HUGHSON -- As Daniel Wilson lay in a hospital bed battling leukemia, his oldest daughter hatched a plan to fix the dilapidated roof on his auto repair shop.
Rene Wilson started calling roofing contractors a couple of months ago, and soon found out the industry isn't all about profits.
Vernon Enterprises of Hughson and Pacific Valley Roofing of Ceres teamed up this week to put a new roof on the Superior Automotive building on Santa Fe Avenue, donating about $15,000 in materials and labor.
Eric Vernon, owner of Vernon Enterprises, knows Daniel Wilson as the mechanic who repaired the company's vehicles for years.
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Ron Reed, president of Pacific Valley, doesn't know Wilson from Adam. But he's a friend of Vernon and plans to drop by to meet Wilson when he's home from the hospital.
"I just felt it was my duty to do it," Vernon said. "Dan is a friend, and the community here is just a big family."
Daniel Wilson, 51, was rarely sick until his health took a downturn last year. About any respiratory virus could put him down for a couple of weeks. He bruised easily, his gums started bleeding and he suffered from dizziness, his daughter said.
Wilson, who doesn't have health insurance, finally went to a doctor and was diagnosed with leukemia in late November 2006. He has been in and out of University of California at Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The hospital will release him to home hospice care soon, his daughter said.
Wilson's wife, Christine, has been a strong advocate for his care, and the four grown children have rallied around their father.
His inability to work for the past year has drained the couple of resources and left several projects unfinished, including the shop building roof, which leaks badly when it rains.
Rene Wilson wanted to fix the roof to give her mother options for continuing the business or leasing out the building. She talked with Vernon and also got in touch with the Pacific Valley office, which seemed to take an interest.
Reed ran into Vernon one day, and they resolved to tag team the project, even though the recent housing slump has taken a toll on the roofing trade. Reed said Wednesday he has a soft spot for honest people who need a hand.
Workers from both companies removed the old roof Monday, and installed new plywood and 3,600 square feet of thermal plastic material, completing the job Wednesday.
Wilson said her father was happy when she told him about the contractors' generosity.
"He had finished radiation and was having a hard time talking," she said. "He squeezed my hand and had a tear running down his cheek."
Daniel Wilson was a mechanic for a Chrysler dealer in Modesto, and began his own business in the roadside shop next to their home in 1981. Soon after he put the sign up, a man rolled his broken-down car into the driveway -- his first customer.
Wilson started helping her father in the shop at age 12. She learned to bleed the brakes, sorted bolts and helped with the bookkeeping. The Wilsons homeschooled their children -- Rene, Robert, Rose and Ray -- which allowed them to have lunch together about every day.
Superior Automotive wasn't a flashy business, but Wilson built a reputation for repairing domestic and foreign cars and commercial vehicles.
Vernon said the mechanic worked until 9 p.m. or later repairing his lift trucks so they were at the job site the next morning. He also enjoyed chatting with the upbeat repairman.
After finishing the roof Wednesday, the brawny roofers added a final touch. They cut letters out of the material to spell "Dan's Place" on top of the building.
"He will always look down and know where home is at," Reed said.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.