Photo by Justin L. Fowler of The (Springfield) State Journal-Register
What took a 65-year-old Staunton, Missouri man a lifetime to collect was destroyed overnight Thursday in a fire that gutted his two garages containing three Corvettes and related memorabilia.
“This was my whole life,” an emotional John Hibbeler told stltoday.com reporter Kim Bell. “It took me 45 years to get to this position, and I lost it all in one night.”
He lost it all thanks to a small brush fire that got out of control, fire officials said.
Hibbeler, a lifelong bachelor who recently retired as manager of an auto parts department in Collinsville, was awakened at 11 p.m. Thursday by someone warning him of the approaching flames.
Housed in the destroyed buildings were his collection of restored Corvettes, a Sportster Harley-Davidson motorcycle, three wave runners, other vehicles and trailers, car magazines dating to 1959, and every license tag he has had since he began to drive.
Among the most sentimental of the losses was his 1966 Corvette, which he bought in 1968 and restored about eight years ago.
Hibbeler does have insurance, but it can’t come close to replacing the intangibles he lost.
“I’ve lost everything I’ve been proud of,” he said. “There’s nothing anybody can do.”
He said he first caught the Corvette bug when he was in the fifth grade and saw a 1954 model.
“I said, ‘One of these days, I’m going to have one.’”
ST. Louis Today