time, he married Gale. They've been together 53 years and have four kids and 19 grandchildren.

In recent years, the veteran yearned for something from his past-- getting another Bel Air.

His son, Vic Williams, helped locate a red one in Canton and Chick purchased it for $5,500.

On Monday, Chick ventured out in wheelchair to the backyard-- where the car sits along the house — looked at the News 5 crew and said, "Beautiful car, isn't it?" It's my baby."

However, the car, in the process of being restored, can't be driven. Vic has put a lot of work into it, including pulling out the transmission, fenders and doors and getting the frame sandblasted and painted.

Vic estimates it would cost $25,000 to clean up the interior, put in brakes and brake lines, and make other repairs in order to get the Bel Air looking the way his dad wants it. Even with help from others, Vic said it would take a week or two to finish the restoration. It's money and time the family doesn't have.

"They don't give him much time," Vic said through tears. "We want him to be happy before he passes."

Gale has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of kind words and support since her Facebook post went up on Sunday, but so far no one has come forward with a '53 Bel Air to give Chick his final ride.

"It would mean the world to me to know that he at least got a ride in a '53," she said.

Chick said he's touched by his wife's efforts. He still wants his red Bel Air restored, but looks forward the opportunity of getting into another one and hitting the open road.

"Oh, I'd like to go for a ride in a '53," he said. "I'd love to get in it and go and drive and look out the windshield."