Paul Elsberry died of natural causes on Aug. 12, 2014, at the age of 92. Paul was born in Emmett, Idaho, at a farm house on the upper bench on July 21, 1922, to Ernest and Goldie (Artz) Elsberry. They had four children (Claude, Paul, Ray and Betty).
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Goldie passed away from a tick bite before Claude, the oldest, was five. Ernest was going to send the children to the orphanage in Boise, but Ella May Jackson - who had just graduated from Emmett High School and who was also an orphan that lived with various families in Utah, California and later in Emmett - moved into the house to care for the children so they would not be sent to the orphanage and ultimately be separated. On Oct. 7, 1926, at age 18 she married Ernest, and after two and one-half years of marriage they were blessed with a son, Duane, and two years later a daughter, Joy, in Nyssa, Ore., where Ernest was working on the Owyhee Dam. In 1933 they moved back to Emmett.
When Paul was born, his dad was working on one of Andy Little's ranches. Before the doctor could make it to the ranch by horse and buggy, Paul was delivered ... and was ready for work. Years later Paul also did work for Andy Little, like hand-mixing and placing the concrete for the cattle loading chute at the Little homestead at the end of East Fourth Street in Emmett; providing the concrete for feeding troughs at the Van Duesen Ranch; and welding the property gates in the 1950s for the Little family along Highway 16 at the top of Freezeout Hill where they are still in use to this day! They do not build gates like that anymore, nor does God make many like Paul.
But, it was other work that honed who he was. He missed two years of grade school due to illness and left school after the eighth grade to help bring in money to the family. He milked cows and worked in the orchard at the old Stone place (across from the current Carberry school on Substation Road) when he was 14. At 16 he went to work for F. H. Hogue orchards, one of the biggest in the Emmett and Payette areas.
He was drafted into the Army at the beginning of WWII and was sent to Fort Douglas in Utah for basic training, but due to his contact with orchard spray material, his time was spent in the infirmary where he nearly died. He was discharged and sent home to Emmett to again run crews of men in the orchards during the war and after for approximately 12 years. He then went to work for the City Transfer business that delivered coal to businesses and residences in Emmett for winter heating.
But during cherry season he worked for the Hogue orchards to barrel their cherries during the day in Payette and at Emmett at night so that he could be home with his family. When his normal City Transfer work prevented him from barreling cherries, the orchard owners changed their process because no one would step up to barrel the cherries, so Paul was the last person in Emmett to barrel cherries - a craftsman's art ended.
He wanted to learn how to be a mechanic, so he went to work at the Brown Tie & Lumber Company in McCall for two years. He bought a Sears starter set of tools and just showed up at the mill shop and started working. The boss approached him after a couple of days and said, ""If you are going to show up and work here, I guess we ought to pay you."" He loved the work, but Evelyn could not tolerate the altitude or cold, so the family of three boys returned to Emmett and the City Transfer for 13 years (as part owner for the last three years). He brought the first backhoe, Caterpillar dozer and redi-mix truck to Emmett. If it was broken, he could fix it. He sold his portion of the business for health reasons, and continued a 25-year career mining and hauling the sand to the local sand company and serving as the company's maintenance superintendent until he retired.
Work was his play, but his wife and family were most important. He met and married Evelyn Boynton in 1941. Evelyn was born and raised in Sweet, Idaho, and during their courtship Paul would literally run from Emmett to Sweet over the old Frozen Dog Road and through Montour to see her and then run back home in time to change clothes and run to work. He knew he had to buy a car if the relationship was to last. He did, and the marriage lasted until Evelyn's death in 2000. They had three sons: Ron, Don and five years later Jon. He taught his three boys how to work; Evelyn taught them everything else.
He helped all the sons with his love and labor. All operated heavy equipment and drove truck for him. Ron went on to college at the University of Idaho and graduated with an industrial arts degree (and wife Mary Sweetnam) then went on to teaching and coaching track at McMinnville, Ore., before he started the A & E Lock and Key business that his son Mike continues to own and manage. Don went into the grocery business with local ""mom and pop"" Shamrock Market on the bench during high school, Safeway and Albertsons. He left the grocery store to help Paul after an industrial accident at the sand plant nearly crippled his dad; and Don (and wife Cheryl Christensen) went on to buy and operate a small ""mom and pop"" convenience store on east Main Street still called Don's Market.
Jon went to college and graduated from Idaho, then went east to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, for his Master's, and then travelled the world for four years teaching English in Australia, New Zealand, and England before returning to Emmett and going to work for Morrison-Knudsen Company in Boise as a proposal writer/manager.Jon now works as a consultant for MotivePower, Inc., a locomotive manufacturer in Boise, and owns the Frozen Dog Digs Bed & Breakfast in Emmett.
If the boys or their families needed help, he and Evelyn were there, no questions asked.
Paul is survived by his sister Betty (Smart) and her family in Idaho City and Boise and his son Jon in Emmett.
Evelyn passed away in 2000, Ron in 2001 and Don in 1989 from cancer.
Ron's son Mike and daughter Michelle and their families live in McMinnville. Don's son Doug and his family (wife Rebecca and daughters Jennifer and Christina) live in Richland, Wash. and his older daughters Melissa and Monica and their families live in the Boise area and his son Joey has returned to Boise after serving in the military in Europe. Don's other son David (wife Clintana and son Keegan and daughter Kassedy) live in Emmett.
Graveside funeral services will be conducted by the Potter Funeral Chapel in Emmett on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, at 10 a.m. The family requests no flowers-just give your family member or friend a big hug and send them back to work. Paul would have liked that.
And the next time you look at the big ""E"" on Freezeout Hill, know that a lot of Elsberry labor is looking back at you.
We love you, Paul. Rest in Peace.
Potter Funeral Chapel
228 East Main Street Emmett, ID 83617
Published in Emmett Messenger Index from Aug. 13 to Sept. 12, 2014