Burkett, who worked at The Kelly for 38 years, died in March of 2013. His wife,
"Mom wanted to make sure it got down here because it's what he wanted," said an emotional
The family members were sad that Frank and Bette were not there to see the collection go on exhibit, but happy that the memorabilia had found a permanent home where the public can enjoy it.
"He was very proud of where he worked," said
Burkett didn't collect a lot while he was employed but began to accumulate anything he could find after his retirement.
"It all started with collecting ashtrays. It snow-balled. He loved it," said
Originally a maker of carriage wheels,
"When the guys came back from
The extensive collection includes clocks, signs, flags, tools, tires, tubes, paper weights, booklets, security tags, ID badges, patches, lighters, countless promotionals items and much more. One of the items that Burkett cherished most was a
"It was his favorite," said Cathy.
Burkett knew an elderly women in
"He was in the bank one day and the daughter of the women said, 'I have something for you.' She gave it to him. He was on cloud nine," said Cathy.
Also contained in Burkett's collection is a wide variety of shells and munitions. As many did during the war effort, The Kelly-Springfield retooled a portion of the plant to make ammunition. Bullets up to 50-caliber and large-scale shell casings for boat-launched artillery guns were produced at the plant.
"This is the largest single donation by an individual,
Burkett's entire family helped in collecting. They would find things at auctions, flea markets and online and present them to Burkett as gifts. Although The Kelly had plants in
"He never went anywhere without a hat or jacket or something that said Kelly-Springfield on it," said Cathy.
Sturtz feels the era of The Kelly-Springfield sets an example of what this country can do.
"I think Frank would want everyone to come in and realize what people could do when they put their mind to it," said Sturtz.
"It was a great place to earn a living. People didn't have to have their wives working. Mom didn't work after I was born. The Kelly made the American dream possible," said Cathy.
Bartik said the memorabilia took countless hours to inventory. He is please that the collection has found a permanent home. The items took up an entire garage bay at the Burkett home.
Bartik said, "I think the comment that Cathy made when we were departing out of the garage says it: 'This will do daddy proud.' I think daddy is proud today."
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