A Celebration of Life will be held for Elmer Cassady on April 23, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the Pierschbacher Funeral Home in Chariton. Interment will follow at 2:00 p.m. at the Van Meter Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa.
Elmer Burris “Hoppy” Cassady was born May 6, 1929, to Howard and Fannie (Lenze) Cassady. He spent his childhood three miles southeast of Adel in a big yellow farmhouse with his parents and younger siblings: Earl Gordon, Eldon Howard, Daisy Gertrude, and Charles Wyman.
He attended country school walking 1.5 to 2 miles to school every day. As a second grader, he moved to Earlham for schooling thereafter. His grandma and grandpa took all five children in following his mother’s early death in 1939 at age 26. Grandma Lenze taught all of them to cook, plant a garden, and to do laundry. Elmer had mastered cake baking and was just about to learn pie baking when his grandma died.
At age 15, as a strong, muscular young man, his first job was plowing corn with horses for a neighbor in Earlham. He worked from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for 50 cents a day. He harnessed and hooked up the horses so competently that the farmer wanted him to add milking to his daily routine. Not wanting to milk cows, Elmer told his employer that he didn’t know how and hoped that no one ever told him differently. He spent several years working for area farmers and became proficient in feeding cattle and hogs, and scooping corn (a full wagon each morning). If fieldwork was required, he went to the field. As a teenager, he had already established a strong work ethic.
In 1947, Elmer worked at a lumberyard six days a week hauling coal and lumber to area customers, for which he received 60 cents an hour or $36 for a six-day week. After turning 21 in 1950, he became a semi driver, hauling cattle to the packinghouse and earning $35 for seven days hard work. No stranger to hard work, he also held jobs at the local elevator and lime quarries, where he started as a driller and was later promoted to “powder monkey” blasting rock. He continued driving semis for another 14 years hauling cattle and grain. In his own words, “I was never out of work and never had to look for work. I was a worker of all trades and a master of none.”
In 1964, he began his career at Rock Island Railroad as a traveling machine operator. He went wherever they sent him to clean the cuts on the rails and change water channels that came up on the railroad grade. He traveled all through the central states from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska, and then through Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. He retired September 6, 1991, with 27.5 years of service.
In 1996, he rejoined the workforce accepting a position as a small engine repairman at Rod Wheeler’s Air Cooled Engines in Winterset, Iowa. That same year, he also became a caretaker for his good friend, Floyd Clark, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. Elmer later cared for Marie Clark, following her heart attack in 1998. He and Marie lived together until her death in February 2019.
Elmer was a caretaker for many during his lifetime and had a generous spirit and kind heart. He enjoyed bluegrass music and attended festivals regularly. Elmer and Marie spent winters in Arizona enjoying the warm weather, jeeping and four-wheeling. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed camping and fishing in Decorah, Iowa. He also enjoyed hunting in rural Iowa and thoroughly took pleasure camping with friends and family at Red Rock Campgrounds and Rathbun Lake. He left a legacy to family and friends of being honest and fair.
Elmer passed away peacefully April 11, 2022, at Kavanaugh Hospice House in Des Moines.
He is survived by brothers and sisters-in-law: Ed and Carolyn Duckworth of Chariton, Marvin and Dianna Duckworth of Corydon, and Velma Duckworth of Des Moines; brother, Wyman Cassady of Glendale, AZ; nephew, Larry Cassady of Casey, Iowa; his dearest friends, Rod and Laurie Wheeler of St. Charles and Audrey Montgomery of Chariton; along with other family and friends.
Elmer was preceded in death by his parents; a sister and two brothers; brother-in-law, Richard Duckworth; sister-in-law, Marilyn Cassady; his wife of 31 years, Darlene Cassady; and his beloved companion of 23 years, Marie Clark.
To send flowers to the family in memory of Elmer Cassady, please visit our flower store