Harley Cressler was born in Sheridan Colo., near Hoxie, Kan., on March 22, 1928, to Ollis and Myrl Cressler. He was the oldest of five children. He had one sister, lIa Randolph, and three brothers Gerald, Ronald and Raymond. Harley passed away Sunday morning June 29, 2014, at his home on Summit Ridge, Colo.
The dust bowl of the ’30s forced the family to head west when Harley was about 9 years old. First to Craig, Colo., with Harley, Gerald and in tow, where Ollis worked in the mountains on a highline project creosoting poles in the dead of winter while Myrl lived in a rented drafty house. All three kids got scarlet fever. The house was quarantined, and Myrl was all alone to care for her children. She said every morning, she would stand them on a newspaper and scrape the dry scales off their bodies. She was terrified she was going to lose them, but thankfully all three got well.
They moved to Egnar, Colo., for a short time, then on to California, where Ollis worked until his brother, Oris persuaded them to come back to Egnar to farm. Myrl was afraid California was going to fall into the ocean from the “big” earthquake, so was glad to come back to God’s country. Harley grew up helping on the farm clearing the field for beans, mostly. Being the oldest, it fell to him to keep the water pail and the wood box full, which he said were both empty every time he walked in the door. As a teenager, he sometimes worked for neighbors breaking brush and driving a tractor. He told of working for one neighbor for 50 cents an hour for 10-12 hours a day. He graduated from the eighth grade twice. He was unable to go to high school as they lived too far from Dove Creek. Come winter, his dad said he might as well do something, so he took the eighth grade over again. He attended the old Burns school just a mile from their farm near Egnar.
In 1948 while he was working in the Naturita/Uravan area in the mines and mills, and living at the Flat Tops at Naturita, Colo., he saw this pretty girl hanging clothes out on the line. He would sit on the coal bin and whistle at her. A few nights later he asked her to go to the movies. This girl was Norma Boss. In July, he asked her dad for permission to marry her, and her father gave his consent. But a couple of Norma’s aunts thought she was too young to marry and sent the sheriff after them. Of course, Norma was only 14 years old, but after Harley won “custody” of her, they were finally able to get married on Nov. 17, 1948, in Aztec, N.M.
In 1953, Harley homesteaded 160 acres on Summit Point in Utah. They moved there on Julie’s fourth birthday. This was all virgin land so they had to break brush, push trees and build outhouse buildings. In 1961, their house burned, and the family lived in the shop while building their second home. In 1963, electricity finally arrived to the farm. They never did have a phone while they lived there. Harley worked several winters in the mines, mainly as a mechanic or hauling ore to pay for the farming in the summers. They lived on this land for 23 years raising beans, wheat, and five kids. He also homesteaded another 160 acres further up on the point. That place was called 50 and Plumb; 50 miles from nowhere and plumb out of the country.
In 1974, David took over the Summit Point farm, and they bought a bean farm near Cahone. Harley said he wanted to have 15-sack bean land, which he could never achieve with the Summit Point land. But the Cahone land was worn out and after 5 years they turned it over to David. They decided to retire from farming and moved to the place they have now here on Summit Ridge in May of 1980, 34 years ago.
Harley and Norma traveled through most of the United States, and visited Hawaii and a 6-week tour of Alaska. They spent many winters in the Niland, Calif., area boon-docking in fifth-wheel trailers, and later buying and selling homes and lots in Yuma, Ariz. He would buy and live in one home for a year or so, then sell it for another, leaving Norma either packing or unpacking until Norma told him if he sold one more place she was going move back to Summit Ridge and stay in Colorado, this happened in 2006.
They have stayed year-round here since. Harley was always a hard-working man.
During retirement, Harley had a multitude of projects with his loving wife right beside him. They built lots of oak furniture for family members and furnished their own home with oak furniture and cabinets. He built a complete pickup camper, the inside all in oak. He bought a semi-truck in 1980s hauling gravel, water and rock around this area. They built wood stoves for many years. Harley accepted the Lord as his personal Savior, very personally and quietly in his home a few years ago.
Harley had a habit of nicknaming his own children and the grandchildren, said he could never remember their given names, some of them being, Susie, Pete, Slim, Rooster, Runt and others, but finally one great-granddaughter was named Harley. He said he thought he could remember that one.
He was the best husband, father and grandfather a person could ask for. He loved his wife of 65 years with everything that was in him. They have five children: Julie (Bob), David (Linda), Allen (Sandy), Diane (Tim) and Gene (Lou Jean). They have 11 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, and six step-great-grandchildren, also a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Harley was proceeded in death by this parents, Ollis and Myrl, his sister Ila, his brother-in-law, Kenneth Randolph, and his two brothers, Gerald and Raymond; also Norma’s two brothers, and sister, son-in-law Ed Wood, and two grandsons, Carl and Jim.
The family of Harley Cressler wants to thank everyone for your words and cards of sympathy. They were really appreciated.