Fred Dykeman Jr. liked to live by the modern adage: “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
And in 67 years, the successful Duanesburg contractor made sure he amassed a lot of toys. When he died last May he left his wife with two airplanes, 13 trucks, 78 tractors and more than 100 pieces of farm equipment stowed in barns and garages he owned across the town.
“He died, quit, and declared himself a winner,” said his widow, Jean Dykeman, surveying the four-acre field of equipment outside her Weaver Road ranch.
Dykeman’s collection of equipment and tractors — all working and some valued at more than $60,000 — will be put up for sale this week in one of the largest farm auctions in recent town memory. The event is expected to draw up to 3,000 people Saturday and bids from as far away as New Zealand, said Jim MacFadden, the owner of MacFadden & Sons Auctions, and a personal friend of the Dykeman family.
“People never knew how much he had until we got it all in one place,” he said.
A lifelong resident of Duanesburg, Dykeman founded General Drywall in 1974 and built the company into a successful business that employed nearly 180 people at its peak. He later founded Duanesburg Oil, which he ran until his death.
Dykeman’s true passion revolved around finding tractors to use on his 576-acre farm, just across the street from the home where he grew up. For years, he searched for unique farm equipment he could add to his growing collection.
Dykeman said her husband was a farm auction aficionado and would often profess his intention of browsing instead of buying. He’d return later, casually reporting he didn’t buy much.
“He would say ‘I only bought a cup of coffee,’ ” she recalled. “And then slowly, he’d bring in the toys.”
Dykeman also wasn’t shy about where he’d travel, often flying his Cessna across the country.
He even imported one tractor — a 1952 John Deere G ‘high crop’ model — from Argentina. MacFadden said the antique tractor is expected to bring nearly $30,000.
MacFadden first met Dykeman the year he started his auction company during the mid-1980s. He found the gregarious collector eyeing a John Deere 4230 he had found in North Carolina; it’s now one of the many trademark yellow and green tractors dotting the auction field, off Weaver Road, which is west of the hamlet of Duanesburg off Route 7.
“It’s not just an auction, I’m selling out a friend,” he said. “Anybody who knew Fred knew him as a friend.”
Getting the auction together was no easy task. MacFadden employed 10 workers for two weeks just to gather all the equipment and has arranged for another five workers and four county sheriff’s deputies to help control traffic.
“We’ve gotten more responses than any auction we’ve ever done,” he said.
Already, dozens of interested buyers have been perusing the collection of equipment, some in awe of the sheer size of Dykeman’s collection. Clifton Park farmer Duane Lindsey spotted the auction in the paper and decided to pay a visit in advance of the bidding this weekend.
“There’s an amazing amount of stuff here,” he mused. “There’s stuff here I’ve never seen before.”
In a way, the auction will serve as a fitting memorial to Dykeman, his wife said. She could envision her husband walking through the bustling farm with a broad smile and an eye for a new toy.
“It seems like it’s all full of life again because this is what he’d like to do,” she said.
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Categories: Schenectady County