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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

His name starts with a vowel... Ora

I treasure the memories I have with my grandfather. They are sacred to me. The following is one of my last with him...

Ora Cleve Hofheins

June 14, 1915—May 21, 1999

Amyanne Weaver Rigby:

In the blackened night

We buzz down the highway.

Nearing Grandpa’s house,

I whisper in Mom’s ear, “Let’s stop.”

Hesitating only a moment, she agrees.

Inside, I find him

in his bed cooled by the summer breeze.

“Grandpa,” I whisper, “It’s me.”

I kiss him on the forehead.

I know he is smiling.

He speaks little.

His worn hand envelops mine.

“I love you sweetheart.”

This moment is different.

He does not speak of his pain

or his death

he always said was going to happen tomorrow.

Together we listen

the crickets do the talking.

Grandpa is with his little girl.

And she finally did it- thanks mom for putting up with my gentle nagging- I love it when you share stories....

By Janet Hofheins Weaver

I sat on his lap in the old pickup while his brother did the driving. It was cramped as my younger brother was sandwiched in between the two men. I gently rubbed my hand across his hand and felt rough callouses. Those hands were such a part of this man—my father. Each callous represented the many hours he spent working on the farm in order to support his family. In my mind, callouses were a badge of manhood, and as I grew older I often thought that I could not marry a man who did not carry that badge. Always telling jokes, he teased me about my “bony bottom” as he shifted me into a more comfortable position on his lap. We were on our way to the field to haul hay, and if we were lucky and Dad had any money, my brother and I would be the recipients of milk shakes either now or on our way home later in the day.

Ora Cleve Hofheins was born June 14, 1915—the second child of John Michael and Martha Jane Morgan Hofheins. His older brother Irel (born May 16, 1912) welcomed him into the family, and as far as I know, they were very close. He also had a brother John Cecil (born January 23, 1917—died March 17, 1917) . A few years after my Dad’s birth the little boys were joined by a baby sister, Mattie. John Michael grew up in Levan, Utah, went to Beaver to visit relatives, and ended up staying and marrying Jane.

John Michael was a builder who specialized in bricks. Many of the nicest brick homes and buildings in Beaver were built by him. However, he never built a nice house for himself. While growing up I heard that it was because Jane thought it would be a waste since they were perfectly fine in the small three room house they called home. One room was built of logs while the other two were made of a sort of stucco. When Ora got married, he took his bride to that home while his parents, brother and sister moved across the street to be with Jane’s mother who was a widow.

Ora grew up with an outhouse and no running water in the house. As far as I can remember from the stories he told, he was a typical mischievous little boy. He watched his mother and grandmother make soap out of ashes, pig fat and lye in a big wash tub over a fire outdoors , dug potatoes from their potato patch and put them in the cellar. In the spring, he helped cut up the “shrinking” potatoes, making sure that there was an eye in each piece so that the pieces could be used for planting.

He often told the story of how his principal handled bullying in school (and I’m not sure but what it might be a good technique to use today.) It seems that there was one big boy who was always picking on the younger boys. One day, the principal pulled Ora to one side and told him that the next time the boy picked on him, he was to “beat the tar out of him.” Ora obeyed the Principal, and according to his story, there was no more

bullying from that particular boy. Dad also told us about “running cross-country.” The team would be taken up to the “B” and then they raced back to the school.

Dad never talked much about having fun, but he did work hard. When he was about 16, he dropped out of school to help Irel and his dad earn money for the family. Neither of the boys was particularly interested in becoming a brick mason like their father who was much older when he got married (John was 44 and 14 years older than Jane). John was in his late 60’s when his children reached their teen years and not in really good health. The two boys began working a little piece of land and saving to buy more land. When Dad was a teenager, he and his brother started hauling wood and selling it as well as hauling freight from Milford (where the railroad station was and is) up to Beaver. This was all done with a team and wagon.

Dad evidently was a fun-loving young man as was reflected by some of his stories as well as my memories of him when I was young. In 1938, he and some other young men on the lookout for a future spouse made it a habit to visit surrounding towns that might be having dances. Parowan, Minersville, and Milford were not considered too far away; so if there wasn’t a dance in Beaver on any given Friday night (or holiday), “the Beaver Boys” could be found in a neighboring town enjoying the music and meeting the girls. Dances were the main social event in those days. It was at one of these dances at the Brown Derby in Parowan that he met one Lucile Evans. His buddies bet him that he wouldn’t be able to take Lucile home after the dance. Always one to respond to a challenge, he took the bet.

