Dee Wescott (August 13, 1927 - January 29, 2009).
Dee Wescott was born in Portland, Oregon, August, 13 1927. While in grade school the family lost everything in the depression and moved to the Damascus Oregon area where family could help out. Dee had started grade school in Portland, and graduated from the Damascus Grade School.
Dee Wescott bought his first car in 1939, when he was twelve years old. It was a Ford Model T pickup which, he said, he soon began to modify, rebuilding the motor in his bedroom. A few years later he was racing a Model T roadster through the orchards of his community, Damascus, Oregon. Dodging trees was a little rough on the cars, so Dee started a backyard repair shop with a homemade wooden hoist, a humble beginning for his future rod-building career.
Dee enlisted in the Navy on graduating high school, while 17. Dee was selected for advanced avionics training and became an radio and radar technician, and served two carrier tours in 1946-1947.
After discharge Dee entered vocational school for both auto mechanics and auto body repair, while working part time for an upholstery shop. Dee went into a partnership with his cousin in an auto related business called Jack's Service in Damascus. Oregon. In 1953 the partnership ended, and Dee went into business as Wescott's Auto Restyling. The new business specialized in “Hot Rodding” and “customization” of cars, along with body and fender repair and painting.
By 1953, Dee was involved with the Motor Sports Association which held races at the Jantzen Beach Raceway. When a fellow driver was badly burned Dee took on the promoters insisting that they provide and maintain adequate firefighting equipment to prevent further tragedy. At the same time, Dee was driving his 1932 Ford Coupe in loosely organized street races around town. Numerous local “hot-rod clubs” would meet on little-used roads anytime of the day or night to race. Sheriff Terry Shrunk (later mayor of Portland) was sympathetic to the rodders' desire for speed, but concerned about the safety of the community, so he approached the street rodders to see if some sort of compromise could be reached. Having proved himself as a leader, Dee was the natural spokesman for the rodders. When the clubs organized the Multnomah Hot Rod Council in 1954, Dee became the first president.
The first order of business was to move the races off of city streets, so the council negotiated for permission to race on idle airstrips until a permanent racing facility could be found. In 1958, the council purchased the Woodburn Drag Strip, and the races became more official. In the meantime, the council organized car shows where the public was invited to share in the rodders love of cars. Dee showed the first known rod customized from a current model car: his 1953 Oldsmobile pickup. It had started out as a sedan, but had been rolled on a mountain road. Dee salvaged the chassis and some front end sheet metal, grafted on a GMC cab and bed, and hand built the fenders.
In the 1950s Dee experimented with fiberglass repair in order to work on Corvettes. This became a significant part of his business with industrial, marine and Wescott's high-quality replacement street rod parts and reproduction Ford bodies. These are generally recognized as the best in the industry and form the basis of hundreds of prize winning street rods. In the 1980s the industrial, marine, paint, and repair parts of the business were phased out in favor of concentrating on the Early Ford Replacement Parts and Body business.
Dee joined the Boring Fire District as a volunteer firefighter. In 1958, Dee became volunteer Chief . He remained active as a volunteer until 1997, at age 70. He was elected to the Fire District Board of Directors in 1968 and served as Chairman for many years. He loaned the fire district a small lot for a station, and for many years the air horn that summoned firefighters was kept on top of his building.
In 1979 the fiberglass industry was being threatened by unreasonable OSHA requirements. Dee helped form the Oregon Reinforced Plastics Association to educate industry on safe practices, and regulators on what are and are not the specific hazards and challenges for the industry. This led to the adoption of a special and workable Oregon OSHA standard for the fiberglass industry. He served as President for several years.
In 2005, after spearheading an effort to incorporate his childhood community of Damascus, Oregon, Dee became the first mayor of the new city. He was re-elected in 2007 for a second two-year term and served through 2008.
In May 2007 Dee was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He retired from day to day work in his business. Despite chemotherapy and other complications Dee continued to keep active working through December 2008 on a customized 1933 coupe, the Fire District Board, and as Mayor of Damascus.
Dee Wescott's Cars
Cars Built by Dee Wescott
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