Murel's High School Photo

Murel’s High School Picture – Sweet Sixteen

Murel Hill Kay Deceased 4:58 a.m March 21, 2015

Murel Hill Kay, a lifetime resident of Teton Valley, Idaho passed away on March 21, 2015 at the age of 91. Murel was born on February 8, 1924 in Richvale, Idaho to John W. Hill and Ivy Dixon. She was one of ten children. She entered high school in the fall of 1937 and lived with a cousin and worked for room and board. When orphaned at the age of 16 she left high school to raise her family.

Faith and family were the touchstones of Murel Hill Kay’s life. During her 91 years, she exemplified the virtues of love and self-sacrifice and fought to preserve and nurture her family. Life was not always easy. Orphaned at 16, Murel became the caretaker for her four younger brothers and sisters and the manager of her family farm in Packsaddle Canyon. On September 14, 1940 in Richvale, Idaho she married Vernal D. Kay, after marrying Vernal Kay, she also raised her own seven children, inculcating in them the value of hard work and faith. Two of her sons and several of her grandsons subsequently went on Mormon Missions. Funeral services will be held on Friday March 27st at 11:00 a.m. in the Tetonia. Idaho LDS church.

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The Story of My Life
Murel Hill Kay

It was in the year 1937, January 4 and I was at school.  It was a cold gray day and the snow was coming down in big flakes and thick too.  A few of us eighth grader’s were out playing in the snow and generally enjoying it.  Our neighbor came driving into the school yard with a team of horses and a sleigh.   They went into the school house and feeling something was wrong a few of us kids went in too.

Mr. Jardine Was talking to my teacher who called me to them, saying, “there is trouble at home and you and your sisters are needed.” I said,  “it’s mother ! Yes, she is dead.”  They were all so kind.

It’s hard to grasp the meaning of death when a child.  My brother Melvin was fourteen and an invalid, I was twelve, my sisters Ivy Mae was nine  and one-half,  Lavina was seven, and Norma was four.  My baby brother Edwin had turned two years old just three weeks before.  But when we reached home and Daddy took us in his arms and led us to the bedroom where Mama lay in cold death, it penetrated to our childish depths.

She had been fine that morning, getting our breakfast, fixing our lunches, seeing we were all ready for school and bundled up warm for the mile and one-half walk to school.  She did the breakfast dishes, her usual housework, fixed Daddy and the two little ones lunch.  They ate dinner and she washed the dishes, went into the front room where Dad was sitting.  She asked him to help her prepare the Relief Society lesson for that week.  In less than 20 minutes our mother was dead.

A ruptured pulmonary artery at the age of 42.  Why had she been taken from us?  The mother of 10 children.  Melvin was the oldest at home and had been sick all his life since he was five.

My older sister Erma, here husband and baby came out to live with us.  They stayed that winter and part of the summer.  Wayne, an older brother also came home.  Then in July, when Erma and family left I took over the house work, cooking, washing, ironing, canning a little fruit.  I received help from the younger girls and supervision from Daddy.

I entered high school in the fall of 1937.  Staying with a cousin and working for board and room.  A few people said Dad was foolish to let me go when he needed me at so at home.  But he was determined that I should go if I wanted to.

I don’t know how he managed, doing the chores, feeding the livestock and taking care of his little bunch of sheep which he had built up to about 300 head.  He also had an invalid boy that he worried over and was up with many a night.

I came home weekends when I could possible make it and did the laundry and cleaned house.  Ivy Mae and Lavina, as young as they were shouldered a lot of responsibility too, trying to cook and what little house  work that they could do.

When Mother passed away Daddy wasn’t in deep debt.  They were just getting on their feet after the depression.  But, of course, without Mother to manage the house and family Dad couldn’t devote as much time to his sheep and cows.  There was not much money, we struggled along on clothes that good people gave us and food that wasn’t as properly prepared and balanced as it should have been.

In the summer we planted a garden, I milked six head of cows while Dad was with the sheep out on the range.  Canned fruit, vegetables, were few in those days.  Very little meat to had because there was no refrigeration.  But we were together and as happy as could be without our mother.  Dad missed her so terribly that he would have laid down beside her in the grave if it hadn’t been for his children.

I would come home from school every weekend.  Sometimes I could get a ride.  I would ride part way on the train and walk the remaining six miles, if school let out early on Friday or Thursday night and no one from our neighborhood was in town.

One Friday night I rode home with neighbors and Dad came down and walked home with me.  I was given a warning that night that Daddy wasn’t too well.  He panted and stopped to rest frequently.  In a month or so he complained of pain in his chest.  He started going to Doctors.  By spring when I came home from school for the summer Daddy was in bed.  In June he went to the hospital.

Now Dad was in the hospital and we knew that he was dying  of Carcinoma.  So I was left to make the decisions.

Because Daddy was terminally ill, our incapacitated brother Melvin became an issue. He had a long term illness and the county authorities stepped in and decided he – aged 18 years old –  was too much of a burden for us girls to care for. His paralysis was caused by a series of strokes that he had during the past 3 years. They received permission from Dad to take him to the Children’s’  Hospital at Nampa, Idaho.

The Sheriff took Melvin in his car accompanied by Aunt Harriet and myself.  My heart bled to have to come away and leave him there.  He didn’t want to stay.  The surroundings were strange and the people were strange too.  I’m sure they must have had to forcibly hold him down .  Would they feed him, tell him stories and baby him like we all had done. To this day I regret the sheriff taking Melvin away.  I knew that he died with a broken heart and I dreamed about it for years.

In less than a month Mr. Egbert, a dear understanding friend, brought out a telegram saying Melvin had died.  Why couldn’t we have kept him home?

My three younger sisters and baby brother were very close for it hurt us all.  Melvin had been so much a part of our daily responsibilities.  We had no money to bury Melvin so I had to go to the county and ask  for funds to get Melvin’s body off the train and to bury him.

Three weeks after we buried Melvin, we received a telegram saying our Daddy was dead.  After months of terrible suffering he was at peace, and he was with Mother.

All the pain and suffering he had to go through lessened the blow of his death to us older children, but the little ones suffered from the loss of their Daddy.  Even though we older girls had bestowed a lot of love upon them, they had been closer than ordinary because he had been their daddy and mamma.

This all happened in June and July of 1940.  Wayne, my older brother, left us soon after Daddy died.  He said, “too much advice on his behavior from friends.”  I was the oldest one at home now and I was just 16.  What would happen to us now?  We were orphans with a farm to run and a family to feed.  At Daddy’s funeral a well wishing uncle offered to take Edwin and one of the other girls.  Another offered to take another one or two of the other children.  Ethel, the oldest of the girls and living in Salt Lake City offered to take another.  I couldn’t stand the thought of them being separated and spread around the country like that.  After all they had been through all this together and I knew that Dad and Mother wouldn’t have wanted it either.