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Letter: Remembering the old days at JHS

This past weekend, I was showing my grandson, Jacob, some of my old Joseph High School yearbooks.

Published on February 28, 2018 9:35AM



I lived in Joseph from the end of WWII (1945) until I graduated from Whitman College in 1958, and then went into the U.S. Army for two years.

I never lived in Wallowa County again as my 30 year career with General Mills moved Marlene, the kids and me many times, and I ended up retiring from GMI in 1990 and moved “out West” to California.

However, I have always called Joseph home as my parents, Ted and Eunice Newton, as well as my sister, Shirley Jennings, who passed away this last March, all lived up there and are now all buried up there in the Prairie Creek Cemetery.

I still have many thoughts about Wallowa County as my screen saver on my PC is a lovely picture of Wallowa Lake and my subscription to the Chieftain helps me keep up to date.

This past weekend, I was showing my grandson, Jacob, some of my old Joseph High School yearbooks, and in viewing the 1951 edition (when I was a freshman), I chuckled at the autograph of a senior Max Kiel: “To a Pal” with his signature.

Max was a good friend, and I wish I would have kept in contact with him better while I was at Whitman College. He was killed when I was a sophomore March 5, 1956, in a terrible accident while serving our country as a SeaBee in Antartica.

He and his D8 Caterpillar plunged into an undetected estimated 300-foot deep crevasse while running the lead dozer on a supply train. Two fellow SeaBees descended down to the wreck at about 80 feet, but Max was dead and his body remains there today 62 years later.

His father, Oscar Kiel, died before Max, also operating a logging bulldozer when he overturned on a hillside up Alan Canyon outside of Lostine, October 1952.

Max and Delwyn Zollman came to the school to notify Norma who happened to be in the gym with the other seniors getting their senior photos taken.

Supt. Bill Williams had asked me while I was in study hall if I would answer the telephone in his office for the next hour while he was in the gym with the seniors. I was briefed on what to say on the telephone and he went to the gym.

Max told me his dad was killed and he was understandably upset. I was told to go get Norma from the gym, which I did after I stopped a kid in the hallway and asked him to answer the telephone.

I told Mr. Williams in the gym why I had vacated the office, and he obviously understood, and quickly found Norma and walked her to Max and Delwyn, obviously not telling her what I knew of events.

It was the most emotional meeting I’d ever witnessed to that time when she was told of her father’s death by Max; I felt so exceptionally bad for both, and emotionally drained by day’s end. Norma, Max, and Delwyn weren’t just fellow students, they were good friends.

Both stories are tragic, and I have never heard of any other family having a father and son die in tractor accidents.

Ed Newton

Folsom, Calif.


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