Dale Kirkham

Memorial Website

This dynamo named Dale Bruce Kirkham was born the fifth and last child of Oliver George and LaVerde Bushman Kirkham in Lehi, Utah. May 24, 1925. His childhood was filled with opportunities to learn to work as his father taught him carpentry, farming, mechanics, and “handyman” type skills. His Salt Lake Tribune paper route was diligently and daily discharged for many years. The picture of Dale on his bicycle, pursued by his collie dog, Ringo, was a familiar one to many Lehians.

He graduated from Lehi High School, where he was active in athletics, music, and student affairs. He was a record-setting state trackman.

Dale loved the water and worked as a lifeguard at Saratoga Hot Springs. His love for swimming compelled him to enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943. His service in World War II found him at sea aboard a landing craft LCI 222 for his “19th. 20th and 21st birthdays.”

Brigham Young University was his college choice after the war. He graduated with a degree in accounting. He also took advanced business courses at Idaho State University.

An opportunity for a partnership in an auto parts store in Pocatello brought him to Idaho in 1949.

After meeting the love of his life at the Shanghai Cafe in Pocatello, Dale married Bodell Smith on May 29,1950 at the LDS Institute Building. Little did she realize the challenging and exciting adventure that marriage to him would be.

After purchasing his brother's business interest in the auto parts store they stated, Dale built his own auto parts company into a thriving entity and expanded to salvage later in his career. His business interests have included the new and used parts distribution. He started three salvage yards in Pocatello and a new-auto parts store and a salvage yard in Idaho Fails, all under the umbrella of Dale ‘s Auto Supply Co., Inc.

In 1973 he started Recycle Contractors Inc., headquartered in Pocatello, with branches in Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. This company recycled scrap metal and sold it to the steel mills throughout the west and in Japan. Dale was an early adopter in the recycling movement and was responsible for cleaning up the rural communities of thousands of tons of rusting scrap metal that littered small and midsize intermountain towns that had no where to send their waste metal. Much of it in those days ended up in rivers, ravines, dumps and junk yards until Recycle Contractors came along.

Sons Kirk and Rich also joined Dale in expanding the family business after completing missions, marriage and college.

As Dale was a child, his father boiled sugar in the intermountain area. This whetted Dale’s interest in the long vacant and idle Utah and Idaho (U&I) sugar factory in Blackfoot in 1984 which they purchased and developed into a thriving operation later selling it in 2015 after Dale's death.

Dale's other interests included heavy equipment, to buy, sell, and operate and real estate. Gemco, Inc. was the family real estate development venture which he enjoyed.

In 1991 Dale and his sons purchased the Garrett Freight Lines complex in Pocatello, which they renovated, redeveloped and leased to multiple firms creating a business park. Dale's business success and enjoyment have been more meaningful because his sons have contributed their efforts, dedication, and vision.

Always interested in the community, he has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce and served as a director. He served as Franklin Jr. High P.T.A. president. Locally, he was, for many years, an admissions’ advisor for Brigham Young University. For over 17 years he was a member of both the Bannock County Planning and Zoning Board, and the City Planning and Zoning Board. He was liaison between the two boards. Boy Scouting has received his support for over thirty years. Periodically he has been a member of I.S.U. Vo-Tech advisory boards. He was also a member of the Bannock Regional Medical Center Hospital board for two terms. He is a licensed pilot. His political affiliation is republican

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was always active and has served in many leadership capacities, including three different high councils, bishoprics, and bishop. For many years his ward led an annual cleanup effort and eliminated over 100 abandoned structures and dozens of unwanted trash trees. Currently also served as a stake missionary and high priest’s group instructor.

His pet peeves included abusive governmental intrusion, shoddy workmanship, pretense, indolence, dishonesty, casseroles, sweet pickles, lines, and clutter. His list of “likes” include motorcycles, the cabin, building and tearing down structures, physical fitness, clean cars, chocolate, soft shirts, the color red, harmonicas, meat and potatoes, band concerts, gardening, brahma bull riding, loyalty, swimming, asparagus, boxing, wheeling and dealing, grandchildren, flying, common sense, tomatoes, animals, driving, and his family.