While Lucile was dancing with Ora, several of his friends danced by and with chuckles and little smiles greeting him by him saying “Hello Bishop.” As the evening progressed, both Lucile and Ora danced with others. However, the “Bishop” moniker had impressed Lucile so that when Ora asked to take her home after the dance, she said, “Yes.” As the story goes, it seems that Ora was not always visible. By the time he approached Lucile to take her home, she had found out that not only had he offered to take several other girls home but had already done so. I guess you could say they had their first argument at that time. However, the charming Ora prevailed and not only took Lucile home, but continued to date her almost exclusively. They loved to dance and they reported that of the 14 Christmas holidays that year, they were at dances on 13 of those nights.

As the winter wore on, Ora seemed to find his way to Parowan as many nights as possible. One ploy he used was to tell his mother that he would go pick up Winnifred Smith’s laundry. (His mother did laundry for Winnie to help with finances.) This four block trip often ended with him finding himself in Parowan knocking on the Evans’ door. It seems he was in the neighborhood and thought he would stop by. Ha Ha! He spent so many evenings there burning up the wood to keep warm late into the evenings that he later got a big load of wood and took it to Parowan as replacement for the “courting wood” that he and Lucile had burned.

Lucile agreed to marry Ora in spite of the fact that she had found out that when his friends had called him “Bishop” it was because they had nicknamed him “Bishop of Devil Creek.” They were married in the Manti Temple on September 20, 1939. In that Manti was quite a distance from Beaver and Parowan, Ora didn’t quite trust his car (I don’t know what kind it was—I surely do wish that I had asked more questions and written

down the answers.) so he borrowed a car from his Uncle Charles. Charles Waters had married Jane’s younger sister Myrtle. A smooth trip it was not to be. The car broke down on the way, and Ora arrived at the temple with grease to his elbows.

The newlyweds settled down to life in Beaver in their little three room home—the same one described earlier. There seemed to be a lot of young marrieds in the town at that time and they became close friends with Seth Albert and Floreen Smith, Roy and Mildred Yardley, Earl and Mabel Smith to name only a few. Ora and Lucile were anxious to have a family, but it didn’t seem to be happening. Then on April 5, 194l, they got a little girl. That would be me—Janet. Dad used to tease me by telling me how he could hardly see out the windows because it was snowing so hard as he drove to Parowan where Mom had been staying with her parents because her doctor was there. He would then add with a smile that meant “I love you,” “and all I saw was a bald headed baby girl.” Mom had been told by her doctor that she should come to Parowan in early March, and everyone agreed by saying “The first one always comes early.” She was very impatient by the time I arrived (two weeks late and weighing 9 ½ pounds).

The rest of Dad’s story will be told through my eyes, from my memories and any memories that I can extricate from the memories of my siblings. Those siblings are: Edward Bernell Hofheins (born August 17, 1943, Joyce Hofheins Alsup (born January 10, 1945), Betty Hofheins Byrge (born February 20, 1948—died August 17, 1977), Donna Hofheins Schmid (born April 13, 1954), and Kent Evans Hofheins (born September 20, 1957).

These memories may not be in chronological order, but will be recorded as I remember them. Dad was a hard worker, but made work seem like fun. We all loved to go to the farm with him. When we were very young, most summer evenings we would find ourselves playing in the bushes by making play houses and making up adventurous games while Dad milked the cows and Mom kept the youngest baby in the car and read a book. It was about her only break from housework (cleaning, laundry, and cooking). If we ventured into the milking shed, we would hear Dad singing to the cows in time to the swish, swish, swish sounds made by the milk as it streamed into the bucket. If we got in real close to watch this amazing feat, he would joke with us and then suddenly turn one of the teats upward and try to squirt us with the milk. We would run away laughing and back to our game of “Cowboys and Indians” or pioneers.

