Mechanic to retire after 70 years in the business

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2020 at 4:11 pm

John Keding, nearing 85th birthday, could fix anything

Photos by Tom Rivers: John Keding, owner of Keding Automotive on East Avenue in Albion, has his last day of business on Wednesday. He has been working as a mechanic since he was 14.

ALBION – John Keding – a mechanic since he was 14, first fixing lawn mowers – is finally calling it a career. His last day of business will be Wednesday. He has been working for 70 years.

Keding, who is two weeks from his 85th birthday, said he will miss his customers and daily interactions out in the community.

Keding put an ad in this past weekend’s Lake Country Pennysaver, announcing his retirement. Today, the phone rang often with congratulations.

Linn and Sarah Beckwith, customers for about 20 years, showed up in person with cookies and cards for Keding, office manager Karen Dibley and mechanic Shawn Deibel.

John Keding is shown in the shop today with mechanic Shawn Deibel and office manager Karen Dibley.

Mr. Beckwith said Keding has unquestionable honesty, and would spring into action for his customers.

“He provided very good service over the years,” said Mrs. Beckwith. “I had a lot of emergencies. He had quite a team here. We’re going to miss them.”

Keding said he is selling the building at 309 East Ave. to his daughter Christine and son-in-law Michael Buorgiorne. It will be the base for Buorgiorne’s construction business.

When Keding started as a mechanic when he was a teen-ager, he installed turning lights and fixed lawn mowers.

He learned the auto mechanic trade at the General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich., beginning the two-year program in 1953. He worked for General Motors for three years before a two-year stint in Army at Fort Dix from 1958 to 1960.

He returned to Albion in 1960 and worked as a mechanic for a car dealership for 13 years before a brief stint as an electrician.

He opened his own business at the East Avenue location in January 1974. Keding said the work has become more high-tech with problems in cars more difficult to diagnose due to computers and electronics in vehicles.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said about his career. “It’s something I always wanted to do.”

Shawn Deibel, 25, has worked with Keding the past eight years, starting in high school.

“John has been a good teacher,” Deibel said. “He has always been accepting and if I needed help he would lend a hand. He has been a wealth of knowledge.”

Karen Dibley has worked as the office manager for the past 14 years. She will be taking a job at the high school as a teacher’s aide.

“He has a love for the job,” Dibley said about Keding. “If it came in broken, he could fix it. He has really enjoyed being out in the community.”

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