His credo was that one gets out of anything exactly what he puts into it. He had a rare gift – either he only did things he enjoyed – or he enjoyed everything he did. A tireless workaholic, he believed that if one retires, he expires. He went to work the morning he died. Whatever he did, he did wholeheartedly and enthusiastically.

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Bodell Smith was born in Pocatello, the second daughter of Maud Bodell Jensen and Alma Gibson Smith. The family included three brothers.

She is product of the greater Pocatello school system, including graduation from Pocatello High School and the University of Idaho Southern Branch.

Always active in student affairs, she served as editor of the “Wickiup” at UIUSB. Requirements for her bachelor of arts degree was completed at Brigham Young University. Following her graduation she taught at Dixon Jr. High School in Provo. Graduate school followed this first year of teaching, at which time she returned to teach at her Alma Mater, Pocatello High School for five years.

The work ethic was taught to her early and she began at eleven to be gainfully employed working as a housemaid for the Hood Family. Her employment included maid at the Sunset Motel, secretary at B.Y.U. and at Challenge Creamery and an IBM machine operator at Garretts for six years. After her marriage to Dale, she left teaching and joined her husband in his business ventures, where she remained until her death.

A life-long member of the L.D.S. Church, she served in all the auxiliary programs, but admitted to favoritism for the young women, an organization in which she served in many capacities for 33 consecutive years.

Music has always been a passion and she has led her ward choir for nearly seventeen years. She was a member of the Les Belles Lettres Literary group since it’s beginning.

The American Cancer Society, American Association of University Women, and P.T.A. have all been important areas of concern for her. A graduate of the L.D.S. Institute, she continued to attend classes there and at Idaho State University long after graduation.

She was a member of both the Bannock County Centennial Commission and the Bannock County People’s history executive committees. She served as Regional Council Chairman of the Brigham Young University Alumni Association.

A special association she enjoyed was with her 1942 classmates. She was also an active member of the Republican Party.

She had certain dislikes, namely tipping, social security numbers, going to bed, getting up, waiting, paying property taxes, incessant wind, hard-lead pencils, liver, cats, dogs, ironing, and liberated women.

Her list of likes included birthday celebrations, reading, newspapers, football, BYU, lists, crossword puzzles, kaleidoscopes, sneezing, parties, republicans, writing, gardening, and good news. Her hobby was Christmas.

Three children blessed the Dale Kirkham home, Dale B. “Kirk” who married Jill Hoggan. They are the parents of Wendy Bodell, Dale Scott, Katie Christine, and Aaron Glen. Richard Dean Kirkham married Kathy Young and Michael Adam, Richard Christian, Kirk Robert, and Matthew Thomas are their children. Karol Bodell married L. Scott Stokes and their children are Steven Scott, Amy Karol, Elden Dale, and twins Julie Veda and Jennie Bodell. All three children and their mates have followed the lead of their parents and are Brigham Young University graduates. All their children were married in the temple.

Kirk and Richard worked daily alongside their mother in the family businesses until a few months before Bodell passed away from cancer. She battled the disease for over 10 years and finally scummed to its ravages on December 27, 2005. Even that last year she refused to miss Christmas.

Bodell was grateful for a rich and full life with friends and family. She tried to remember that to serve brings more rewards than to be served, that to learn requires study, and that to know people is more important than to know things. Her life was inspiring.

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The basis history quoted above about Dale and Bodell Kirkham and their family is published on page 673-674 of The Bannock County History, Volume III.  Bodell served as editor of the history at the request of the County Commissioners at the time these volumes were published.

Dale Kirkham 1925 – 2012

by Richard Kirkham, son

Dale Kirkham passed away February 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm.  His passing was the completion of life’s voyage.  He was a great sailor.  This is the story of how he died.

At about 8:30 am on February 8, 2012 Dad  drove past my house.  At age 86 he was anxious to get to work.  My wife, Kathy, had flute practice in the evening, so I was going to take my own car to work but then I saw him drive by.  So I called him on his cell phone and asked him for a ride to work.  We worked in the same office although he spent very little time in the office ever.  

