On October 16, we received word that my father had passed away. I knew when I hugged him the last time that it could be the last. It was. My mom asked me to write the life sketch since I wouldn't be able to be with them. Each of dad's five children gave a tribute to him, so I wrote mine and our daughter, Erika, read it at the funeral. Below is the life sketch and my tribute to my dad.
HERMAN AIKELE LIFE SKETCH
Just before midnight on March the 10th 1924, a baby boy was born to Andreas and Josephine Partington Aikele. The name they chose for him was Herman….a fine German name. As a young boy, Andreas had emigrated from Germany to the U.S. with his family. Josephine’s family had also emigrated to the U.S. from England. A common bond brought them together….their conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Herman joined 3 sisters; Helen, Agnes, and Lucille. His older brother, Lamont, had died 3 years earlier from a heart disorder caused by rheumatic fever. Later, two more siblings would be added to the family....Don and Juel. Herman described his early childhood as a very happy time. A frequent activity in the summer evenings was a game of croquet with his sisters and mother. They played almost every evening while they waited for their father to return from tending water. Other activities they enjoyed as a family were going to movies on Saturday night, going fishing on Sundays, and singing together while Helen played the piano. He remembered his mother reading to him out of good books and his father reading the comics to him out of the newspaper every week when he was very young. A favorite of his was the “Will Rogers” column in the newspaper. By age 6, he was trusted to ride their gray saddle horse, named Flax. He loved to ride her because he could reach up and pull her head down to the ground and she would allow him to climb on her neck and then she would lift him up to her back. At that same age he was given the responsibility of milking one cow each night. He was quite proud of himself to have strong enough hands to accomplish this task. Herman also had a favorite dog named Scottie that was his constant companion. At age 6, he found one more thing he loved…..school. He really enjoyed going to school and learning through all of his years of education. The “Old Home Place” as Herm referred to their farm in the Lost River Valley, required a lot of hard work to keep up, so he was given many responsibilities at a rather young age. By the time he was 10, his father had taught him how to drive their Model A Ford. He drove all over the farm assisting with the farm work. Also, at that age, his dad bought him a .22 rifle and he was given the assignment to “keep sage hen on the table” and he did. It was his job to skin them and dress them out and then his mother would do the rest.
Herman was very active in the scouting program as he grew up. He also loved sports and played on the varsity teams in both football and basketball during his last 3 years of high school. At the same time he was playing sports and keeping up with school work, he had the full responsibility of running the milking machines morning and night for their 2 dozen milk cows. Each morning on his way to school, he hauled 10 large cans of milk to the cheese factory...then on his way home in the evening, he would pick the empty cans up and then drive around to the back where he would fill 10 old milk cans with whey to take home to feed to their pigs. This was a big job!!
After graduating from high school, World War II was in full swing. He worked for a year with his dad and then in November of 1943 he enlisted in the Navy. Incidentally, this is when he saw that his birth certificate said he was born on March 11 instead of March 10....of course, his mother knew the 10th was correct, but he decided to follow the legal date and celebrated his birthday on the 11th for the rest of his life! Herm scored very high on the eligibility tests the Navy gave and they assigned him to an Electronics School in Chicago. He had very intense classes in electricity, math and science. He was shipped to Hawaii for more training but before he had had any combat experience, the war ended. He made some great friends during this time, and received a top notch education. He also gained a great love for his country and was very patriotic throughout his life. After his service was up with the Navy, he went home to pursue a relationship with a gal he had met during the summer of ’43. Her name was Atha Pearl Murdock. He was pretty much “smitten” from the first time he met her. They dated seriously the summer of ’46 and were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on Oct. 2, 1946. Herm’s mother had passed away after a long illness the week before their wedding. Herm and Atha took up farming, gradually buying their own land from his father, building a home, and eventually added 5 children to their family....Andra, Eric, Carla, Kurt, and Lin.
