Irwin John Jonas

With the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the events that occurred on that date, I thought I would make a special tribute to my Grand Uncle Irwin John Jonas.  He participated in D-Day and lost his life on 11 July 1944, just over 70 years ago, near Saint-Lô, France.

Irwin John was born the third child to the marriage of Lillian Coley and Joseph Nelson Jonas.  He was born on Friday 2 September 1921 in Thatcher, Franklin, Idaho, at 6:30 PM, although likely born in Cleveland, Franklin, Idaho, while the family made a go of farming.  The family could not make farming work and moved to Lewiston, Cache, Utah as his father took a job with the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad.  When Irwin was about 6, the family moved to Uintah, Weber, Utah.  Joseph was promoted to Section Foreman and the family moved to Ogden, Weber, Utah.  It was in this place that Joseph was accidentally electrocuted in 1932.  Afterward the family moved back to Richmond, Cache, Utah, Lillian’s hometown.

Irwin Primary Graduation Certificate

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The family moved around quite a bit and some of the children struggled with the moves and changes in homes.  The family lived in everything from a boxcar to a nice home in Ogden.  Joseph and Lillian were stern but loving parents, dealing with their own issues as well as with the children.

Irwin John Jonas

Irwin John Jonas

Lillian purchased a small home in Richmond with the funds from Joseph’s life insurance.  Lillian’s family helped raise the rowdy six boys, including Irwin, and youngest two girls.

Irwin Boy

Irwin continued through school.  He did not graduate high school, but at least made it a few years into North Cache.

Irwin High School Certificate

Here is a picture of Irwin at North Cache with Glacus Godfrey Merrill’s class.  Irwin is on the back row, third from the right, fifth from the left.  His brother, Norwood, my grandfather, is on the far right of the third row from the front.  You can see the other names for this photo here.

Glacius Merrill's Class about 1938 or 1939

Irwin Receipt

Shortly before his 18 birthday, 6 July 1939, Irwin enlisted with the Army.  He departed shortly afterward for training.

Irwin Jonas Departure

Unfortunately, the Army had a massive fire that destroyed most of the military records for World War II in 1973.

Irwin Jonas Guitar and FriendFamily recollect that he trained in the southwest as this picture also seems to show with the large cactus.

Irwin Jonas Target

He did make it to the rank of Sergeant in the Army.

Irwin Jonas Military

Irwin met Mary Elizabeth Popwitz at a dance at Camp McCoy, Sparta, Wisconsin.  They were later married 21 June 1943 in Winona, Winona, Minnesota.

Mary Popwitz and Winifred Perley

Mary Popwitz and Winifred Perley (Mary was Winifred’s Nanny)

Irwin wrote a Christmas Card home in December 1943 with the following photograph.

Irwin Jonas Christmas Card

Irwin was then sent to go overseas.  Irwin sent Mary to live with his mother in Richmond.  Mary gave birth to Robert Irwin Jonas in February 1944.  Irwin went to New York City in preparation for the D-Day Invasion.  At least that is the story told by family.

This following envelopes show Irwin was still in New York City in May and July of 1944.

Irwin Envelope 1944 May

 

Irwin Envelope 1944 Jul 8

An explanation could be the preparation for D-Day and not wanting to give anything away so they made it appear like it was in New York City.  Or it could very well be that he did not take part of D-Day and arrived after that date.  However, since he died on the 11th of July in Saint-Lô, it is unlikely he was in New York City on 8 July 1944.  Further that letter was dated 6 July 1944.  It was likely he was writing from France but marking the envelopes New York City.  At any rate, here is the single page of the postmarked 8 July 1944 letter.  You will have to click on it to read it properly, the pencil is hard to scan.  One of Irwin’s obituaries indicates he was sent to Europe in October 1943.

Irwin Jonas Letter 1944 Jul 6

Lillian received the dreaded personal visit from the Army in August 1944.  She received the following letter in September.

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The US Army determined to bring Irwin’s body home to the United States rather than bury him in France.   Lillian and Mary finally received Irwin’s body in late January 1948.  His burial took place 6 February 1944 in Richmond.

Irwin Jonas Obituary

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Robert Irwin Jonas continued to grow under the love and care of his mother and grandmother.

Bob Jonas Baby

After Irwin passed away, Mary moved to Preston, Franklin, Idaho near her close friend Colleen Andra who would later marry Irwin’s brother, Norwood.

Bob Jonas Young Boy

Through the family, Mary and Bob moved to Ogden to work.  There, Mary, Irwin’s widow, met Irwin’s uncle Art Coley.  Irwin and Art were born the same year, even though Uncle and Nephew.  Arthur “Art” Christiansen Coley and Mary were married 3 May 1946 in Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming.

Art and Mary continued to raise Bob as their own.  Two additional sons joined the marriage, Stephen “Steve” G and Ronald Gary.

Steve, Bob, Gary

Steve, Bob, Gary

 

Steve, Mary, Gary, Bob

Steve, Mary, Gary, Bob

 

Bob Jonas Boy

 

Bob Jonas

Bob, Janet, and Bobby Jonas

Bob, Janet, and Bobby Jonas

As of my writing today, Mary is still alive.  She lives in an assisted living home in South Ogden, Utah.