I was anxious to tell him about the progress I was making on his War Diary.  We started the project together years ago to record the life shaping events he experienced during World War II.  I told him about the interesting letters he had written home to his mother and other amazing things I had learned about that very morning having to do with the last few months that he was in the Navy.  He asked me if I got his email about the B29s that flew out of Saipan during August.  He was also doing research on the War Diary project.  He  had sent it to me just that morning.  Neither he nor I could sleep during the night so apparently both of us were up, looking back at the events of World War II.  

“You have to watch the video.  It was just released by the government!  It's absolutely amazing watching those B29s take off and land on Saipan.  I was there!  I remember watching those planes fly over as they were headed back and forth to Japan!  I remember it like it was yesterday.”  Three times throughout the day he would ask me to please take a minute and watch it with him.  I  told him that I would watch it when I got home, for sure, but while I was at work I had to get the books taxes done.  There really is something about death and taxes I guess.  The sad part is that I got the books closed but I wished I had watched the video with Dad instead.

Dad worked in the office all day today.  He usually spent his time with my brother, Kirk and his son Scott.  They were in the conference room that day, setting goals for the company.  Occasionally he poked his head in to my wife's office where we were both working on closing the year-end books. We listened to him share with great excitement all of his plans and ideas for the day.   He said ‘If you want to “Get Where We’re Goaling” then you have write your goals down and work on them.  He was teasing me about the book I wrote by that title many years ago on the subject of goal setting.  He had his list of goals and he was getting a lot of them done and crossed off the list.  On his list he had an appointment with Colonial Funeral Home that he set up for Thursday at 2:00 pm.  He didn’t say anything to anyone but apparently he wanted to make some funeral plans.  As it turns out he got to Colonial Funeral Home a day ahead of his appointment.

At 5:00 pm I was in the office when he came back from Costco with his grandson, Scott.  He was finally going to do something about his hearing.  At 4:30 he told Scott that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to go back to the office.  When he came in the door of the office he told me that he wasn’t feeling well at all.  He was light headed and feeling dizzy.  He asked me if I could take him home.   I got up and headed to the hall where he was and he was obviously quite ill and very dizzy.  He walked down to his office and sat in his chair.  He began dry heaving.  The heaves got worse and worse.  I asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital and he waved me off.  I asked him if he wanted to lay down. He just waved me off again.  He was starting to sweat terribly. I knew something was not right.  After 5 minutes of trying to coax and cajol him into letting me take him to the hospital I finally just insisted we go.  Scott helped me get him to the car.  I could see he was really not feeling well at all.  Even though he walked down the hall pretty much on his own, we had to steady him. The longer and farther we went the less steady he seemed to be.  I was glad we made it to the car without a fall.

After loading him in the passenger seat I ran around to the driver’s side, jumped in, started the car, and headed for the hospital as fast as I could.  Dad rolled down his window as we drove down Garrett Way.  I called Kirk and asked him where he was.  He said he was in the shop.  I told him I was taking Dad to the hospital, that I thought he might have had a stroke.  As we drove I tried to talk to my father to keep him lucid.  “Dad are you all right?”  He motioned and mumbled but the only thing I could understand was, “Slow down!  Slow down!”  Every light seemed to take forever and the closer we got to the hospital the more worried I became.  I was very frightened.  When we got to the emergency room he couldn’t get out of the car.  He said, “I can’t do it.  I can’t do it.”  I rushed in and got a wheel chair and a man helped me move him over to the chair.  They admitted him and took him back to an emergency room bed where two nurses got him out of the chair and on to the bed.  As they striped off his sweat-soaked clothes, they asked me questions and I couldn’t seem to come up with answers.  What happened to him?  Does he have any allergies?  Does he take any medications?  What is his medical history.  The questions kept coming as they hooked him up to an EKG and I wasn’t able to do a thing.  In a slurred speech Dad said, “Headache.  Headache.” The doctor, Randy Fowler, finally came in, having reviewed his chart. He ordered Cami Taysom, our good friend and neighbor and the head nurse on duty, to give him 4 units of morphine to help him with the pain.