When we asked Mom if she had ever milked a cow, she shared this story with us. When they were first married, she would join Dad in the task of milking the cows. One night she had worked really hard and had a bucket brimming with white foamy milk. Very proud of her accomplishment, she turned away for a minute and the cow lifted her foot and put it down inside the bucket, splashing most of the milk out and ruining the rest with the dirt and manure attached to the foot. Mom threw that milk into the cow’s face, marched out of the shed and never milked another cow. I’m sure Dad just laughed

By the time I was old enough to learn how to milk, the Hofheins Farm had more milk cows and electric milking machines which made the task faster and easier. However, I do remember a time when I was in my

early teens and we had sold most of the milk cows (Dad and his brother Irel had decided to put their money and effort into raising beef). Dad, Uncle Irel and Bernell had gone on the range to gather in the cattle. The one cow that was fresh (meaning she had recently calved and was producing milk) was taken to a neighbor’s who would milk her in return for the milk. That old cow simply wasn’t happy at the neighbor’s, so she got out of the corral (I don’t remember how) and came home. I locked her up and tried (with emphasis on tried) to milk her for the next three milking times. Between my long fingernails and the lack of strength in my hands as well as the wrong rhythm, I obtained very little milk—just enough to empty the udder enough to give the cow a little relief.

Dad wasn’t a religious man if you considered only his church participation as a measuring stick, but there wasn’t a man in town who was any happier than Dad when he would come home and say some young boy was going on a mission. I don’t know that he ever held a Church position, but he was always honest in his dealings. Sometimes he used his water turn as an excuse to miss Sacrament Meeting. (water was and is a very important commodity for a farmer) and he would say, “I can’t leave the water because the Stake President’s son will go steal it while I’m at Church.” I don’t know how much truth there was to that, but I know I heard it a time or two.

He could talk the leg off someone if they were conversing in a one on one situation or if he was telling his grandchildren stories—some true while some were probably embellished a bit. However, he was very frightened of talking in public especially in Church. When Bernell went on his mission to Switzerland, a Sacrament Meeting was usually presented by the family of the missionary—at least the mother and father both spoke and prayers and musical numbers were presented by family members. Dad asked me to talk in his place. He just couldn’t do it. He said he was too emotional. My husband Kimball was asked to give the closing prayer. Kimball won Dad over completely by pausing before praying and saying something like this, “We have heard a lot of good things today, but nothing from the good man who is largely responsible for Bernell going on this mission—his Dad. Ora is a good man who has a testimony.”

As I mentioned earlier, Dad was quite emotional. I saw him cry several times in my growing up years. He also had quite a hard time with his nerves and he developed ulcers. At that time the only thing that seemed to help him was Kinikinick (I have no idea how you spell that word so I just spelled in phonetically) Tea which was obtained from boiling the weed and making the tea from the water the weed was boiled in. I remember that nearly every autumn, we would go up into the foothills around Beaver and gather the weed. We would then take it home and Mom would boil it and then put the liquid in bottles in the fridge. I don’t remember whether she put anything in the liquid or not.

Dad used to worry a great deal about the weather, water, and the price that cattle were bringing. There were some really good years but many more bad ones. Winter and early Spring were hard on the animals and many of the young calves died. When this happened, Dad was upset and worried, but he would sigh and say, “As long as it stays in the barn we will make it.”

As a farmer, there was always work to be done, so there were no vacations—and only a few trips out of town. I used to pray for rain on the 24th of July so that Dad would take us to the horse races. That didn’t happen very often. Until I was a junior in high school I had only been as far south as St. George and as far north as Salt Lake.

One of the fun things I remember about Dad was: watching him run up behind our horse Babe, put his hands on the back end and jump up and land on the horse’s back. I thought for sure he must be a circus performer. When I was first married and we all went up to Ponderosa for a picnic, Dad could still do a back flip and land on his feet. My cowboy father was an excellent rider and broke colts to ride as they grew up. Dad had one horse named Satan that bucked every morning when Dad mounted him. I remember when I was very young watching Dad lead Satan up the street a block, tie Satan to a telephone pole, mount, undo the rope connecting Satan to the pole and then hang on until Satan quit bucking. After that the horse was fine for the rest of the day. The reason he had gone a block away was because it frightened Mom to watch the scenario, but she always went out in the street and stood where she could see it anyway. I never remember seeing Dad leave the house without kissing Mom. I always knew that they loved each other.

