LEE AND KATIE Baird took their dealership out for a 48-year spin. The road could be bumpy — particularly early on during their journey — but the ride was smooth for a community that has benefitted in many ways by what the Bairds had created in 1971. 								    Tim Lyke photo
LEE AND KATIE Baird took their dealership out for a 48-year spin. The road could be bumpy — particularly early on during their journey — but the ride was smooth for a community that has benefitted in many ways by what the Bairds had created in 1971. Tim Lyke photo

     When he was born 71 years ago next month, Lee Baird’s sticker price was $41.83.

     That’s how much Lester and Adeline Baird owed Ripon Municipal Hospital for the infant’s room, board and care.

     From those humble beginnings, the boy grew up on a farm southwest of Ripon, dreaming of one day selling farm implements.

     As he aged, other career paths beckoned. At 18, Lee washed and waxed cars at Bruendl Pontiac Buick located at N7772 County Road E (then called “Fairwater Road”), where Ripon Window & Door is today. He’d also sit inside the dealership, putting pencil to ledger as he balanced the books.  

     Sales? Cars? Numbers? All three would be his professional destiny.  ...  

     Belying the stereotypical slick, fast-talking car salesman shyster, Lee has been soft spoken, earnest, funny and generous. He knows cars and he understands his business, but most of all he respects and appreciates the people who kicked the tires on his lot and in his showroom.

     Last week, Lee and Katie sold their mom-and-pop business to another family, the Homans. ...

     So now the Ripon dealership has a new owner. Never mind that the name in front has switched from “Baird” to “Homan.” It will remain an independent, family-owned business — just like the one that has been an integral part of this community for generations.         — Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the Sept. 5, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.