Less than a year ago Checker fans were all alarmed by the report on November 11th 2016 that a 67-year-old man died in a single-car crash near Northgate Mall in Seattle.
According to the Seattle Times “The car apparently struck a tree around 9:30 a.m. at Northeast Northgate Way and Third Avenue Northeast, killing the driver. Police said, the circumstances that led to the crash remain unclear.”
Members of the ICTA heard from the driver’s daughter of Richard Petkovitis the driver who died in the crashed. About her father Kaela Petkovitis shared:
“My father ran a cab business in Seattle Washington for many years under the names “Classic Cab” and “Queen City Cab”. This was the last remaining Checker from his fleet and he used it as a daily driver for 30 years. I grew up in this car.”
Over the next several months, the club would to get to know Kaela as a kind and generous Checker fan. Kaela shared her found memories growing up around Checkers. She shared photographs from her father’s thriving Checker company, back in the 80’s, when many taxicab companies were migrating away from Checker cab fleets, Richard Petkovitis was building his business using brand new Checkers.
In tribute to her father Kaela kindly donated many Checker parts from her father’s inventory to ICTA members. Coordinated by member William Crawford, parts were distributed to ICTA members on an as needed basis. The cost, shipping, thats right, parts were given to our members for free!
Well now it’s our turn to give back to Kaela. This past June 5, Kimberly Hastings posted an advertisement for a Checker on the ICTA Facebook page “The Checker Taxi Stand” the ad read with a picture “Straight as an arrow 82 champion $2000 waiting for the right owner. not to be parted out. all money will go into another restoration. pm me for details”. That single posted generated a lot of Facebook comments. One was from Kaela Petkovitis, Kaela posted “Checker #1 of the Queen City cab/classic cab fleet in Seattle, WA. This car was in a movie, I just can’t remember which one”. Not only was this Checker part of the original Classic Cab fleet, it was actually Checker number 1 pictured in the header of this blog with Richard Petkovitis!
That post not only garnered a lot of additional posts, it generated a lot of ideas. Seattle ICTA member William Crawford, checked out that car and felt it was worth saving. Over a couple of days, Bill reached out to several Seattle area museums to see if there was any interest in restoring, but no interest was found.
All was not lost, Bill teamed up with ICTA Advisory Board member Daniel Smith and the two hatched a plan. The plan, buy the Checker and restore it back to its original Classic Taxi roots. The plan was greater than merely a restoration, the plan was bigger than that.
Kaela has posted many times about her dream to buy a Checker and restore, that said the challenges of work, children and finances would prove difficult for any family today to achieve such a dream. Daniel Smith and William Crawford have hatched a plan to restore the Classic Checker 1 and gift it to Kaela. Give back to the giver and save another Checker. Over the last few weeks the two gentlemen have completed the first phase of the project, they secured the Checker.
The members of the ICTA are a giving group, thirty of our members recently helped restore the website post litigation. Now many of those same members have contributed to the fund to secure the Checker in Seattle. Additionally Dan has been able to work with some corporate sponsors O’Reily Auto Parts and Checker Motor Cars in Haverhill, Mass. To date Daniel has secure the car and funds to move the Checker from Seattle to Phoenix. Now all Dan has to do is to get and restore the Checker!
Daniel is a dedicated Checker nut and is in the process of restoring a Chicago Checker. Moving forward Dan will be working on starting the restoration, no problem now he has two Checkers to restore! As would be expected Dan will be looking for more contributions of money or parts. We’ll follow his progress as soon as the Checker is delivered to Phoenix.
This should not be a problem, ICTA members are truly giving. Our mission is to keep Checkers running and to help others. We have never asked for dues and we have no expectation that we ever will in the future. We operate on the giving nature of Checkers fans and owners. We hope that we can facilitate more projects like the Seattle Classic Cab project in the future.
Our most recent update from Dan on Facebook
Everyone i gotta tell you we are the best checker group ever. In ten days we raised funds to buy and transport a members dad’s old car, so i can go nuts on it and give it back to her. I’m Definitely going to need help with the restoration. Insert plea for help and parts here. The best part is my own parents just found out what I’m up to with everyone’s help and they even want to donate to the cause.
If you would like to connect with Dan to participate in the project, here’s a link to Dan on Facebook.
You can also follow the progress here on the ICTA blog.
For more information regarding the ICTA Facebook page check out this link, answer a couple a simple questions and you can become a member of the largest Checker club in the world.
Header photo courtesy of Kaela Petkovitis