BUSHWOOD, Md. — A family is coming to terms with their loss after a devastating fire destroyed a classic car collection that meant much more to them than just a few vehicles.
The car collection stored in a Bushwood garage was all they had left of their beloved patriarch, former St. Mary’s County Commissioner Eddie Bailey. Bailey died two months ago at age 84 but left behind 22 classic cars and many precious memories.
Rick Mattingly said his grandfather’s interest in classic cars kicked into high gear after the loss of his wife of 57 years in 2016. “After my grandmother passed away, he went on a bender of buying collectibles.”
Mattingly said the family enjoyed knowing how much the vehicles meant to their grandfather. “Just to see his face every time he brought one home and talked about them individually. It was definitely something.”
The fire broke out just before 3 a.m. on Friday morning. Sixteen of Bailey’s 22 vehicles were destroyed. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Mattingly said the loss hurt. “Going there today seeing the damage was almost as bad as going to his funeral. I figured we still have the cars, we will still gather around and get them ready for the different shows we know he would want us to go to.”
He said the family is grateful for the community support they have received since Bailey’s death and in the aftermath of the fire. “I feel like the 7th District is a great community as far as supporting each other.”
Though Eddie and his beloved collection are gone, Mattingly says his passion for classic cars lives on in the family. “The cars were something special. They were everything to him. His passion for them spread to us, the children, the grandchildren, even some of the older great-grandchildren.”
He says his cousin has purchased an old VW bus, his brother-in-law owns a classic truck, and he is the proud owner of a vintage Lincoln Continental.
“The car collector in him…