AUGUSTA (AP) – A man who lived to tinker with farm tractors was buried Tuesday with his favorite tractor parked next to the grave following a funeral procession that included 18 antique tractors.

In an unusual ceremony that drew plenty of stares from onlookers, Harold Peabody’s casket was carried up Winthrop Street aboard a hay wagon towed behind his 1940 Allis-Chalmers RC tractor. His son, Alden Peabody, was behind the wheel.

“My father said he didn’t want to go to the grave in a hearse,” the son said.

Peabody loved tractors and was a founding member and the first president of the Maine Antique Tractor Club. He died unexpectedly on Sunday at the age of 82.

His make of choice was Allis-Chalmers tractors, the brand he grew up with on his family’s dairy farm in Augusta, his son said. Two weeks ago, the father and son had attended an Allis-Chalmers show in upstate New York.

Allis-Chalmers tractors were always around to assist with haying and barn chores. A hardworking man, Harold Peabody delivered milk door-to-door in Augusta into the late 1950s. He had also owned a construction business and sold vegetables.

He owned and operated Peabody’s Repair on Riverside Drive since 1971. Although he favored Allis-Chalmers tractors, he fixed and restored other brands as well.

For the service, Peabody’s casket, inscribed with the Allis-Chalmers name, was loaded on the hay wagon at Knowlton & Hewins Funeral Home. The lead tractor was followed by 17 others – including a 1928 McCormick-Deering and a 1952 Farmhall Super Seed – in a convoy that moved along at 5 mph for the milelong trip to the cemetery.

Glenn DeWitt, 64, current president of the 10-year-old tractor club, came from his home in Dresden and rode in his big 1950 John Deere Model R in the procession. He knew Peabody well.

“He was crazy about tractors, especially Allis-Chalmers. His favorite was the RC,” DeWitt said.

David Uhouse, the funeral home’s director, said he’d seen motorcycle escorts and horse-drawn hearses, but never a tractor convoy for a funeral.

Alden Peabody said his father would have been surprised at the turnout of tractors – a fitting tribute for a man who loved the machines.

“I know he’d think it would never be this way,” he said.


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