Leroy Kier spent most of his life driving a truck, so his kids figured a ride on one was the only appropriate way to take him to his final resting place.
Following his funeral last Friday, Leroy took a ride in his casket atop the back of a semi, with his last name spelled in big letters on the back of the rig’s cab behind him, from the Turner & Son Funeral Home in Hillsboro to his burial site at the Coss Cemetery near Belfast.
“I just thought it was the greatest thing. It touched my heart and I know Dad was feeling like he was a king,” one of his six children, Cristal (Kier) Edison, said. “He didn’t want us to make much fuss, but…”
“It was a perfect way for him to go out,” added another daughter, Tara Kier. “Trucking was his life and he loved it.”
She said her father did most of his trucking back and forth to Brownsville, Texas.
Originally from May Hill in Adams County, Leroy graduated from Belfast High School in 1958. In the mid 1960s he went into the trucking business with his father, Chester Kier, operating Kier Trucking out of Belfast.
Chester ran a filling station and auto repair garage in the same building his wife, Oacle Kier, operated the OK Grocery. The trucking business moved to Hillsboro in the early 1970s, but Chester and Leroy stayed in business together until Chester passed away in 1999.
It was two of his three sons, Danny and Jeff Kier, that came up with the idea to haul their father to the cemetery on the back of a semi.
“We got it in our heads, somebody said something about it, and we found out we were thinking about the same thing,” Danny said. “Getting it all ready kind of kept us busy rather than being numb.”
After making sure what they wanted to do was legal, the boys, who both still drive trucks for a living, said they took the fifth wheel off the semi, then added a wood frame and carpet to make a sort of bed for the casket on back of the semi.
The children – the other two are Chester Kier and Tina (Kier) Pegan – said their father worked hard at his business most of his life, but took time to enjoy life more in his later years and became a member of the New Vienna Church of Christ.
“It was the only way to do it. He would have been proud,” Jeff said of his 76-year-old father. “He wanted it to be quick and over. He said, ‘I’m not going to know it anyway, so do it fast and quick and get it over with.’ But we took him out how he deserved to be taken out. He was a good man. He taught us how to be men.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.