Eulogy read by Terri Smith White – His Oldest Granddaughter
Jesse LeRoy Crookston, 96, passed away Friday April 8, 1994 at the Logan Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of natural causes. He was born February 14, 1898 in Hyrum to David and Mima A. Crookston. He was a grandson of Robert and Anne Welch Crookston. On June 2, 1930 Jesse married Phyllis Mae Garr from Millville. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Logan LDS Temple. Phyllis preceded him in death on March 2, 1965. Jesse lived a long and fruitful life. He spent most of his years in Hyrum. He moved to Pocatello in 1923 and worked with the railroad for 10 years. At this time he played traveling basketball for the Union Pacific. In 1933 he returned to Hyrum and became a very talented carpenter and a successful farmer.
Jesse assisted in the construction of the first Hill Air Force Base, 2nd Street in Ogden, Bushnell Hospital, Navy Depot and Hyrum Dam. Although busy with carpentry in the day, he never neglected his farm. He owned and operated one of the first Grade A Dairy Systems in Cache Valley. He took great pride in his farmland, his machinery and his animals. Grandpa's greatest enjoyment during his declining years was his grandchildren. Jesse was a member of the LDS church and loved to sing hymns. He participated in the Hyrum 2nd Ward Choir for many years. He also enjoyed working on the ward Old Folks Committee. He was active in the Democratic Party. Jesse was chosen as a lifetime member as one the Sons of the Utah Pioneers
Survivors include Richard and Clo Crookston of Roy, Marilyn Smith of Hyrum, Loralee and Ken Swartz of Holiday, Kathleen and Vernon Gunnell of Hyrum, Garr and Nancy Crookston of Logan, and Tom and Geneva Crookston of Hyrum. He has 39 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Phyllis, his son-in-law Tom B. Smith, his grandson Tony Crookston, his sisters Jenny Glen, Helen Jensen, Besse Thomas and half sisters Emma Dunn, Josephine Unsworth and his brothers David James and Russell Lou Crookston.
(By his grandson Richard J Crookston with information taken from the speeches given at his funeral from Richard L. Crookston, Garr Crookston and Terri Smith White)
Since Jesse was a quiet man, not much is known of his early childhood. His father David lost his first wife Tena Hartvigsen two years after they were married. She died just a few weeks after the birth of her second child. Tena was only 24 years old. Four years later, David married Tena's younger sister Mima. She had three boys and three girls. Jesse was the third boy and the third child.
Jesse came from a strong family that was solid in their beliefs. His grandfather Robert heard the gospel from the Elder Watts. He believed and was baptized the next day. He and his family soon left Scotland for the United States to join with the other members to practice their beliefs.
Jesse's father, David, settled in Cache Valley with his eight children. His favorite way to bear his testimony was by asking Benny Clawson in the Hyrum 2nd ward to play the piano while he sang his testimony to the 2nd ward. O My Father was Jesse's favorite hymn. Many times his father, David, would sing that hymn. Dad loved music and sang a lot.
When Jesse was a child he lived across from the fire station in Hyrum. He would go watch the horse drawn fire wagons.
Jesse said that when the first car came in town, the children would pay a nickel to ride around the block in the car.
Jesse grew up in hard times. When he was young he thinned sugar beets. He began when he was six years old. Jesse said that everybody had to work in those days.
Jesse was at the hospital when his older brother Russell died shortly after he returned from World War I. Jesse thought that he didn't take too well to the inoculations that he received in the service. He passed away a few years after he was released from the military from brain fever. Jesse said that they would not release Russell until his hospital bill was paid. Jesse paid for the hospital bill because he knew that his father didn't have any money.
When Jesse was in his mid-twenties, he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for 10 years. The Union Pacific also had a traveling basketball team. Jesse said that there were very few people that were as tall as he (6'1"), so he was the center. He traveled the Western United States playing basketball with other companies and colleges. He hurt his leg during his basketball days. I think that injury had an effect on him during his later years.
He met Phyllis at a dance. Dancing was becoming popular. He would travel to Logan where they had weekly dances. After being engaged for a year he decided that he might as well get married. Jesse was 31. They married in Pocatello and lived in there for a couple of years.
During the Great Depression, Jesse always seemed to find work. He worked many different jobs. He told me that he drove a delivery truck. I don't remember the other jobs, but he appeared to be a person that would work very hard and would take whatever job was offered him.
During the depression, Jesse went with his father David up to the canyon to get logs to build his own home. He took the doors and windows from a Hotel that had been abandoned on Town Square. He put those in the home he was building. He built the home for less than $2,000. Jesse was very proud of his new home. He learned to do a lot with a little. This had a tremendous effect on the life of his children.
During the War years Jesse worked 10 to 12 hours a day. He would drive through Sardine Canyon each night. Cache Valley can really get cold. Jesse was proud that he had the only heated garage in Hyrum.
