Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blast from the Past - First Aid Class Mackay Miner April 9 1970

Remembering Oval Lee Caskey
Oval Lee Caskey, 93 of Mackay, Idaho, passed away March 22, 2005, at Lost Rivers Hospital from cancer. Oval was married five times. His first wife, Gladys Petersen, died young of cancer; by her he had Robert Lee (deceased in 1988). He married Eileen Spencer twice, and by her had two daughters, Shirley Eileen (deceased in 1976) and Kathleen Karen (Gary Lambson). They divorced for the final time in 1955, and he gained full custody of both daughters. He married Mabel Miller in 1963, and they shared twenty-five years together until she passed away in 1988. Oval married Ada Yowell in 1992, and she passed away in 2000. Oval is survived by a daughter, Kathie (Gary) Lambson; grandsons, Jared (Shar) Lambson and children, Keller, Shay, and Konnor; Garth (Traci) Lambson and children, Remy and Sloan; Brad (Hether) Lambson; granddaughters, Rachael (Jim) Jardine and children, Jack and Grayden; Kari Ann (Gary) and children, Emmaleigh, Natalie, Anna, and Caleb; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Oval was born on July 8, 1911, in Pomp, Kentucky to Jesse and Amanda. He grew up on a thousand-acre farm, where his family raised sorghum, tobacco, and hardwood timber. In 1928, Oval moved to Beckley, West Virginia, and worked underground in the coal mines until he was laid off in 1932. On his return to Kentucky, his older brother offered him seven dollars and a smile saying, “Oval, go somewhere else. This place will kill you.” He used that money to get to Idaho.
With borrowed money and President Roosevelt’s New Deal, which incorporated the Civilian Conservation Corps, Oval boarded a train and left for Idaho. He arrived in the Big Lost River Valley, in 1937, on a night train. He joined the CCCs and helped build the Pass Creek, Trail Creek, Double Springs, and Salmon River road to Corn Creek. He left the CCCs in 1938 for the Forest Service as a lookout at Grouse Peak. Later that year, he started working for Dier’s Hardware in Mackay, and remained there until 1942.
By this time, the drums of war were sounding across his great nation, and Oval felt the call to join forces with what he thought was just. He did not need to volunteer as a single father (his wife had died of cancer), but he did. He answered his nation’s call, like so many of that greatest generation, and served in the Pacific Theater as a radioman with Admiral Halsey. Oval liked to say that Halsey looked over his right shoulder many times during many battles. He received five battle commendations during service on the Octavia and the Flagship Pennsylvania.
After the war, Oval realized that he wanted to start anew, like so many men of that generation. He enrolled in and passed the Carnegie classes on public speaking, although he had but an eighth grade education. He credited this course as the impetus that drove him to the many years of service he rendered southern Idaho: ten years teaching first aid, over twenty years with Eastern Idaho Special Services, sixteen years as Mackay’s mayor (during which time he had all city streets paved, built a new city hall, and modernized the water system), sixty-four years as a Mason (during which time he contributed to curing childhood illness), and fifty years as an Episcopalian.
One of Oval’s greatest accomplishments was his ranch, where devoted his much of his time after retiring in 1977 from the state highway department where he was foreman. He raised eighty head of steers on a mere thirty acres each year for twenty years. He would stand at a gate and whistle for the calves to change pastures — a feat that astounded many a cattle buyer. He often said that he had not done too badly for someone who started out with seven dollars in his pocket.
Oval enjoyed chukkar and deer hunting with his three grandsons, William Jared, Garth Lee, and Brad Lambson). He was ever ready with riddles, card tricks, and games for the price of a smile. He built high quality furniture for all of his grandchildren, and Kathie and Gary.
Oval has paid back in full more than should have ever been asked of his generation. He raised three children (much of that time as a single father) to see two of them die young. He survived three wives and left a family, friends, and a community with the thought that we are all responsible for each other, yet we are still responsible for our own destinies, and if you will please believe this, the last three words of his life were, “I love you.” I don’t think he meant those words merely for his family, but I think he meant them for the largeness that his life had become, for all his committees and orders and those friends left behind.
A memorial service was held in Ovals honor, on Friday March 25, 2005, at the Mackay High School Auditorium under the direction of Simpson – Marvel Memorial Chapel 153 Lost River Ave. Arco.
Oval is buried at the Mt. McCaleb Cemetery in Mackay, Idaho.

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