Full-service gas stations mostly have become a thing of the past in Johnson County, but one exception has been the Casey Brothers Sinclair station in Mission. Now, Hersh and Ray Casey are retiring.
The station has already stopped pumping gasoline, but Hersh Casey, 79, will still help run the station’s auto repair shop until Aug. 1.
Every 25 years, the Environmental Protection Agency requires gas stations to replace their tanks, Hersh said, and the station was due for a tank replacement.
It’s an expensive thing to do, and in the end, Sinclair didn’t want to invest in new tanks. That helped Hersh decide to retire now.
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The property will become solely an auto repair shop run by a relative.
The shop and the Casey brothers have been a fixture in Mission. To honor that relationship with the customers, the brothers and the city of Mission put on a party at the station on a recent Saturday morning.
“They have been here for 56 years, which is something that is pretty remarkable in this day and age,” Mission spokeswoman Emily Randel said. “…We wish them really well on their retirement. It’s really clear that a lot of people really wish them well on their retirement.”
Hersh came to the Kansas City area from Arkansas, because he couldn’t find work back home. His brother, Ray, had come here earlier, as part of his military service.
“I worked at a couple of different service stations in the area,” Hersh said.
In April 1954, he started working at what is now the Casey brothers’ station. He worked there for five years before the company canceled the lease for the owner at the time.
Although he wanted to take over the station, Sinclair thought he was too young, so Hersh left. He and Ray took over a Texaco station a few blocks away and ran it for two years.
Then, the opportunity came for Hersh and Ray to take over the Sinclair station, and they leapt at the chance.
Running a gas station takes a lot of hard work, but Hersh said he never minded.
“I always got here early and weren’t in no hurry to go home,” he said. “The hardest part of the job is getting and keeping (employees). The rest of it — if you like it, you do it.”
The place is full of memories, some tangible and some not. A green inflatable Sinclair dinosaur hangs from the ceiling — right where it’s been since 1970.
On the shelves behind the register, Hersh keeps all kinds of Sinclair memorabilia —souvenir cups, plastic dinosaur toys, model cars and more.
Mike Brock, the head technician at the station, has worked for the Caseys on and off for 27 years.
“I think that (the customers) are loyal to him,” Brock said. You’ve got third and fourth generations of families” coming in for auto repairs.