- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 6, 2016

POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The sky was low and dark but Rich and Linda Ervin’s spirits were high as they arrived last week at Blast From the Past Restoration & Customs, a sprawling shop in Pottstown where classic cars in various states of undress - seatless, fenderless, tireless - awaited the doctors.

It was nice to see the Ervins smiling, said Charlie Van Dyke, an old friend. They have had more bad days than good days since their son, Eric, was shot to death at his Allentown auto-detailing business two years ago during a car sale arranged on Craigslist.

It was an appalling and absolutely pointless act of violence perpetrated by a Reading man who, if justice means anything, will serve every bit of his 30- to 60-year state prison sentence.

Eric’s death came four years after the Ervins lost Crystal Cordero, their 32-year-old daughter, to liver failure, so the Quakertown couple have spent much of the past six years in shock and sorrow.

In their son’s obituary, they wrote that he had been called home to be with Crystal, finding solace in the notion that their children had just gone on ahead a ways and will be waiting for them.

They are sustained in the meantime by their son Matthew and other loved ones, many of whom were on hand for the long-awaited unveiling of the Mustang - the classic 1966 pony car that Rich had long planned to restore in his retirement with Eric’s help.

After Eric died, that plan lay fallow for a long time. But Rich finally decided that having the car restored would be a nice way to honor both his children. After all, he and Eric had originally planned to give the refurbished car to Crystal as a gift.

“It was in pretty good shape,” Rich said, “but it needed body work and a paint job.”

Rich, a retired truck driver and diesel mechanic, is a car buff - all the Ervin men have been so for generations - but he didn’t want to tackle the job himself. At a swap meet in Allentown, he met a man whose son was in the restoration business, and that’s how he ended up bringing the car to Dave and Paula Borneman’s Blast From the Past.

It was a good choice. The Bornemans and their 12-man crew are not only masterful restorers but deeply sympathetic and good-hearted people. As the weeks went by - as Rich turned up Thursday after Thursday with a box of doughnuts to tell the crew what he wanted the car to look like - they grew to embrace the project as a personal mission, putting in extra hours to get it done and done right.

They restored the panels, the upholstery, the dash. They painted the body silver-blue and made the chrome gleam and put a muscular 289-cubic-inch engine under the hood. In a whimsical touch, they mounted black dice on the door lock buttons.

Finally, they painted two hash marks above the front tire on the driver’s side and inscribed each with a name: Eric Shawn and Crystal Danielle.

Rich didn’t see much of the later work. He deliberately stayed away for the past few weeks because he wanted to be surprised at the unveiling.

“He’s been on a high for months with this car,” said Rich’s brother, Chuck Ervin. “And he just can’t say enough about David and his wife. They’re fabulous people.”

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the Bornemans and their crew pushed the tarp-covered car out of a garage door into the lot, where Rich and Linda sat side by side in white plastic chairs with a box of tissues between them.

Dave Borneman and one of the crew peeled the tarp off from back to front. When the hashmarks came into view, Rich Ervin, who had been holding it together pretty well, let out a loud “Oh” that was somewhere between a moan and a sigh.

He stood and bent over and stared at the names. Linda looked on through tears, and after a few minutes melted into her husband’s arms.

“Now our kids are home,” she said.





Information from: The Morning Call, https://www.mcall.com

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