The Aikeles were very industrious.....Atha sewed and canned everything, and Herm knew how to build and repair almost everything. They had many enjoyable activities as a family, such as; fishing, camping, swimming, ice skating, 4-H projects, and just working together on the farm. Herm always enjoyed music and he became involved in singing with a barber-shop quartet with Paul King, Burns Beal, and Vernal Jensen......he sang baritone. They sang together in many places for several years. (They could actually be back singing together even as we speak!!) Much of the families’ “schedule” centered around this quartet. It was a very happy time. Herm and Atha held very dear the friendships they had with other couples, beyond those in the quartet. Among some of the closest associations are friends such as Lynn and Gloria Barnes and many members of the Lost River Ward and Johnny and Wanda Palmer, with whom they spent many great vacations together. Palmers and Aikeles went together on a time share house boat at Lake Powell. The Aikele children and grandchildren share many fond memories of the summer vacations at Lake Powell!
Herman was very community minded.....probably influenced by his father who served as a state legislator for several terms. Herm served many years as chairman of the school board and also as a Butte County Commissioner. He also served on the ASCS Board and the Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame Board. While on the School Board he took the entire family twice on trips to pick up new school buses. They rode the train to Chicago and then went to Indiana and picked up the bus and saw sites all along the way back home. These trips were pretty big deals!!!.....to make up for NEVER taking the family to Disneyland!!!! Hahaha!
In 1964 they struck out on a new adventure and started a business in Arco called Arco Feed and Fertilizer. That pretty much dictated their life schedule from then on! It was a good business and they really enjoyed the friendships they developed with so many people. In 1973 their son Eric joined them and together they worked hard to serve the people of the Lost River Valleys. Today Eric manages the business Herm built and manages the farms as well.
Herm was always glad Atha had come into his life.......his mother had given him strict counsel when he left home, that he was to “find a good Mormon girl and marry her in the temple”. His family had not been active in the church during much of his youth, so meeting Atha brought with it a desire to go to church and see what it was all about....he is eternally grateful. He held many callings in the church including serving in the bishopric, on the High Council and in the Young Men’s organization, but his favorite was always teaching.....especially the Elder’s Quorum class. These callings helped to increase his testimony and helped to develop in him a testimony of the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith for the restoration of the Gospel in the latter days. The “icing on the cake” of his church service was the opportunity he and Atha had to work as temple ordinance workers in the Idaho Falls temple for 15+ years. In 1994, they were called to serve full time as missionaries in the Wellington, New Zealand Mission.
Dad was always so grateful they had gone on their mission at the time they went, because soon after this, he began having health problems.....first with his eye sight, which ended up being Macular Degeneration..........and later he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease. Soon he was unable to drive anymore....but that didn’t set him back too much.....he could still tell Atha how to drive....and that he did (he became quite obsessed with the importance of seat belts)!! She was learning much about patience during this time! This also allowed him plenty of time to listen to talk radio....he and Rush Limbaugh became very close friends....soon he added Shawn Hannity and Glenn Beck to his circle. He learned so much valuable information from them and was more than happy to share his knowledge with anyone that would listen. He also loved to watch his favorite movie, Roman Holiday, over and over and over again!!! Atha helped add balance to his days by reading to him; he loved to listen to the scriptures, the Ensign, or great historical novels, he especially enjoyed reading about American History. He really enjoyed this time with her. In his later years he is fondly remembered by his grandchildren for his “patent, award-winning duct-tape shoes” built strictly for comfort.
In his later years he is fondly remembered by his grandchildren for his “patent, award-winning duct-tape shoes” built strictly for comfort.
After several years of pulling a trailer to St. George for the winter, they purchased a small home where they could enjoy the nice weather during the winter months and also be close to Andra and Jim. Their family, which had grown by this time to include 25 grandchildren and 65 great grandchildren, enjoyed so much visiting them there! It became the “stop over point” for those going to or coming from Disneyland!