Bob and Janet Jonas, Mary Coley, Steve and Julie Coley

Bob and Janet Jonas, Mary Coley, Steve and Julie Coley in 2004

Cedar Creek

Abandoned Building South of Cedar Creek, Utah

Abandoned Building South of Cedar Creek, Utah

I found myself driving home from Utah a couple of weeks ago and I decided to take the less trodden path.  As such, I stumbled on this old abandoned building a couple miles south of the abandoned town of Cedar Creek, Utah.

I thought the pending storm and the distant Salt Lake made for a compelling picture.

Richmond, Utah Cemetery

I am writing some history on my Grand Uncle Irwin Jonas who gave his life shortly after D-Day.  I do not have a picture of his tombstone and I hoped to grab one this past weekend.  Let me tell you how disgusted I am with the condition of his tombstone!  This is in the Richmond, Cache, Utah city cemetery.

Here is a picture from 2009 of his tombstone.  Even the markings on the stone at that time show a complete disregard by the caretakers regarding driving over the stone and scratching it, very likely with their mower.  Notice how the top right corner is chipped and I am willing to bet it is from the same activity that marked it.  This grave stone was in good shape only a few years before this photo was taken and these were new markings at the time.  Unfortunately I cannot find that circa 2004 photo at this time.  Of course I complained to city offices.

2009 condition

2009 condition

It is quite apparent my complaint to the city offices fell on deaf ears.  Here is a picture of the same grave in 2014!

2014

2014 condition

Notice that the top of the stone is nearly all chipped away!  It is bad enough that portions of the cross on his stone have also chipped away.  Also, look at the nice king/bend in the American Legion marker on the top left of the picture.  This shows a complete disregard for the property of another and a disrespect for the dead and their family for which the stone represents.  This is a man who fought to protect Americans and died in France about a month after D-Day.  He was not buried until February 1948, nearly four years after he died in battle.  This is the grave of a veteran who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  Richmond is a fiduciary, a trustee, of these stones and must treat them with full respect and accord.  I cannot imagine this is allowed in many other cities in Cache County, not from my personal experience in most of the other cemeteries.  Somebody needs be held accountable for this damage.

I walked through the cemetery quickly in the space of about an hour and documented many more failures by Richmond in their care and maintenance of this grave.  It extends beyond just markings and chipping of markers which I will document at another post.  The members of the cemetery district should be held accountable.  The City of Richmond should hold them accountable, the taxpayers in this cemetery district should hold them accountable, and someone should put together a class action lawsuit to pay for these damages.  I would happily sign on.  Does the City of Richmond not see what is going on in their own cemetery district?  Inasmuch as the City of Richmond is condoning this activity, the mayor and council-members should also be held accountable.  Not only should anyone responsible be voted out or removed from office, there should be personal liability for the damages.  This is quite frankly disgusting.  Shame on Richmond City.

 

Wakely Retirement

Ivan Coley, Rulon McMurdie, Albert Wakely, and Jess Holmes

Ivan Coley, Rulon McMurdie, Albert Wakley, and Jess Holmes

EMPLOYEE RETIRES – Albert Wakely, second from the right, a Buhl city employee for the past 19 years, retired Thursday of last week at the age of 65 years and in recognition of his great loyalty and longtime work on the city crew, his fellow employees held a coffee hour in his honor at the city hall and presented him with a gift of a jacket.  Albert will receive social security benefits as well as payments from the State Employees Retirement fund.  He plans to do a lot of fishing, his favorite sport, in his retirement.  Pictured with Albert above are Ivan Coley and Rulon McMurdie, two fellow-workers at the left, and Jess Holmes, city maintenance superintendent on the right.  (Buhl Herald staff photo).

As you can see this photo has the date Dec 7th 1967 written on it.

A clipping in the collection of Colleen Coley Todd.

Ivan Stephen Coley (1912-1994)

James Rulon McMurdie (1912-1993)

Albert Nathan Wakley (1902 – 1982), I know, the name appears to be misspelled in the newspaper article, poor guy.

Jesse Charles Holmes (1906-1987)

Grandpa Ross and Aliza

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Milo and Aliza Ross, Great Grandfather and Great Granddaughter

Today I want to share two photos of Grandpa Ross and Aliza.  Grandpa was 92 then, but he was sure playing with two year old Aliza this day.  The generations can easily connect.  As you can see from the photo she was enjoying it.  He was too.

When it came time to say good-bye she was more than happy to give him a great big kiss.  He was happy to receive.

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Dentist Office #6 Slovenian Visit

Stepping back into what only seems yesterday but in reality is 11 years, here is a photograph of the roommates at Dentist Office #6 on Darwin Avenue in Logan, Cache, Utah on 17 October 2003.  Matjaž Marinčič had come to visit from Slovenia and stayed for a few nights.  With the new-found friendships, we snapped a picture.  Mark had visited Llubljana where Matjaž is from and it is from that friendship that he came to visit.  Good times.

Lane Blake,

(l-r) Lane Blake, Matjaz Marincic, Brad Hales, Tyler Elison, Mark Morris, Sam Allred, Paul Ross