John Alan (“Alan”) Hochstrasser, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and caring and valued friend passed away on November 14, 2020. He left this life as he lived it, with dignity, grace and knowing he was beloved.
Alan’s arrival on earth was a celebration – he was the Boise, Idaho New Year’s Baby for January 1, 1932, the 5th of 10 children born to Chase Hochstrasser and Annie Catherine Hoopes. He joined siblings Max Hochstrasser, Alma (Lamkin), Dolores (Walters) and Bill Hochstrasser. Alan then became the older brother to Chase Lavonte Hochstrasser, Gerald, (Jerry) Hochstrasser, Jim Hochstrasser, Michael Hochstrasser, and Linda Hochstrasser Garner. His younger brother Michael had Downs Syndrome, and always held a special place in his heart.
Alan is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years, Carol Rose Koldewey Hochstrasser, by siblings Gerald Hochstrasser (Ruth) and Linda Hochstrasser Garner (Royce), and children Cheryl Dawn Conner (Vic Conner), Michelle Diane Morris, and John Alan Hochstrasser Jr. (Cindy Hochstrasser), along with 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.
The family gives special acknowledgment to the BrightStar and LightHouse home care and hospice providers for their exemplary service and care during Alan’s final years of life.
Alan enjoyed life as one of 7 sons and 3 daughters living in an area of Boise that at this time was a farmland, where the family raised the fruits vegetables, milk from their cows and livestock that comprised most of their food. Alan and his siblings attended school at a country school called Valley View and they walked to school each day. Alan’s favorite teacher there, Mr. Black helped instill in him a love of learning. Mr. Black and his wife also became good friends of Alan and his parents.
While he continued to enjoy high school, and particularly enjoyed playing the role of catcher on his high school baseball team, loved time with his siblings and worked hard alongside his brothers and sisters on the family farm. Alan milked cows since he was in the 4th grade when older brother Bill had late night ball practice. He continued in life to milk until his son was in 9th grade.
When Alan was 24, his father Chase passed away suddenly, which required him to work even harder than before on the farm and to become even more serious about the responsibility of looking out for the other siblings still living at home.
Alan graduated from Boise Jr College and moved on to Brigham Young University in Utah as a major in history. His schooling was not to be entirely completed, however, as health difficulties with ulcers required him to come home. In taking classes at home, he completed and electronics course from DeVry Technical Institute and his interest in electronics grew. He went to work for Moore Radio supply. In 1961, he and good friend Gerry Curry started an electronics parts store named “A-Gem Supply”. His business partner died suddenly in 1971. Alan ran the business and in 1989 his son Alan Jr. joined him.
Of the jobs he worked to earn money for schooling, one in particular involved working on the building of one of the largest bridges between Boise and Idaho City. For years afterward the bridge became known to the family as we remarked proudly at every passing it was “the bridge that Dad built.” He also did carpentry and even helped on the building of the first Albertsons.
Social Life and Marriage
We know from Alan’s own admission he was too shy and never had a girlfriend in high school – he came back from one of his high school reunions laughing but also blushing in embarrassment that when walked in, a girl that even went so far as to contact his mother begging her to “make him go out with her,” rushed over immediately and greeted him with a giant hug. He said he was as embarrassed and shy then as he was when she chased him in school.
Alan continued to work. One day a customer and friend had died suddenly of a heart attack leaving a young widow and two young girls. Carol Koldewey Stevenson was the young mother of two little girls, Cheryl and Michelle, age 5 and 1. He would leave them treats whenever he would travel through mountain home with deliveries. He ached for them and would quietly stop to help them out in any way he could.
With her two little girls, Carol moved to Boise and began coursework at BSU towards a degree in the subject she liked best -- English – a fine field of study in the current world of business, but much less of a straightforward path to a career in 1963, helped by her brother, Larry, who lived with the family during his own BSU studies and helped to care for the two little girls.
Alan and Carol’s friendship grew. The two little girls were delighted at the fun and attention from Alan. Eventually, Alan proposed marriage. Carol accepted – and what happened next has made family history. The day after the proposal, he drove Carol and the two girls in the Studebaker pickup he called “James” to the same hilltop lookout point where he’d proposed to Carol the night earlier. As they sat in the truck, he made a proposition.
“What if I came to live with you forever?” he asked. “What if I were to marry your mother?” As daughters, we were blown away – we were being proposed to as well! As Cheryl has laughingly noted in years’ since – we knew Alan as a wonderful man who came to see us and brought us presents. We had no idea he had designs on our Mother.”
The two chose and purchased the seven-and-a-half acre property in Eagle, Idaho that has become the Hochstrasser family homestead. There was only one complicating factor: Alan was LDS, but Carol was Lutheran, with the religious legacy going back for generations on both sides.