In his final years Dad’s health challenges progressed but he proved to be a very strong willed man....always determined to stay here in mortality so he could take care of Atha. She was ever his vigilant care giver. One night when he thought he wasn’t going to live to see morning, he awakened Atha to tell her how happy he had been his whole life with her and that marrying her in the temple was the best decision he had ever made. He expressed his deepest love for her and the family they had created together. In early October Atha underwent a knee replacement surgery and it was the one time when she was away for any length of time. Herm’s health was rapidly deteriorating and he must have finally decided it was okay to go; he passed away very peacefully on Sunday evening, October 16, with his Atha Pearl beside him, holding his hand.
CARLA'S TRIBUTE TO HER FATHER
It is a privilege for me to pay tribute to my dad. I knew immediately when I was told that he had died, that I was to stay on my mission. This is where he wants me to be. I could write pages of memories, but I will share a few that stand out.
When I was 6 or 7 years old, television had become quite popular (it was the latter 1950’s), and my family loved to sit together in the evenings and watch whatever was on the ONE station! Actually, the rest of the family enjoyed television, while I enjoyed styling my dad’s hair. He had the nicest, thick, dark brown hair and the style of the day for men was wearing it long on top and combing it back.....it was perfect. As soon as he sat down in his comfortable chair, I pulled a chair up behind, along with my equipment....a comb, bobby pins, barrets, elastics, rollers, and a glass of water.....it was such fun for me.....and he was so nice to me.....turning his head a little this way or that....and even holding things for me until I asked for them. This was typical of his kind nature.
Christmas was always a fun and much anticipated time at our home. By the time Andra, Eric and I were all in grade school, it was just so hard to stay in bed on Christmas morning until the alloted hour when we were allowed to get up.....4:00 am......we just couldn’t go to sleep. Well, one year the 3 of us had a plan....we would sneak out and see if Santa had been there and if he had.....we would all go out and play with our new toys until 4:00 am, and then we would go back to bed and pretend we just woke up!! The door to our bedroom squeaked, but if you jerked it very quickly, it didn’t squeak....sooo...once we could hear that mom and dad had gone to bed, we all creeped to the door and, I am sure it was Andra, jerked open the door very fast, only to hear the biggest crash of pots and pans as they hit into each other and came crashing to the floor! Oh, yes, dad had rigged a booby trap so they would know if we tried to go out early. How do parents know these things!!!! We heard him and mom laughing and dad said “Back to bed!!!” It was the longest night ever!
As another Christmas was approaching, we had a very big secret with our dad.....and we could not tell our mother......he was building her a desk of her own for Christmas. He wouldn’t even let US see it, because he wanted to surprise us also! Every night he went in his work room in our partially finished basement, and locked the door, always winking at us kids because we knew the secret! We were so excited for Christmas morning to come....as we all went to the living room....to our unbelievable surprise...there was not a desk for mom, but three desks for Andra, Eric, and me with drawers and the whole works!!! It was the best surprise ever. To top it off, later that morning I was looking through the drawers and there in the bottom drawer was a bridle of my very own....I didn’t even have a horse....but when I would go to ride one my grandpa’s horses, the bridle would always be gone and I would be sad. This was one of the kindest and most thoughtful gifts I had ever been given.
Dad, I felt so privileged to grow up with you as my dad. You were honest, and kind, and loved our mom. You insisted we use proper English and have good manners.....and did I mention.....respect our mom!!!! Not showing respect to mom was the way to get in trouble really fast!!! You were always so kind to animals (except once you slapped our milk cow on the rump when she stepped right into the bucket full of milk!!) and I never heard you swear (except one time at Lake Powell and we deserved it!!!) You were such a great example of Christ like love.....nice to everyone and always willing to help others. You served faithfully in the Church and had a strong testimony of the restored gospel. Those last years when life could not have been that fun for you, you were ever pleasant and kind and positive. Thank you for your example. I absolutely know that you are now on the other side of the veil continuing in the Lord’s work. I look forward to when we will all be together again......we will have such a great time! I love you, dad....and from the Philippines.....Hanggang sa muli ('til we meet again).