Jesse and Phyllis worked hard during the war years to save money. They secured property for themselves. They bought a farm on the road to Paradise, a tractor and other things that they needed for the farm. Those were the happiest days of Jesse's life when he was able to acquire those things that he needed to take care of him and his family. He was a great provider for his family.
Jesse was very self-sufficient. They had all the vegetables, fruits and flowers in their large garden. They were always giving things away to family, friends and neighbors. They were very generous.
I remember very well as a young boy the large garden. I would help my parents pick raspberries from Grandpa's garden. There were apples, plums, concord grapes and much more. The flowers were always used to decorate grandma's grave.
The farm was considered a responsibility of the family. Work came first. Sometimes there was not time for anything else. Jesse was very detailed. He had a water turn where he had rights to irrigation water for a period of time. There was enough time to water his farm, but you had to tend to your water turn. He turned over the responsibilities to his kids. He allowed them to manage it. But if they didn't manage it very well, he let them know very quickly. He always made sure that the next person that was to receive that water would get it on time.
Jesse had a farm outside of town. He would rotate his crops properly each year to make sure the crops had the proper amount of nutrients. Many of Jesse’s neighbors recognized that Jesse could raise a lot of small crops on small acreage. Many of his peers tried to learn from Jesse. Jesse did a lot with only an eighth grade education.
Jesse was good at supporting his sons. Tommy and Garr joined 4H and FFA. So Jesse bought them purebred cattle. He would keep track of their pedigrees. He kept current by reading the Cache Valley Breeders. He applied the knowledge from the flyers to breed his cattle for higher milk production. Then he created a testing program to monitor the butterfat and production. He had a high production level. Many times he was leading the state in production per cow.
Jesse carefully thought out everything that he did. He built his own wagons. He was one of the few people that could back a four-wheel wagon. He had a definite way to haul hay. It was stacked and presented to the barn so that every time a fork was brought down it would pick up four bales of hay. You were never permitted to put less than four bales unless it was the last load from the wagon.
He was a good builder. The things that he built on his farm were well constructed. Many times when people would come to the milk parlor they would marvel at the cement ceiling. They would always ask, "How did you do that?" Jesse didn't have any of the modern day panels that his son Tom would use in cement foundations. He must have built a complete under support to create the ceiling. For all the years that the milk parlor was used, there never was a crack in the cement ceiling. There must have been 20 –30 ton of hay above it.
Garr remembers when he built the barn in the mid 1950's. Jesse heard that somebody was going to tear down a barn. He got permission to have the materials. He took the boys and the wagon and hauled back every piece of lumber. The boys hammered out every nail and straightened those that were salvageable. He then went downtown to buy salvage bands from the water canal pipes. The bands had been sitting for 10 years. They too needed straightening out.
The beams were used to build the barn. Iron bars were run under each of the beams of the floor. The barn was so reinforced that when his son-in-law Tom tore down the barn, he had wished that he could have brought it down with explosives.
Richard remembers when Jesse was a cooking merit badge counselor. He always had something thoughtful to say to the boys, even if they did give him burnt offerings.
Marilyn tells about the old folks party in the 2nd ward. Jesse and Phyllis would spend months of preparation. They would prepare a big meal and all day long they would have a program. At the end of the day they would have sandwiches and more programs. They didn't have it just for the Hyrum 2nd ward but they would bring in the elderly from all the outlying wards. These people learned to serve and respect their elders. They worked hard and were a very dedicated people.
Grandpa loved art. Garr said that he would study Nancy's paintings. He wouldn't just glance at them, but would comment on them. Nancy would listen to his comments because he had some knowledge of art. That meant a lot to Garr's family.
I was small when Grandma passed away. But I do remember that we would go up there every Sunday for dinner. I think they would make a large dinner and serve it in the front living room. Many of my aunts and uncles would be there. It was like a weekly family reunion. I don't remember the food much, but I do remember grandma's homemade bread. It was very good.
I also remember on Grandpa’s birthdays, somebody would always buy him Bluebird Chocolates. I would wait for him to pass the chocolates around. I would always try to get a caramel chocolate.
As a small boy I would explore Grandpa's house, sometimes called the log cabin because it was made from the logs that he brought from the canyon. I would always find in Grandpa and Grandma's bedroom hard candy that they would share with me. I was always amazed by the hole in the floor in the closet that was a laundry chute. I remembered the bathroom that had two doors. I would always forget to lock one. The garage was interesting with all the tools and the giant shot put that Kelly and I would try to lift.
Since I was Grandpa's oldest grandchild, my growing up years was also his working years. I was one of the few grandchildren that knew grandpa as a workingman. When I was at the house he was usually out working. I watched him and his sons in the barn as they attached the automatic milking machines to the cows utters. Sometimes he would let me throw the cows oats while they were milking. I would watch the large tub of milk in the milk parlor. I would play with Kelly in the hayloft.