We will note, however, that Carol’s mother, Leah Griffiths, had been raised in the Church of the Bretheren. When she and Ron Koldewey married, that marriage between a descendant of Wales and a German Lutheran gentleman (and her conversion to the Lutheran religion) was an event of such magnitude, they eloped.
For Alan and Carol, however, they made a solemn vow that neither would attempt to convert the other. Privately they investigated religions together. They were married on the lawn of their Eagle property in 1966.
As a part of their investigations, Carol (and the girls) participated in lessons from the LDS missionaries. The endeavor was fruitful and Carol (and Cheryl, who by then was 9) to be baptized into the LDS Church in 1966. Alan and Carol and their family were instrumental to the church in Eagle area as it grew.
Another important event occurred also – the birth of John Alan Hochstrasser Jr. in 1968. The appearance of a third child was regarded by Cheryl and Michelle as a miracle of the universe. For some reason, even though medical science was decades away from the ability to know the gender of a baby in advance of the birth, we don’t believe it was ever considered that this new baby would not be a boy. In fact, we don’t think there was a girl’s name even considered unless our father was entirely teasing us, because he kept telling us as the birth approached and we went to stay with our grandmother and grandfather to expect to receive the phone call that John Alan Jr. had arrived.
Sure enough, Alan Jr. did arrive on June 18 to much fanfare as he was 10 years younger than Cheryl and 6 years younger than Michelle.
In later years Alan stayed and carried the family business forward while also caring for our father.
Cheryl has stated on different occasions that Alan Jr. has been one of the greatest blessings Alan Sr. has brought to our lives and has been an anchor of strength for our mother and father.
Life as a Business and Community Leader
Alan Sr. has been a model example through his life of hard work, courage and sacrifice as he cared for his growing family. In addition to maintaining and growing A-Gem Supply, he milked cows, farmed, and gardened to produce the majority of the family’s food. He was also generous with the family’s produce and noted he had married “the world’s most Christ-like person who would make sure that anyone who needed produce would get it.”
At work he has been long known as a pillar in the community. People continually come forward telling stories of how he would give merchandise from the store to children and to people who needed assistance. Constantly people continue to tell Alan Jr. that Caldwell will never be the same and that he has “big shoes” to fill.
He was financially conservative, saving up for each of the family’s major purchases, including a piano and piano lessons for the girls, a truck and camper, and karate lessons for Alan in cash. Beyond the family home and property, the only loan he ever took out was the mortgage on the company building, in Caldwell. Based on his track record, the bank extended the building loan on his signature. In typical form, the loan was paid back in advance.
Alan was thrilled for the opportunity to purchase property at Daggett Creek (a property adjoining land owned in part as an inheritance from father Chase, who’d purchased it a bit at a time by savings he’d made working for the Boise post Office). The new property contained a small cabin as well as easement to the family lot. He proudly named it “Mount RushNoMore” as the place he intended to spend his retirement. While formal retirement never came until his failing health required it, Alan enjoyed many days at the family cabin.
Alan was a wonderful father whose love for his children knew few bounds. In later years, as Cheryl planned the adoption of the first of her two Russian children, he faxed a sweet letter to Cheryl after seeing the photo of her daughter Nadia. He said, “This little girl reminds me of the two sweet girls I adopted at about the same age. They have filled my life with joy ever since and I have never looked back.”
As Alan’s health began to decline in the later years, Alan and wife Cindy and their family increasingly stepped in to continue and lead the business at A-Gem Supply, tenderly and with careful respect for the legacy Alan Sr. had started.
Alan Jr. remarked that while Alan Sr’s memory was fading and confusion set in, even then he kept detailed information – such as the location and price of a rare set of TV tubes were as vivid as the day they’d arrived. When one such set of tubes was rare enough to have fetched a high price, he reminded his son, “I know what I paid for those. There is no need to be greedy.”
As he increasingly needed to stay home, he spoke about the business and customers as if the encounters had happened that day. When the family gathered to cut branches that had grown too close to the house, he remarked “I need to get better to get back on top of these things!”
But as Cheryl and her family prepared to leave, he acknowledged quietly to Cheryl, “I may not be here the next time you come.” We had our opportunities to share our possible goodbyes and to express our love. But in his weakened condition he was able to live these 7-plus years more, sustained by the love and support of Carol, of Alan Jr and family, and for a three year period with support from grandson Craig as well, who had come to spend some time and support (and was richly rewarded by meeting his now wife Bailey Graham during that time).
As Carol has lovingly stood by Alan to provide near round-the-clock care from their home, she has been stalwart in her support, despite her own growing weakness. Many times, she has expressed what an honor it is to even somewhat try to repay our father for all of his years of work and support, as well as for the great legacy he fulfilled by taking on the responsibility of not only marrying her but raising Cheryl and Michelle as his own.
We can never repay our sweet father for his work and sacrifices on our behalf, his memory will be with us forever until we are able to be with him again.
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