There was never a question in my mind but that my dad loved all of us very much. He was never a strict disciplinarian, but I do remember him being upset at different ones a time or two. Once when Bernell was on the horse and I was trying to walk from Grandma Hofheins’ house to ours, he (Bernell) kept turning the horse in different directions to keep me from moving. That didn’t make Dad very happy. Then there was the time I ran away from home down (2 1/2 blocks to Georgia Stapley’s house). I had been told I couldn’t go and so Dad came down after me in the car. I saw him coming and ran along the side of the road toward home. According to my memory, he had a small switch ready to encourage me on the way—however, he always denied that part of the story. Most of the time I was able to get my way with Dad, but one time when I was in High School, Dad put his foot down hard and I couldn’t get him to change his mind. I had been sick and had stayed home from school for two days. Friday, (after school was out), I had a sudden recovery and wanted to go to the dance at the school that night. Dad said “NO”, and no matter how hard I begged and cried he stuck with that answer. I think I might have gotten Mom to relent if Dad hadn’t been so determined.

As I approached teen-age years, I was unhappy and I guess a little embarrassed with the home we lived in. It was still that little three-room home in which Mom and Dad had moved into when they got married. By that time there were four children (Janet (me), Bernell, Joyce, and Betty). I knew that Mom wanted (and in my eyes certainly deserved) a new home. I heard them talking about it several times, but Dad always said, “There isn’t any money; we can’t afford it. At this time we did have running water into the kitchen. Our stove, fueled by wood also had a small attachment through which the water ran and became hot. That meant in order to have hot water and to cook meals, bake bread, etc. we had to start a fire even on the hottest days. We were also still having to go outside to the toilet—not fun and the Sears and Roebuck Catalogs were a far cry from the Charmin soft tissue we now use. I used to dream about turning the small lean to that held fruit and empty bottles into a bedroom for me. Joyce and I slept in the living room on the couch while Bernell slept in a bed and Betty in a

crib in Mom and Dad’s room. At one point in time I was so upset about the situation that I quit walking home from school with Georgia and told her (lied to her is more like it) that we were building a new home and that I had to go up to the house. “Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

One day when I was 12, I found a home on 100 East which was for sale. The price was only $4000.00. Knowing that Mom wouldn’t nag Dad about it, I excitedly told Dad about it at lunch time. His response was “No, we can’t afford it and besides Uncle (who never married) doesn’t have a new home.” He then promptly went back to the field to work. I was furious, and I knew that Mom (who frequently confided her feelings to me and often felt that Uncle (Irel) came first) really wanted something better than what she had. Dad was a good father and a good husband who loved his wife very much, but he didn’t seem to see the need for the modern conveniences. The more I thought about it the angrier I became. I walked over to the pasture, waded through the water, and caught our horse, (Spices—not a beautiful animal but fairly tame) bridled her and led her to a fence nearby so I could clamber aboard. Riding bare back (no saddle) and the hot sun did nothing to calm me down. By the time I reached our fields on the south end of town, I was steaming mad. Dad and Uncle weren’t there. I knew they would be coming back eventually, so I settled in the shade of a tree and waited. I was about to give up when they drove up in the pick- up. I had calmed down some and had managed to get up on my trusty steed, but tears still streamed down my cheeks as I yelled at both of them for about 5 minutes before heading for home. I have no idea what I said, but I knew I had been disrespectful, but I didn’t care.

As the sun was setting in the west, Dad returned home and said, “Uncle said to go look at that home.” Needless to say we did, bought it, and moved in shortly thereafter. Even though the white frame home was small and not fancy, we were thrilled. We now had a real bathroom with hot and cold running water, an electric stove in the kitchen, two bedrooms (even though one was very small) and a dining room as well as a living room. It was after we moved that Donna and Kent were born. We were in need of at least one more bedroom, but it was after I went away to college that Dad finally built on two more bedrooms.

Dad did love us and try to protect us. Just before I turned 16 I had my learner’s permit and had been driving some—especially down at the farm—Joyce went to a party and many of the others were going to a midnight show, but she didn’t want to. Dad was very tired since he had spent the last few nights irrigating and had spent the days working on the farm, so I volunteered to stay up and go pick Joyce up in front of the theater at midnight. Needless to say, I was a trifle nervous and I made a mistake of some kind on main street and was pulled over by the cop, Gordon Farnsworth. He, of course discovered that I only had a learner’s permit and no adult in the car with me. He followed me to make sure I went right home and gave me a ticket. I went into the house sobbing and Dad and Mom heard me. It wasn’t long after hearing my pitiful story that Dad had pulled on his clothes and gone down town to find Officer Farnsworth and tell him that he probably could have handled the situation with me a little differently. It was only recently that I found a letter labeling me as a juvenile delinquent. Wow! I had certainly forgotten that.

