The Guest Book is expired.
Jesse Earl Aber Jr. passed away peacefully of natural causes Nov. 24, 2007, with his wife of more than 55 years, Yvonne Hastings Aber, by his side. Jesse, or Bud, as he was known since childhood, was born Feb. 1, 1921, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Jesse E. Aber and Elizabeth (Toulmin-Bradbury) Aber. As a young boy he and his friends whiled away summer days swimming and fossil hunting in the local deep slate creek canyons and skating for miles on the same creeks by winter.
As he grew up he was attracted to engineering and assisted his father, one of the earliest professional civil engineers of New York state, with his land surveying practice. He was always fascinated with horses and in 1936 was invited to join the New York National Guard 121st Regiment Cavalry, Medical Troop. He and his young trooper friends often exercised the troop mounts racing through the expansive parks of Buffalo, learning proper riding and care of the horses.
His first date with his future wife, Vonnie, was the Regimental Cavalry Ball of 1937. He graduated with honors from South Park High School in 1939 and continued surveying with his father. Soon after he was accepted at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, School of Civil Engineering.
Dad put his engineering education on hold when the call of duty for World War II prompted him to enlist and enter the U.S. naval officer training program at Notre Dame University as a midshipman in 1943. He headed to Hawaii where UDT founder Capt. Draper Kauffman handpicked Bud to be executive officer of UDT Team 12 in command of 84 sailors and 14 officers for operations in the Pacific and South China Sea. Dad was honorably retired from the U.S. Navy Sept. 1, 1946.
He resumed his education at his beloved University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in engineering June 14, 1947. His love of horses and adventure led him to the thoroughbred horse racing country near Aiken, S.C., where he immersed himself in the curious world of horse breeding, training, and racing with a variety of colorful characters. He again encountered Yvonne Hastings on a visit home and they were married after a romantic courtship Dec. 1, 1951, at St. Jude‘s Episcopal Church in Buffalo.
Dad had always wanted to sail and the family bought a racing sailboat in the mid-1960s, racing on weekends at the Cuba Lake in the Allegheny Mountains of western New York. Sons Gordy and Jesse served as race crew and Mom and daughter Cecily joined in for the pleasure sailing. The family also joined the Concord Ski Club in Colden, N.Y., as charter members. During this time Dad served as a Little League baseball coach and a Sunday school teacher at Saint David’s Episcopal Church. Dad eventually brought his love of skiing west and volunteered as a coach with the Eagle Mount Ski Program for the disabled, becoming a Bridger Bowl regular until finally hanging up the boards at age 82.
Bud was town engineer of West Seneca for many years and started his own consulting civil engineering firm, Aber, Huffcut, and Krehbiel, eventually consulting on his own, and years later became a partner in Conable, Sampson, Aber of Orchard Park during which time the partners designed elements of the new Buffalo Bills football stadium.
In 1977, Dad and Mom bought a place on Springhill Road outside of Bozeman when an opportunity arose to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He monitored the construction of numerous projects and military defense systems for the Kingdom until 1986, leading up to the Desert Storm Campaign. In 1986, Mom and Dad returned to Montana and found a piece of upland on Dr. and Jane Newhall’s former ranch in Bridger Canyon on Jackson Creek Road. Mom and Dad moved into their final residence for the last chapter of his life, where they were blessed and fortunate to live together for nearly 20 years. Dad named the place The Mountain Farm, harkening back to his family ancestry of farming during the colonial period in the Great State of Maine.
Dad loved fly fishing, canoeing, and skiing with his daughter Cecily, her husband Tom, and grandson Leo Johnson of Bozeman, son Jesse, and numerous buddies he met and hung with in Bozeman. He even ended up, by chance, having a background role in the now famous movie, “A River Runs Through It.”
Dad and Mom returned to Maui every fall as their love affair with the islands, the culture, and beaches endured. Mom and Dad loved visiting her mother, father, sisters and families, and son Gordon and his wife Debbie in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area every spring. Dad was so proud of son Gordon’s service in the U.S. Navy Riverine Force during his tour of duty in 1967-1968 in Vietnam in river patrol (PBR) gunboat support for Navy SEAL units.
Jesse was a member of the University of Michigan Club of New York State, the Western New York Republican Party, the Society of Professional Engineers, and the Masonic Order. He was licensed to practice civil engineering and land surveying in 11 states including Montana. He proudly retained his status as a retired naval officer and his service in the Navy is memorialized at the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team and SEALS Museum and Visitor Center at Fort Pierce, Fla., where he once trained and is honored as executive officer of UDT No. 12.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jesse and Elizabeth Aber; his sister, Susan; and brother, Richard. Dad always had time for his children. Gordon, Jesse and Cecily, to help with schoolwork and college educations and will always be known for his integrity, compassion, sensitivity, humor, stoicism, athleticism, leadership and unwavering love for his family and friends. He was so grateful to the Lord for his many happy, healthy and rewarding years, especially those here in Montana.
Those interested in donating in his memory should support the Eagle Mount skiing and equestrian programs and the Bridger Bowl and Montana State University ski teams.
For a more in-depth obituary please see www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 29, 2007