COSGROVE— The parking lot across from the school and St. Peter Catholic Church, in Cosgrove, was awash in a sea of what farmers and enthusiasts call “old iron” Sunday, Sept. 5, as vintage tractors congregated. Among the red, green, orange, and off-white machines were farmers coming together to remember a good man.
Tim Burns was born on Feb. 6, 1962, to Kenneth and Joan Skow Burns, was a 1981 graduate of the Clear Creek High School and married Kathy Colbert in 1988. He worked for the City of Iowa City, owned a lawn care and snow removal service, and worked the family farm where he was “the equipment man.”
Tim died on Dec. 1, 2018, but left behind a lifetime of memories. Many of those memories were shared as the farmers stood among the tractors ahead of a mini-tractorcade in Tim’s honor.
“It’s a smaller community. Everybody knows everybody, everybody cares about everybody,” said brother Jim. “Tim knew a boatload of people and it’s really cool to see they’re all coming for him.”
Jim drove the family’s 1953 Farmall (International Harvester) Super M in the tractorcade.
“It was Dad’s first tractor and it’s been in the family forever,” Jim said. “We decided to see if we could fix it up and Guy Goldsmith (brother-in-law) — who’s a hell of a craftsman — did all the work to restore it. He’s got it running very well.” The shiny red tractor also looks like it just rolled off the assembly line.
“I was shocked at just how good it looks,” Jim said, “It’s just really impressive. He did a phenomenal job.”
Tim, he said, was especially fond of the tractor.
“In a farm family, everybody’s got a role, and Tim was our equipment man. He ran the equipment, and he loved that M. The M has seen a lot of action through the years on the farm, so it’s a real workhorse, and he loved that thing. He took really good care of it. So, as it got older, it starts to show its wear, so eventually it found its way to the back of the shed. But after all this happened, we decided to get it out and try to make it happen. Props to Guy for making that work.”
Several dozen tractors rolled out and headed north on Cosgrove Road SW to IWV Road where they turned east to Ivy Avenue for a short while before heading back west on 340th Street, on their way toward the south edge of Oxford. From there the tractorcade journeyed south on Black Hawk Avenue to Black Diamond Road and ran through Windham before returning to Cosgrove.
Event organizer, classmate and lifelong friend of Tim, Pat Mougin explained how the ride came to be.
“We talked about it (a memorial ride) briefly soon after we lost Tim, but due to the COVID we couldn’t immediately do anything, so we just kind of let it go, and we thought things had kind of lightened up a bit, so this seemed to be the time. His passion was to ride tractors, run equipment, that’s what he grew up doing. That’s what he did best. Tim was very passionate about his implements and his tools,” Pat said.
Tim’s wife Kathy played a major role in mapping out the approximately 30-mile route, which followed “…the roads we ran around on our whole lives as kids and growing up, going to school, going from town-to-town; so that’s the meaning,” Jim said.
The response to the ride was “Overwhelming,” said Jim, “more than I expected.” But he added, “A community like this is strong, and they circle around people like Tim. Tim had a good circle, he was just a phenomenal human being, and we miss him like crazy.”
Tim’s sister Jeanne Goldsmith said, “I read a thing about the chain, and it said now that he’s gone, it’s broken, and it’ll never be the same. And that’s so true. He was definitely the entertainment of both our family and the in-law’s. He was just the life of the party and didn’t try to be. A very good man, a very humble man, honest-to-God he never cared what anybody thought but never had a mean bone in his body, just absolutely loved life and he lived it to the end.”
“This is a good tribute to Tim; you can tell he touched a lot of people here,” said Pat.