As we grow older, we naturally become more vulnerable. Pat and Stan Kipping could certainly attest to that, as the cost of their prescription drugs eventually landed them in debt, meaning they could no longer afford the payments on their Buick. Repo man Jim Ford confiscated the car in 2016 – and just days afterwards, he returned.
Residents of Red Bud, Illinois, Pat and Stan lived a reasonably comfortable life, with the latter a retired janitor and Navy veteran. The pair avoided falling into debt for a long time, but that eventually changed in 2016. With Stan now suffering from Alzheimer’s and prescription costs soaring, their finances were in very bad shape.
Before long, the couple realized that they could no longer afford the payments on their car, with around $2,800 left to settle the sum completely. As Thanksgiving approached, Pat then received a phone call from a repo man named Jim, who asked her to contact the bank and agree a payment plan.
Unfortunately for Pat and Stan, that didn’t work, so Jim eventually made his way to their house to repossess the car. However, as it turned out, the repo man had been on their street in the early hours of that morning, with every intention of taking the Buick. His mindset had quickly changed, though, following a conversation with a local police officer.
“I went out there that night, [and] I [saw] a cop about a block away from the house,” Jim recalled in a GoFundMe YouTube video in October 2017. “So I just pulled up and talked to him, and I said ‘Hey I got a repo down on the end of the street.’ And he was like ‘Please tell me it’s this truck down here.’”
“I was like, ‘No it’s a Buick,’” Jim continued. “And he goes ‘Oh, that’s the old couple down there at the end.’ It was already 2:00 a.m., the car was in the garage, I wasn’t going to knock on the door and bother them.” Following his conversation with Pat the next morning, the repo man returned to Red Bud and soon understood their situation.
“All their prescription drug costs had gone through the roof,” Jim revealed. Despite their parlous financial position, though, Pat didn’t want to evade the responsibility she now faced. “I’m not a shirker,” she said in the YouTube video. “If you owe something, I believe you should pay it.”
“[But] it was pretty rough,” Pat continued. “We didn’t have money to pay our bills and the drug store.” When Jim arrived back at the house, he was greeted by Stan, who then invited him inside for a cup of coffee. Incredibly, the trio swiftly became friends, despite the unfortunate circumstances.
However, as Jim prepared to leave the house with the Kipping’s Buick, Stan gave him a heartwarming message. “He looked at me, and he’s like ‘Jim, you’re so good to us buddy, if I ever win the lottery I’m gonna split it with you,’” the repo man said in the YouTube video. “I was like ‘Thanks bud, thanks for kicking me right in the stomach!’”
With those words ringing in his ears, Jim eventually left the house with the car in tow, but he didn’t get very far. Indeed, the repo man pulled over to contact the bank, asking if he himself could pay the money that was past due for the Buick. Later that evening, he then spoke to his business partner, desperate to pay off the car completely.
With that in mind, Jim set up a GoFundMe page, aiming to raise over $2,000 so he could buy the car back for Pat and Stan. After sharing the link on his Facebook page overnight, the repo man awoke to discover that the target had been surpassed, meaning he could return the Buick to the Kippings.
Later that week, he brought the car back after a service and an oil change, before revealing the good news to Pat and Stan. With the Buick now completely paid off, Jim also handed over the additional money raised on the GoFundMe page. Unsurprisingly, the couple couldn’t thank him enough.
“[Jim] was wonderful,” Pat told TV network CBS News in January 2017. “I mean, he’s the kindest man I’ve ever met in all my life. When he took the car I said, ‘God, do whatever, whatever you think is best for us.’ You know, God works in mysterious ways.”
Following that heartwarming act, Jim stayed in touch with the Kippings, regularly meeting up with them over hot drinks. On another occasion, he and his family took the couple out for some food, strengthening their friendship. “We had a great dinner,” the repo man told daily newspaper the Miami Herald in April 2017. “I like to eat, and Stan liked to eat, too.”
“And Stan likes his Stag,” Jim continued. “He had a great time. You could tell they hadn’t been to a (nice) restaurant in a long time.” However, in March 2017 everything changed. It all started when Pat made a trip to the hospital in Red Bud.
While there, Pat received news that Stan had taken a fall back at their house. “I got out of the hospital in time to see him…and all he did was look at me,” she recalled to the Miami Herald. “And I’ll never forget that look. I could see the look in his eyes. He knew what was gonna happen, and he was telling me with his eyes, ‘I love you and goodbye.’”
Stan spent the next four days in a critical condition, before sadly passing away at the age of 83, leaving both Pat and Jim heartbroken. “I felt cheated out of really getting to know him, because we were just getting going,” the repo man said in the GoFundMe YouTube video.
“I didn’t even expect in a million years that that would happen that quick,” Jim continued. “I thought we were going to have a lot more time.” With bills to pay in the region of $25,000 following Stan’s death, the repo man went back to his GoFundMe page. From there, the online community did its part to help Pat through.
Incredibly, the page has raised more than $28,000 since Jim first set it up, with donations still being made after Stan’s passing. He maintained his poignant friendship with Pat, as he continued to look out for her in her time of need.
“There’s good people out there,” Pat had told CBS News after the Buick was first returned to the house. “[Jim’s] our guardian angel.” Jim’s efforts in the months that followed certainly proved that. While his profession may suggest otherwise, this repo man definitely has a heart of gold.