Photo: Student in MSC

Nate Eskew

Three Generations Create Labor of Love


Nate Eskew didn’t want to complete his Associate of Applied Science in Collision Repair from Richland Community College working on just any random project. Nate wanted to continue the legacy of his great-grandfather, Dwight, and restore his 1973 Chevrolet truck.

Dwight purchased the truck when he was 87 years old, after it spent time on a farm and suffered a few dents here and there. Nate, his dad, and his great-grandfather started doing auto bodywork on it each weekend at Nate’s house in Moweaqua. Auto bodywork was no stranger to Dwight – he was the owner of Eskew’s Body Shop in Moweaqua and had seen his fair share of dents, rust, and faded paint. Nate recalled some fond memories of his great-grandfather, “I can remember Paw Paw sitting on his white stool whistling, when something wasn’t going right he would whistle louder, but never said a word.”

Nate started his education in automotive repair at Heartland Technical Academy at Richland when he was still in high school. He and his instructor, Kevin Hunt, worked on the mechanical issues with the truck to get it back in operating order. “When I graduated from high school and Heartland, I started Richland Community College and switched to collision repair as my major,” said Nate. He knew he wanted to work on this truck, while pursuing his education in the program, so he asked his instructor, Kent Mears, if they could make it happen. “I asked Mr. Mears if I could bring the truck in and make this my project. The entire collision repair class got to work on it as a project. As students, we started by removing the basic dents, and then we moved on to advanced painting techniques. My instructors, Mr. Mears and Mr. Hunt, were both a huge help and inspiration with this project,” added Nate.

Nate is approaching graduation in May and has been able to do something not many students could say they were able to accomplish – he is completing his degree and his labor of love, while continuing his great-grandfather’s legacy as a “body man.”

“We started to restore that truck at our house in Moweaqua. My great-grandfather would come down on the weekends. I got to work with my great grandfather and my father on it. There have been three generations working on this Chevy truck. That’s really what has inspired me to finish this project. I am hoping to continue his legacy,” Nate said.

When Dwight turned 90 years old and ‘”retired” from helping out, he would still advise Nate on techniques that would help make the truck look nice. Dwight passed away in 2015 at the age of 92, and Nate has honored his memory by completing the restoration of this truck while earning his degree. The finished product will be unveiled at the May 13 Car Show that will take place at Richland at the Workforce Development Institute. The car show is open to the public and proceeds will benefit Danville VA Hospital to help American Legion Post 72 in Macon, Illinois.

“I want to thank my classmates and my instructors at Heartland Technical Academy and Richland Community College who have helped me in reaching my dream. I’m looking forward to my future as a body man just like my great-grandfather, Dwight Eskew,” said Nate.

After completing his degree, Nate is looking forward to working in a local auto body shop.

Hear more Richland success stories here.