Chester 'Mike' Ireland, 62
PLYMOUTH — Chester "Mike" Ireland, 62, of Plymouth, passed away at his home on May 10 after courageous battle with cancer.
Mike was born on Sept. 7, 1951, the son of Chester R. and Lois (Yeaton) Ireland.
He lived his entire life in Plymouth, graduating from Plymouth High School in 1969 and New Hampshire Vocational Technical College in 1971.
He worked as a truck driver for Yeaton Oil Company for six years before going to work at Ireland Lumber Company in the spring of 1977. In addition to his full-time work at the mill, "Mike" ran a light trucking business, delivering cordwood, bark mulch and sawdust to dozens of loyal customers in the Plymouth area. After the 2007 fire at Ireland Lumber, "Mike" founded his own company, Phoenix Lumber, and expanded his firewood production. He continued to work tirelessly and take great pride in his two businesses right up until his passing.
For part of the 1970s, and all of the '80s and '90s he was a loyal fan of Dave Dion and the Dion Brothers racing team based out of Hudson NH, following them to various tracks around New England such as "Thunder Road," Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Oxford Plains Speedway, to name a few, even going as far as Virginia and Canada. Sometimes he took the boys with him, other times some of his loyal racing buddies.
Those who knew "Mike" in recent years were very familiar with his love of collecting antique International Harvester tractors. He rarely left the house without his IH suspenders, IH hat or a tractor T-shirt of some sort. Mike was known to seek out virtually any piece of antique red farm equipment, but he was especially partial to Farmall "Cub" Tractors. He was enormously proud of his collection of IH tractors and IH farm implements and his library of IH books, manuals and magazines numbered into the thousands. He had been a member of Chapter 18 of the International Harvester Collectors Club since 1996 and served as director and advisor at various points.
Beginning in 2009, he was co-founder of the "Power of the Red" tractor show in Dublin, an All-International Harvester annual event hosted by Chapter 18. Mike's absolute favorite time of every year was his summer pilgrimage to the "Red Power Round-Up" tractor show. He traveled to Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and a handful of other states to view beautifully restored farm machines, talk tractors and to dicker and deal with other IH enthusiasts. For Mike, The Red Power Round-Up was even better than a trip to Disneyland.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Jackie Ireland, of Plymouth; two sons, Toby, of Belmont, and Mickey and his wife Kathy, of Mansfield, Mass.; his father, Chester R. Ireland, of Plymouth; and his sister, Sara Tatham and her husband Steve, of Plymouth.
He was predeceased by his mother, Lois Y. Ireland; a brother, Timothy Ireland; and a sister, Laurie Ireland.
Calling hours will be held on Saturday, May 17, from 4-7 p.m., at the Mayhew Funeral Home, 12 Langdon St. in Plymouth.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Mike Ireland to the International Harvester Collectors Club Chapter 18 Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 181, Ashland, MA 01721.