Repo man takes elderly couple's troubles away

  • 25/11/2016

It may be the best Thanksgiving story of 2016: a repo man in the United States, who instead of doing his job and confiscating an elderly couple's car, raised funds so they could keep it and get it repaired.

Jim Ford said he felt terrible when he got the call to repossess a 1998 Buick in the small town of Red Bud, Illinois, and found out it belonged to an elderly couple.

Owners Stanford and Patty Kipping were behind on their payments after trying to cover rising medical costs. Stanford, and 82-year-old Navy veteran and former dock worker, has Alzheimer's disease, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. His wife Patty, 69, has diabetes.

Mr Ford, who's been a repo man for 20 years, could have easily taken the car in the middle of the night - but he might be getting soft in his old age, he said.

"I knew they were elderly, and there wasn't a light on," he told the St Louis Post-Dispatch. "I didn't want to disturb them."

He visited the couple later on November 17 and suggested they work something out with their bank, but they had no luck.

"I got to talk to them, and they were the nicest people. They knew I had a job to do," Mr Ford said.

"It was very, very sad," Ms Kipping said. "Stan and I cried. We were very emotional because we need our car."

So Mr Ford took the vehicle, but about one block down the road he stopped and called the bank, offering to settle the payment himself.

The bank said a bureaucratic process was required, so Mr Ford sought help elsewhere. A colleague suggested an online fundraiser, and it turned out more successful than he imagined.

Only a day after setting up a page on Gofundme, the Kipping's US$2,200 debt was covered with $1000 to spare. Friends and other local business owners all chipped.

"By the time I woke up, the car was paid off," Mr Ford said.

Without the Kippings' knowledge, Mr Ford used the money to get the car back and get it serviced with minor repairs.

By the following Monday, Mr Ford returned to the Kippings with the debt-free car, the leftover fundraised cash, and a donated Thanksgiving turkey. Neighbours gathered around to cheer for the repo man.

"It was a miracle come true. We didn't know what we were going to do," Ms Kipping told the Belleville News-Democrat.

"I was at my lowest end when he came and got that car. I thought, 'This is it for me,' I was that depressed," she said. "I prayed to God, and God answered our prayer."

Money has continued to flow in for the elderly couple, and Mr Ford has admitted to being overwhelmed by all the attention for his good deed.

After years on the job, Mr Ford could be more cynical, "but you get more done with kindness".