A Life Lived: Bob Vines had a lifelong fascination with cars

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bob Vines had a love affair with cars for most of his life.

It began when he was a young boy and watched his daddy, Dewey Vines, work on cars. As time went on he learned more and more about cars and what made them run. By the time Bob was a young man, he had taken up the trade of auto mechanic, which became his life’s work.

It was a trade that left him covered in oil and grease every day, and every car was a learning experience. His trade involved a little bit of everything — from getting dirty, to diagnosing what was wrong with the vehicle he was working on, to people skills.

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Vines died Dec. 2 at the age of 79 after spending much of his life under the hood of a car. He grew up in the Valley Forge community, the son of Dewey and Virtie Vines. He was one of eight children.

Bob’s last work was with Dixie Battery. He had worked there 28 years when he retired.

He and his wife, Ann, met when he worked at Sammons Motors, his very first job. Bob drove a wrecker for four years. “It was a hard job. He would get called out all hours of the night, especially when the weather was snowy and cold,” said Ann.

He then worked at Palmer’s Repair Shop and did a short stint of employment at Bemberg before it closed down.

However, his first love was cars and making them run. He didn’t have any formal training as a mechanic. He picked up most of what he knew from working with his dad and on the job training. “When he went to work at Dixie Battery, he did receive training in some areas, such as transmissions,” said Ann.

Vines enjoyed buying older-model cars and fixing them up. One of the first cars he restored was an early Ford Falcon model. “He often referred to it as his retirement car. The irony of it is that when he retired, he sold it,” said Ann.

“Cars intrigued him. He enjoyed working on them. He was very picky about cars he bought and fixed up. They had to run just so-so before he would even think about selling them. He made a little money on them, but not much. His joy came from making them run and restoring them to their former glory,” said Ann.

During the first years of the Elizabethton car show, Vines attended regularly. “At first, he went to see the cars, but as time went on, he enjoyed seeing the people more,” said Ann.

Aside from his work and cars, Bob enjoyed gardening. “He enjoyed growing tomatoes and after retiring, he grew some flowers. He always did the yard work. He liked for things to look good,” shared Ann.

Among his other pastime favorites was watching sports on television from the comfort of his favorite chair. “He never played any sports, but he enjoyed watching them on TV, especially boxing. He also enjoyed football and baseball. He was a big Cowboys fan,” said Ann.

Ann described her husband as a “stay-at home” fellow, who enjoyed time spent with his family. “He especially enjoyed the holidays when the family was together. Christmas and Thanksgiving were his favorite holidays,” she shared.

Bob and Ann were the parents of two sons and a daughter and had four grandchildren.

“He loved his church family, too. His church at Oak Street Baptist was important to him,” said Ann. “He wasn’t a sentimental type of person, but he did enjoy good singing and the hymn, ‘Amazing Grace.’ After he became sick, our daughter-in-law would sing it for him, and often he would sing along with her,” she said.

“Bob was a good man. He enjoyed people, and he was a very giving person. He would give the last dollar he had to help someone,” said Ann.

Bob Vines was not a collector of things, nor did he enjoy traveling or some of the other things that mark people’s lives. He simply loved people and enjoyed a lifelong fascination with cars.

At the end Bob Vines had the satisfaction of knowing that he had helped people through repairing and maintaining their vehicles and thus, had kept the world moving.