When competitors in the Callaway County truck pull hauled their way to victory Tuesday, they earned something a little more special than prize money. They also earn a trophy that reminds them of a big player in the annual event's early days.
Since his death in 2003, Charles "Gene" Lepley's daughter, Dianne Arms, and son-in-law Lester have honored his memory with commemorative trophies. The family have also fixed up his old pulling truck, a 1978 GMC, and enter it in the annual pulls. This year, the truck took first place in the 5,800-pound street stock class and 5th in the 6,200-pound.
"My husband and I rebuilt that truck, and it's got new paint, the rust is gone, it's all pretty," said Dianne Arms. "We did all that, but it's still referred to as Gene's truck, grandpa's truck. All the grandkids still come to the truck pull and watch grandpa's truck."
Arms said her father was a big supporter of the Callaway County fair and entered every year, as well as her husband. Since his passing, they wanted to honor his memory in a way that still supported his favorite event. The couple have since provided trophies inscribed with Lepley's name to the first, second and third-place winners of both the street stock and modified stock 5,800 and 6,800-pound pulls.
"Back when he started doing it, there probably weren't that many trucks that pulled," said Arms. "It was more or less for bragging rights. Basically that's still what it is, and the trophy is more of a sentimental thing. The guys that are pulling in these classes pulled when ,y dad was pulling, too. A lot of these guys... have a memory, too. It's a big honor and it makes me feel good that people still remember him."