Donated, vintage “Clyde” is one “awesome piece of automotive history” for Skyline community

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Wondering why that snazzy 1959 Ford Fairlane was parked for several weeks at the entrance of Skyline High School?

Well, it’s a 500 retractable convertible Skyliner, for starters. Fondly named “Clyde,”  the car was donated to Ann Arbor Skyline High School in memory of W. Charles (“Chuck”) Brown.

Brown’s grandsons,  James and Tommy Fry, attend Skyline, as did their older brother, Charlie, who is now at Miami of Ohio University.

Their mother (Chuck Brown’s daughter) says the family recently dedicated Clyde to AAPS so that young people can learn about these classic cars.

“When Dad passed in January, we had to sell his house and figure out what to do with his belongings,” said Karen Fry. “My husband came up with the idea to donate Clyde—a powder blue Skyliner. It seemed too perfect that Clyde had our high school colors and name.  It seemed a perfect tribute to my dad to donate the car so young people can learn about these special cars in his honor. And a lasting way to give back to our school community.”

Fry said that before her father died at the age of 73,  he had been a self-employed auto mechanic who could fix anything— truck, car, tractor or trailer– and had vast, intricate knowledge of how everything mechanical worked. He could talk shop all day long and spent most of his days “shooting the breeze” with customers in his X-Cell Automotive Repair garage, the conversation always centering around whichever car he was currently working on, she said.

Traveling to the classic car conventions with Clyde in tow was a highlight for Brown during the last decade of his life.

Chuck Brown drove the car in the Livingston County 4th of July parade every year.
From left: James, Tommy, Karen (w/Fitzy), Leif, Charlie Fry

Skyline Principal Cory McElmeel considers the gift of Clyde an honor.

“The Skyline community, staff, and administration are thankful to the Fry family for graciously donating this perfectly fitting and just plain awesome piece of automotive history to our school and community,” he said.

Tommy Fry, a varsity Skyline football player, stands beside Clyde at the homecoming parade. At the wheel is teacher Tom Pachera. Principal Cory McElmeel waves from the other side of the car.

Clyde is now in the auto shop at Huron High School where students are evaluating the braking system for repair before placing the car into storage for the winter.


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