When I was a junior in college, I went home from BYU for the weekend and Bishop Kerksiek called me into his office and approached me about going on a mission. I really didn’t want to and told him I wanted to

finish college, get married and raise little missionaries. When I got home, I was sort of upset, wondering if I had done the wrong thing. Dad reassured me and then talked to the Bishop, and I was never approached again in that regard.

For the most part Dad always supported me in all I chose to do. He and Mom once drove from Beaver to Cedar in a big cattle truck (it was his only means of transportation at that time) to come to my poetry reading class (we had invited our parents) and listen to me read a three minute poem. He and Mom attended all of the plays I was in no matter how big my part was. I knew I could count on him! Once when a group of us students were traveling with a play, the gas tank on the truck which held all our scenery sprang a leak. Without any hesitation, I said, “If we can get to a phone (pre—cellphone days), I can call my dad. He will come and get us.” And I knew he would even if we were out in the middle of Arizona someplace. Luckily we found someone to fix it and made it back to Cedar ok.

Death didn’t always remain in the barnyard. In August 1977 my sister Betty and her two little girls were killed in a home fire. This was the most devastating event that our family had faced. It was especially hard on Dad since he and she had been quite close while Bernell was on his mission and after I was married. She helped Dad on the farm and taught Kent the things Bernell would have taught him had he been home.

The real game changer came for Dad on April 4, 1978. He and Kent were working on the farm and they were using an auger to dig post holes. Kent was operating the auger and Dad was following and kind of checking things out and according to Dad’s account (you can hear him give that account on U Tube Farm Safety, Beaver High School) he had gotten warm, taken off his coat and then later put it back on but failed to button it. The coat became caught in the auger and Dad was pulled into it. He was life-flighted to Salt lake where it was discovered that almost all of his ribs were broken, his shoulder was dislocated, and a lung had been punctured. It wasn’t until they were ready to release him several weeks later that they listened to his complaints regarding his neck and discovered that he also had a broken neck. He was very lucky to be alive and not paralyzed. However, an operation on his neck resulted in a staph -infection and a longer sojourn in the hospital. He was never the same after that. His nerves were bad and he was in a lot of pain. He had been a hard worker his entire life and really didn’t know how to do anything else. The older grandchildren remember him as a hard worker and one who was a lot of fun to be around. The younger grandchildren remember him lying on the couch or in his recliner and mostly complaining of his pain. For the next 21 years, Dad tried to do as much work as he could but it gradually became less and less and he passed away on May 25, 1999. His sweetheart Lucile (Evans) loved him and stayed by his side. There’s was truly a marriage that epitomized the sayings “for better or worse” “in sickness and in health.”

The grandchildren all knew that he loved them. He loved the boys and enjoyed working with them, joking with them, and teaching them, but each of his granddaughters was made to feel that she was special and she was his favorite.

The following are thoughts and feelings expressed by the grandchildren:

Wendy Weaver Roberts: “I always felt protected when I was with Grandpa as he hit the cattle on the nose if they came toward me. Even though he let me go to the farm with him and my brothers, he always remembered that I was a girl and shouldn’t be exposed to some of the things the boys took for granted. I could watch the branding, but when it came time to castrate the young bulls, I was put on the horse and told to go for a ride. Grandpa, his cowboy hat, and his truck is the picture I have in my mind as well as seeing him give Grandma a love pat on the behind as she went by.

I think every one of his granddaughters felt like she was his favorite.

The boys also had their special moments and memories of Grandpa.

Cleve Weaver shares a picture never painted: The sun slowly peeked its head over the mountains to the east and the rays glistened on the green pasture where cows lazily grazed. As the daylight broadened its scope, the shadows moved to reveal a large hayfield with neatly sculptured rows of freshly swathed hay running from one end to the other. A tractor stood at one end of the field as if waiting for the day’s work to begin.

Knarled, stooped, and a little shaggy looking, the elderly man shuffled toward the tractor. A quick check of the equipment showed his years of experience. Bending down, he fingered the winrows of hay still damp with morning dew. A satisfied nod seemed to say, “Just right for bailing.” Then hitching his levies up around non-existent hips with one hand and grasping the tractor seat with the other, he hoisted himself up on to the tractor to take his place in the center of the scene.

I, young and inexperienced, captured the moment in my mind and in my heart. My Gramps!

(I will add memories of the other children as I am able to collect them) Grandchildren, children and great grandchildren, If you have any memories to share, please email them to me at


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