COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) – Pete Tetley has collected an accolade from FOX31. We’re naming the Air Force veteran our FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month for September 2022 for his 28 years of military service, and four decades of volunteering to help veterans.

Tetley’s basement walls are lined with 65 tall and sturdy file cabinets. Inside is a pristine collection he started 76 years ago – automobile brochures by the hundreds of thousands.

“There’s not too many people who’d want to do what I did,” Tetley told FOX31. “To me, they were beautiful cars.”

His fascination with car catalogs began as an 11-year-old boy. The paintings and photos of post-war vehicles fueled his daydreams.

“The styling and design of these cars just fascinated me,” he said.

So he’s spent a lifetime collecting car brochures. Not a 100, or a 1,000, or 10,000.

“I’d say close to a million, if you open all these drawers and pull all this stuff I have out,” Tetley said.

What is a car brochure? Used to be, when you walked into an automobile dealership, they’d give you a catalog describing their new models. Bright, bold, full-color, multi-page picture books of that year’s model.

“We call them the ‘silent salesman.’ It’s sad today, the ‘silent salesman’ is dead. They don’t make catalogs anymore. You have to go on to the computer,” Tetley said.

Over the decades, he expanded his collection. The rarer, the better. He took an interest in foreign cars.

“I used to write to those companies, and they’d send me literature,” he said.

And then he decided to start collecting scale models of the cars, bringing those old catalogs to life.

“I probably have a thousand of those little models. And they’re like works of art in my opinion,” Tetley said.

Few might find value in Tetley’s collection, but it may be worth a mint. He recently sold thousands of duplicate brochures to a collector for $30,000.

The question now is, what will become of Tetley’s collection after he’s gone? He’s pretty sure he’s got decades to worry about that.

“I’m 88 now, and I still think I’ll probably live to be 110,” Tetley said.

After all, these old papers have taught Tetley a thing or two about longevity.

“You realize that this paper has outlasted the metal on the cars?” Tetley asked.

When he’s not collecting old brochures, the Air Force veteran is helping old friends. After decades of service in the military, he’s spent the last 40 years volunteering for various veterans’ charities. He spent years driving veterans to the VA hospital. He was instrumental in the creation of the Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs and spends every Friday volunteering at memorial services for those interred there.

It’s because of his service to his country and community that he’s been named the FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month for September 2022. Along with a plaque, he receives a $500 Visa gift card from our Serving Those Who Serve partners, Plumbline ServicesFord and the Leo Hill Charitable Trust.

To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, military family member or volunteer, visit the Hero of the Month nomination page.