PASSAGES: Kent’s Don Ihry leaves a legacy of tractors behind him

Don Ihry, known throughout Kent for the decorated antique tractors that lined his property on Benson Avenue, died this past weekend. He was 71.

Don Ihry

Don Ihry

Don Ihry, known throughout Kent for the decorated antique tractors that lined his property on Benson Avenue, died this past weekend. He was 71.

According to daughter Marci Wainhouse, Ihry was diagnosed with leukemia at the end of the summer and was stricken with a bacterial infection over the weekend. He died Sunday at University Medical Center.

Ihry and his wife, Toni, moved to Kent in 1973 and for his 60th birthday, Toni purchased an antique tractor as a gift, according to Wainhouse. The present sparked a collection that grew and became one of Kent's most recognizable roadside attractions.

Ihry, a former Boeing employee also owned an excavating business, on which he focused after his 1995 retirement from Boeing.

Wainhouse said she is not entirely sure when her father began to decorate the tractors, but it soon became a passion of his that the community was able to share. Ihry changed the decorations with the seasons, from balloons and eggs at Easter to flags on July 4 to ghosts and goblins at Halloween and Christmas lights during the holidays.

“It just became expected,” Wainhouse said of the decorations. “People really looked forward to it.”

Close friend Gordon Margullis said Ihry also looked forward to decorating the tractors for each season, even after he and his wife moved off the property in recent years.

“That was his enjoyment in life, that's for sure,” Margullis said. “He did it a lot for the kids.”

Margullis said that even this fall when he was sick Margullis found him outside decorating the tractors for Halloween.

Wainhouse said people would stop by the property in the 20400 block of 108th Avenue Southeast all the time to talk to Ihry about his decorated tractors, sharing “countless stories” with the family.

“He had, in his own way, a really wonderful impact on the community,” she said. “We want them to have an opportunity to pay their respects.”

Margullis also said that people were constantly stopping by the house to drop off holiday goodies to thank Ihry for his decorations.

Because the tractors are such a recognizable symbol for Kent residents, as well as a reminder of her father, Wainhouse said the family has removed all but one tractor from the property as a memorial to allow friends and community members a place to pay their respects and share stories.

Within a few weeks, however, Wainhouse said the plan is to honor her father's memory by decorating for Christmas the tractors he loved, something Margullis said he though Ihry would like.

“I will always honor him with that,” Wainhouse said.

Ihry is survived by his wife, daughter and four grandchildren.

Funeral services are being handled by Marlatt's Funeral Home of Kent. A memorial is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at the First Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 19800 108th Ave. S.E., Renton.

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