Salchert auction chance to bid final farewell

People from all over the district, and as far away as London, Ont., came out in droves Saturday for what turned out to be an opportunity to say a last farewell to one of the area’s best-known and well-liked characters.
An auction was held in Morley Township for the estate of Rod Salchert, who passed away suddenly back in June, and a total of 338 bidding numbers were issued to prospective buyers.
They were so numerous, in fact, that the parking area was filled and cars were parked along the driveway almost all the way back to Ball Road.
“He must have been well-respected,” noted auctioneer Bill Klassen, who came in from Winkler, Man. to oversee the bidding.
“The auction team felt we had a good crowd—enthusiastic,” he added.
The turnout was all the more impressive since the auction fell on the same day as a big calf auction at the nearby Stratton sales barn.
In total, 50 tractors were sold, in addition to 60 pieces of smaller farm equipment as well as an assortment of household items Salchert had acquired over the years.
The top bid was for a Massey Harris 33 tractor that went for $6,900 while the bidder up from London left with no less than five John Deere tractors.
But for some, it was more than just a chance to pick up some useful (and in some cases unique) items. It also was a chance to say goodbye one last time to a man who himself was an auctioneer for more than 35 years.
One of those was Salchert’s daughter, Roxanne McCabe, who viewed the event with mixed emotions. She said it was almost like the funeral all over again, but she, too, was reminded of just how popular her father was.
“He was the best auctioneer in the whole district,” she remarked.
McCabe noted her father worked extremely hard and often donated his time because he loved what he did—even though it took a toll on him.
“Sometimes he’d be wiped out for two or three days afterwards,” she recalled.
McCabe said her father had been an auctioneer for at least as long as she could remember, and was completely self-taught. She began accompanying him on his weekend missions from the time she was about five years old.
Those memories, she noted, are among the fondest she has.
“We only had one vehicle then and sometimes we would hitch-hike to auctions,” McCabe recalled. “We put up signs at Canadian Tire and stick our thumbs out.”
But Salchert was more than just an auctioneer. Many times, his daughter noted, he would snap up items that were being underbid simply because he knew someone who needed or could use them.
“He would pick up stuff that was worth more than the bids and drop off boxes to people who needed them,” she said.
In recent years, Salchert also spent a lot of time visiting residents at Rainycrest Home for the Aged here.
McCabe said he had an insatiable appetite for knowledge—particularly about the district—and would converse for hours with people who otherwise would probably never have had a chance to tell their stories.
“He had the biggest heart ever,” she stressed.
Salchert also had the biggest collection of tractors in the district. According to McCabe, it wasn’t something Salchert consciously sought; it just sort of happened.
“It was a hobby that got out of control,” she laughed.
He also collected many other things, as well, and had an uncanny ability to spot the unique or unusual. Furthermore, he made a point of learning the history behind the goods.
“He knew the story behind everything he picked up,” his daughter remarked.
Salchert’s passion for things odd and unusual sometimes manifested itself at Christmas, when he tended to surprise his family, McCabe said.
“It [Christmas] was hilarious, some of the things we would get,” she laughed. “You just didn’t know what he thought was good.”