Hundreds of tractors line funeral procession route

DUNKERTON, Iowa (AP) — Farmers and collectors lined a funeral procession route with hundreds of tractors as a tribute to a northeast Iowa mechanic and tractor enthusiast who died last week.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/17UbfMU ) tractors were parked in fields, lawns and driveways Monday along the route from St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Jesup to St. Francis Cemetery near Dunkerton.

They honored 34-year-old Chris Toneff Jr., who died Sept. 4 after being treated for a brain tumor.

Toneff was diagnosed with a tumor in 2008 but the illness was successfully treated. He and friends organized an annual tractor drive in 2011 to raise money for brain tumor research.

His health problems returned last December.

In an interview last month with the Courier, his wife, Jennifer Toneff, described her husband’s love of tractors and eagerness to give people a hand.

“I think everybody just sees the good old American farm boy willing to help everybody,” she said. “I don’t think they make too many of those anymore.”

During the first two tractor rides, participants donated at least $100 each to the American Brain Tumor Association.

The ride went forward in August, after Toneff had moved to a hospice in Waterloo, but this time the donations went toward a college fund for Chris and Jennifer Toneff’s two young daughters. Organizers also offered T-shirts and sought sponsors.

This year, Toneff watched from a wheelchair as the tractors rumbled past.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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