I remember Grandpa very vividly with his steel dome hat and work boots. I remember the cows coming in with number tags. I also remember a time in the alfalfa field when the magnet salesman visited us. Grandpa bought me a couple of long cylinder cow magnets. I was so fascinated with them. They were one of my favorite showings for my school's show-and-tell.
I do remember while out in the fields Grandpa was beginning to lose his hearing, because he was always asking me to speak up. Maybe I was a shy, quiet child.
There is a picture of Grandpa and his grandchildren under the apple tree behind the log house. My cousin Terry has fond memories of this picture. She remembers sitting on a limb in that tree where she could watch the cows march into the barn to be milked. Terri learned from Grandpa that milk time is not for play. He was kind to his animals. Grandpa would take time to teach Terri how to feed the new calves and how to tend the new kittens.
After Grandma passed away, Terri said that Tommy, Garr and Grandpa would eat each night at her house. She remembered one meal when a dish of hot potatoes was dropped and scalded her. Grandpa was so concerned for her safety. His concern meant a lot to her.
A few years after Tommy and Garr left home, Grandpa remarried a lady named Eleanor. She seemed to be a very educated person. She would talk quite often of her son working for the U.S. government in Russia. I wondered how a person like that would get along with a hard working farmer. But Grandpa loved to read. If you talked to any of the grandkids, they would tell you that Grandpa was always reading. He had a very sharp mind. He loved to talk places, histories, and especially politics. I guess they made good conversation companions. They took care of each other. At that time he lived across the street from the Logan Temple in Eleanor's house. It didn't seem like they stayed married more than a few years before divorcing.
Sometimes when my family went up to Cache Valley, I would mow his lawn with a non-gasoline push-mower. On one of these occasions, Grandpa took me over to his cousin Fred's. Grandpa said that Fred would come over every Sunday to watch the Lawrence Welk Show. Fred made an excellent hot soup. Fred passed away a few years later. Grandpa and Fred were very good friends.
Grandpa loved to take me around town to show me the buildings that were built by his Grandfather Robert. Now I wished I would have paid more attention. When I was very young, Grandpa would take me to the Utah State Fair. I don't remember what we saw, but I bet we saw a lot of cows.
When Grandpa left the farm he sold his properties to Tom Crookston and Tom Smith. They kept up the farm for some time. Grandpa took the proceeds and divided the money among his children.
Most of my cousins remember in his later years after his retirement when he stayed at their homes. After his divorce from Eleanor he stayed with the Smiths. Soon after that he stayed among all of his children. Each child would have him in his home for 2 months of the year. This gave all of the grandchildren a good chance to know him. He did this for probably more than 10 years.
I was married by then and didn't see him much when he was older. I did get a tape recording of an interview I had with him a few months before he passed away.
In his later years Terri told of how Grandpa tolerated pain and never complained. Once he got out of his car, slipped and fell into the gutter of the church. Brooks Jensen's son helped him into the Smith's home. Terri noticed that he looked uncomfortable. But he didn't complain. Terri's mother came home about 8 pm. After asking him some questions, she took him to the doctor. They found that he had broken his hip. He sat there many hours never complaining or mentioning the pain.
Terry told how Grandpa kept up with his friends, the 'Sunshine Boys'. He would meet with them weekly and talk about the good old times. Grandpa would keep up on the people in Cache Valley and would often attend the funerals of friends that passed before him.
Terri said that Grandpa always had a sharp mind. He would always be the note taker in the home and keep the family apprised of each other's comings and goings. Grandpa could always recognize when Terri was dating. He would always notice. He would ask lots of questions just to keep things right. She appreciated that attention.
Grandpa loved sports and would take some of the grandchildren to the Utah State Football games. Some of his favorite foods were white beans and ham hock and bread and milk.
Grandpa was very patriotic. He was a voter until he died. He was devout Democrat. I remember him telling me that the Democrat party was for the working people and the Republican party just supported the rich. He told me once that he lost a job because he would not change his party.
Jesse’s children remembered him a strong, firm and resolute man who never wavered. These qualities were passed on to his children. Jesse's children are strong and firm in their beliefs. They are hard workers. They have remained very close to one another are very loyal to their siblings.
Marilyn would say that if she could pass anything on to her kids about her dad, it would be his strength. Garr said that he was a strong man. He never did see him falter – he was a rock. As he got older, there was a time that Garr had to catch him as he was falling down the stairs. This was the first time that he could see in his eyes that Jesse depended on his children for their support. Here stood a humble man that could now receive support and strength from his children after the many years of being the support and strength to them.
He died great in the eyes of his children, grandchildren and peers.
Last updated Wednesday, December 23, 2009