A Corbin business giant has died and will be laid to rest Wednesday.
Tom R. Storms, Sr., the founder of Johnny Wheels Auto Service, passed away Sunday at age 79.
Storms and his wife, Barbara, opened the business at the junction of Main Street and 18th Street in 1972.
“We started there and didn’t have any bays or anything like that,” recalled Storm’s son, Bill, who has ran the business with his brother, Thomas Ray Storms Jr., after their parents retired in 1996.
Even after the elder Storms retired, the brothers said he was regularly at the store.
The brothers said their parents moved to Corbin to be close to family.
“Dad had sold his share of an insurance company and gone to work in the mines in West Virginia. Mom told him, she wasn’t going to live in those hollows,” Bill Storms explained adding that the elder Storms ran an ad in the local paper seeking to purchase a business, and bought the block building in which he would start Johnny Wheels.
The brothers said their father was a very complicated person, but was simple and direct when it came to principals.
“It didn’t matter if it hurt your feelings, right was right,” Bill Storms said.
Outside of work, the brothers said their dad’s favorite pastimes were hunting and fishing.
Bill would join his father in the woods during hunting season, while Thomas was the partner of choice on the lake.
“I’ll miss the sound of the drag on his fishing pole and him yelling, ‘Net!’” Thomas Storms said.
“I may not have been able to see him come in, but I would know he was there because I would hear him in the back office. He would stop there and talk to my wife, beginning with, “Hey, pretty girl!’” Bill Storms recalled.
While it was important to their father that the business continue to do well and provide great customer service to the community, the brothers said their father was very community minded, especially when it came to being able to give back by helping local charitable organizations and fundraising efforts.
“Whenever he saw something about Johnny Wheels making some kind of donation, he would tell us, ‘You boys have done a good job,’” Bill Storms said.
“He had a heart of gold,” the brothers said.
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said he knew Tom Storms since Johnny Wheels first opened in Corbin.
“He was very congenial. He was low key, but a good-natured guy,” McBurney said.
The funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Corbin.
Burial will follow at Pine Hill Cemetery.
Vankirk-Grissell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.vankirkgrisellfuneralhome.com.