Once the morphine hit, Dad started to relax and for all intents and purposes, that was the last I saw of him.  He didn’t say any more to anyone.  He didn’t even seem to see us any more.  It was as if he was high up in the conning tower of his Navy ship gazing out toward the horizon.  I could see that he was starting to ‘check out’ as he always liked to say he would do someday.    I think he made a decision as soon as the morphine hit that he was done.  He didn’t want to fight the battle that would likely mean deep rehab, breathing tubes, and wheelchairs.  His blood pressure was very high, 213/170.  His heartbeat was about 73 beats per minute.  Kirk, Kathy and Scott all arrived about the same time.  

I wanted to give Dad a blessing.  I asked if anyone had any consecrated oil.  Someone found a vile and brought it in.  As quickly as we could I anointed his head and then Kirk sealed the anointing with a very brief prayer.  I can’t remember what he said, but I think he said that everything was going to be alright.  He said that Dad would respond to the Doctor’s treatment.  I remember thinking, “I’m not so sure about that.”  Kirk was very calm.

After we finished our the prayer, they rushed him into MRI.  They had waited some 5 or 10 minutes because another patient was in there.  The precious moments ticked by like centuries, but at least Dad seemed to be comfortable now.  His color was better. He was getting quite cold and clammy and I knew he must be chilly.  I took a blanket and covered him up.  Finally the MRI opened up.  They took him in and said, “We’ll only be about 3 minutes.”  We all sat stunned, looking at each other.  I was falling apart but Kirk announced, “I’m as calm as a summer morn.  He is going to be just fine.”  I wasn’t convinced of that at all.

About 3 minutes later Cami came back in the room in tears.  She threw her arms around me and said, “It doesn’t look good.”  I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about.  Wasn't he was fine when he left the room?  At least sort of?  The gurney rolled back into the room.  Dad was quiet and still. The Doctor said, “It's very serious.  He has had a severe stroke at the base of his brain stem.  We can do heroic things if you want us to try, but his chances are not very good.”  

What did he mean?  What was he talking about?  Dad was fine a few minutes ago.  I thought to myself, “Can’t you just do what you do here and make him better again?”  I finally blurted out, “Yes! Of course we want you to do heroic things. Help him.  Please!”  They didn’t really want to go the 'heroic' route and they tried to calm me down by reasoning with me. They got the neurosurgeon on the phone and after briefing him they put the phone up to my ear. I kept my hands on dad’s head, trying to comfort him.  The neurosurgeon droned on and on and told me how bad things were, that he was coming to the hospital but that surgery doesn’t go well for people in this condition, especially when they are over 80.  I asked him what he would do if it was his father.  He said, “I wouldn’t do it.  I’d let him go. I think his soul has already left his body.”  I looked down at my Dad.  What would he want me to do?  Every decision I have make in life I have asked myself, “What would my father do?”  Now I had to act for him and act fast.

While we were trying to make decisions, and wait for the arrival of the neurosurgeon, Dad slowly started slipping away.  His breathing became the characteristic agonal breathing that indicates that death is ripping him away from mortality.  With much denial and shock we watched him slowly pass away.  It was the second hardest thing I have ever had to do, right next to watching Mother die 6 years before.

I think it would be easier for everyone if our mortal bodies would just start to fade out when we die and then finally disappear altogether.  Instead, the spirit seems to slip away at some moment when we aren’t really watching, or even aware that it is happening.  I don’t know when Dad left us for sure.  I don’t know if anyone was there to meet him or not.  I don’t know if he did it the way he would have wanted to, although I think he did.  I just know that my heart was breaking so badly that I couldn’t bear up under all the strain.   Before long I was sore and rung out from crying. The room was filling with people who had dropped everything and to rush to his bedside only minutes too late to say goodbye.  His body was there in the room with us, but I think he was out there somewhere, perhaps walking through a grove of palm trees, carving his name in a log, or exploring the jungle that we call death just like he explored the islands of the South Pacific when he was a young man in the Navy.  He didn’t have time to be afraid of dying.  He lived with energy right up to his last breath. 

We all left the hospital and gathered at Kirk’s house.  Dad was taken to Colonial Funeral Home in the hands of loving friends.  He left a big hole in all our lives today.  I know that there is a plan of happiness.  I know that death is a part of that plan.

Happy Sailing Dad!  We will see you back at the harbor!