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Max Nordeen and the Petrified Leech.

Max Nordeen Dead; Wheels Museum May Be Preserved

One of's heroes, Max Nordeen, 76, passed away on Thursday, December 9th, in a nursing home. Max and his Wheels Museum were an irresistible detour whenever we found ourselves within 150 miles of his home in Woodhull, Illinois.

Max was the quintessential collector of obscure treasures (some might call it junk) and had a story for every single item (such as his Petrified Leech, shown in the photo above). Visitors couldn't leave until they heard Max tell every one of those stories.

According to neighbor Doug Peterson, Max experienced a series of strokes over the last few years and had gotten weaker, but still lived at home and operated his museum. Doug and his family would bring Max food occasionally, "because he wasn't taking care of himself very well." Late in 2003, Doug found Max's house locked, but "heard him holler, and tell us where to find the key. He was inside on the floor, had fallen down and couldn't get up."

Max was hospitalized, and was convalescing in a nursing home. He had since been moved to a VA nursing facility, where he passed away.

We'd heard in 2001 that Max had purchased a tomb for himself. Every other grave in the Woodhull cemetery is under ground, with just a stone sticking up. Max will be entirely above the ground. The door is supposed to be in contrasting black granite and will have his picture on it.

The funeral is scheduled for tomorrow, December 17th, at the Peterson-Wallin-Knox Funeral Home, 111 South First Street, Alpha, Illinois.

Update - December 20, 2004: Lorena Hughes, a cousin of Max's, writes "The family plans to carry out Max's wishes and preserve his museum at this time."

She also relates: "I am a cousin of Max Nordeen and my grandfather was a 1st cousin. He came to our house many times and we went to his. Max did not have close family but that does not mean some of us did not love or care about him. We kept in touch and shared his love for collector cars, semi trucks and antiques. We were both auctioneers. I came from a family with a long history of auctions and collecting. Max had bought antiques from my grandma's brothers Robert and Lawrence. Max shared many great family stories and bits of history with me."


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