An Iowa auctioneer honors a father’s legacy

Today’s Interesting Iron is going to be a little different. Normally, I write about tractors that you can bid on. However, every now and then, stories come up from farm auctions that deserve to be told. This is one of them.

Clint Bauer was a farmer and mechanic in Lacona, Iowa, about an hour or so south of Des Moines. He was a lifelong fan of Oliver and White tractors, and he had a thing for the old two-stroke Detroits. I didn’t have the chance to meet him, but I feel like we’d have gotten along really well (and enjoyed going deaf together)!

Clint loved his Olivers, especially this one with a 4-53 Detroit in it! He even drove it to his son’s wedding in 2019!

Sadly, this past October, Clint lost his life in a farm accident during harvest. He was well-known and respected in Lacona, and when he passed, the town came together to bring in the harvest. Over 50 farmers put their own harvests on hold to finish the remainder of the corn and beans for the grieving Bauer family. Clint was always quick to lend a hand whenever he could, and for the local farmers in Iowa, this was a practical way for them to pay their respects.

In and of itself, that’s a great story (you can read a great account of it here in the Iowa Soybean Review), but it’s not unique. Farmers band together every year to do things like this, because that’s who we are. You’ve seen similar stories before, and I’m sure you’ll see more.

That’s not where this story ends, though.

About three weeks ago, Mark Putney, one of our Tractor Zoom auction partners, hosted the Bauer family’s farm sale. It was very well attended, and Mark set several auction price records (one that might be unbreakable). More on that in a sec.

A great big heart for his community

Putney Auction Service team photo
Putney Auction Service

This is Mark (center of the back row) and the Putney Auction Service team from Indianola, Iowa. We’re very fortunate to have them as an auctioneer partner at Tractor Zoom! 

Putney Auction Service is a successful company that handles everything from estate auctions to collector stuff to farm equipment. Steering the ship is Mark Putney, a second-generation auctioneer from Indianola, Iowa. He’s also one of the biggest-hearted guys I’ve ever met in this business.

Mark believes very strongly in our farm kids. Every year, he donates his time, calling dozens of charity/benefit auctions for local schools, FFAs, county fairs, and churches. His company handled the sale of Luke Wickett's Allis Chalmers B that I wrote about a few months back. He even held the auction open a few extra days for me so we could promote it a little harder through the blog post!

Luke Wickett and his Allis Chalmers tractor

Putney Auction Service recently handled the sale of this 1946 Allis Chalmers B, restored by Luke Wickett, the young man standing behind it!

In fact, it was a charity fund-raiser that underlined the Bauer family’s decision to use Putney Auction Service for their sale. Nate told me that on the day of a football jersey auction for a local high school, Mark showed up super early, just so he could get to know the players personally. And when the auction started, Mark had an inside joke or a story for every one of those jerseys. Nate said, “You just don’t see that kind of attention to detail these days, and watching him work reinforced our decision to have him handle the sale.”

Mark has been one of our Tractor Zoom auction partners for over three years, and we’re proud to have him aboard! He doesn’t have any farm sales listed right now, but keep checking back. It won’t be long before he’ll have a yard full of equipment ready to go!

Check out Mark's listings on Tractor Zoom

Honoring a father’s legacy

Despite being a muddy mess (Mother Nature had her way with the pasture in the days preceding the sale), the sale was VERY well attended. It was well-advertised to begin with, so that came as no surprise.

Clint Bauer farm sale
Mark Putney

Late March is awful hard on pastures here in Iowa, but it didn’t stop the bidders from attending Clint Bauer’s farm sale.

The star of Clint’s equipment lineup was definitely the White 4-225. It was his favorite workhorse tractor (also the first one off the line). His sons grew up in that cab with him. It wasn’t going to be real easy to see that one leave the farm for good.

The Bauer farm family
Nate Bauer

The Bauer family: Nate and his wife, Danni; Janet (Mom); Brandon and his wife, Nikki.

Bauer cousins at auction
Chad Gebhart

The Bauer cousins grew up helping their Uncle Clint on the farm. From left: Cale Gebhart and his dad Chad, Ross Bauer, Nate Bauer, and Brandon Bauer.

Mark knew this, and he did a really classy thing. He scoured the internet high and low to find a 1/16 die cast White 4-225. These are not easy to come by! With just two days left before the auction, he finally found one in Omaha. He ended up having a pretty late night driving out there and back to pick it up!

White WFE 4-225 die cast  toy tractor
Nate Bauer

Thanks to Mark Putney, this WFE 4-225 die cast will remind the Bauers of good times spent in the cab of the real one from the farm.

Before he sold the big one, Mark gave the die cast to Nate and Brandon. The look on their faces said it all. I know that Nate had a tough time keeping it together, and I suspect that many of the bidders got a little choked up, too. Here’s a short video of how it happened. (Apologies for the video quality, but I think you get the drift.)

Sometimes it’s the simple, small gestures that mean the most, y’know? Mark didn’t make a big deal of it, because that’s not his style, but it meant the world to the Bauer family.

Highlights from the sale

The auction was a massive success, and I know that the Bauer family was thankful for Mark’s hard work. Nate told me that during the process of cataloging the equipment, Mark made it really easy on the family. He told me, “Mark said, ‘Nate, you guys do what you need to do. I won’t pester you unless I absolutely have to. You’ve got enough on your plate.’” For a family that was still putting the pieces back together, this was a blessing.

The White 4-225 went to a buyer in Indiana, and it set a price record that’ll be pretty hard to beat – $47,000! Obviously, it had some history pushing it in the right direction; being serial number 1 tends to do that. Additionally, while it was still in its work clothes, the interior was cleaner than average. Nate and his dad had also replaced the motor fairly recently.

Clint Bauer harvest scene in fall

Clint Bauer’s White 185 sold for $36,000! Here it is during harvest of 2020.

One other highlight from that sale was this White 185 MFWD. This workhorse hammered home at $36,000! It wasn’t an all-time record-setter, but you’d have to go back to 2005 to find a higher sale!

Final Thoughts

Oftentimes, the toughest part of an auctioneer’s job (especially with estate sales) is helping a family grieve and helping them be OK with sending things home with new owners. I’m sure every family goes through that to a certain degree. Material possessions, whether it’s Dad’s Field Boss tractor or Grandma’s Kitchen Aid mixer... they all have strong memories attached to them. They tie us to the people who used them. At the end of the day, auctioneers help the family prepare to let those things go while retaining those memories. Not an easy thing to do.

Mark’s small gesture to Clint’s sons really struck me. Giving them that toy tractor helped Nate and Brandon hang on to a really significant memory. When their kids are old enough to ask about their grandfather, they can point and say, “Grandpa and I spent a lot of time in a tractor like this one.”

For the Bauer sons, that toy tractor probably means more to them than Mark could ever know...

Special thanks to Nate and Danni Bauer, Chad Gebhart (cousin), Ross Bauer (cousin), and Mark Putney (Putney Auction Service) for the photos and videos. Mark and Nate, thanks for the time on the phone recently, too!

Find Oliver equipment at auction here

Find White Farm Equipment at auction here

Ryan Roossinck

Hi! I’m Ryan, and I love tractors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a showpiece, an oddball, or seen its share of life ... if it’s unique and it’s listed by one of our auctioneer partners at Tractor Zoom, I’m going to show it off a little bit! This equipment is all up for auction RIGHT NOW so you can bid on them! I think they’re cool, and I hope you will, too. This is Interesting Iron!

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