A Spomer surprise: Wisconsin wife surprises husband with anniversary visit to Spomer Classics


WORTHINGTON — Anita Faulkner may have been dragged by her husband, Joe, to a few classic car shows over the years, but she still wanted to give him a special 41-year wedding anniversary gift.

The Faulkners were at Spomer Classics bright and early Monday morning, as Anita surprised Joe with a visit to Worthington’s museum of vintage cars, automotive memorabilia and neon signs. It was a present she kept secret for several weeks.

“About a month ago, I sent (Spomer Classics owner Marv Spomer) a message, and he told me to contact him closer to the time we were going to be there,” described Anita, who with her husband was making her way from their home in Madison, Wis., to Yellowstone National Park to celebrate their Oct. 28 anniversary. “I finally called him about five days ago … and (Spomer) asked if I wanted to come at 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.

“If I’d realized he was such an early bird, I would have done 5. We arrived at 6:45 and were walking around outdoors. It’s so obvious that this has got to be a passion of his, what he’s doing here — and how many people get to do what they’re really passionate about in life?”

The Faulkners lived in Virginia for many years — Joe is retired from NASA, Anita from the FBI — before moving to Wisconsin. They’d never previously toured the Upper Midwest together.

“We were trying to do six-hour increments on our trip,” Anita explained, “and that put us in Worthington. I first thought, ‘Worthington, there’s not going to be anything to do there.’”

She and Joe were, of course, were mistaken. The duo arrived in Worthington and enjoyed an evening in the community.

“We drove by here last night and I said, ‘maybe we can stop at that place,” Joe said.

Anita, though, kept her surprise intact.

“He came for the cars and I came for the signs,” she said, smiling.

Anita fondly recalled an old vehicle of her father’s on Monday morning, sharing memories of the Studebaker that was totaled “by a lady behind him who was talking to her birds in the back.” Joe, meanwhile, asserted his love for classic cars, adding that’s important to appreciate them from a certain distance.

“James Joyce said that to admire to art is profound, and to want to own it is profane,” he said.

The Faulkners were headed Monday for a tour of South Dakota’s Black Hills. Spomer, for his part, was happy to share his memorabilia connection with his visitors.

“I’m so thankful we can share it with people,” he said. “That’s what makes it worthwhile.”