On March 1, 2018, Iver Vernal Elg, encircled by his loving family left this earth due to causes incident to his age of 91 years old. It was hard to let go and leave his “little Joy,” his loving wife of 70 years (April 3, 2018), but he knew there was a glorious reunion waiting him with his heavenly family.
Iver’s first breath of life began on September 2, 1926, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was delivered by a midwife in his home and was a hefty 10 pounds. His mother and father, Elmer and Anna Elg, were so happy to add Iver, their 6th child, to the family. He had five siblings, Lawrence, Harold, Louine, George and Betty.
He was born during the depression years. His family found many ways to survive the hardships of this era. He would walk along the train tracks to collect coal for their heat. They would travel out to the lava beds outside of Idaho Falls to cut down cedar trees for fire in their stoves. His birthday present consisted of a slice of homemade bread with homemade jam. As he grew, he worked at the country store, in a bakery, in a bowling ally, and eventually ended up learning the roofing, lathing and plastering occupation with his father and big brothers. Everyone knew and loved them, and they became known as the “Swedes or the Elg Brothers.” They worked all over the intermountain west (until his retirement). In his teens, he spent a lot of time in West Yellowstone working at a little kitchen and also helping his brothers lath and shingle roofs. He used to say the roofs were “so steep they would split a raindrop.” While swimming in the Madison River, Iver was hailed to the bank by a kindly man who engaged him in conversation for some time. Before departing he asked Iver, “Do you know who I am?” Iver shook his head, and the man replied, “Why, I am Herbert Hoover, former President of this United States.” Hoover was the 31st president of the U.S.
Our father was born into a family of strong Swedish descent, and there were many cherished traditions. His life was full of adventures, many his mother didn’t even
know about. On several occasions, he and his friend successfully escaped from their school truant officer. His adventurous spirit did not spare him from a lot of broken bones, cuts and bruises. He had a band of friends that shared in these adventures; they were the Miller brothers, Burt Wellman, Bobby Thompson and Jackie Conner.
On November 10, 1944, Iver enlisted in the Navy. He was 17 years old. World War II was happening. It was a big decision to make, but he and his four brothers all joined. They were proud Americans and served our country with pride. He served his boot camp time in San Diego, California. He often talked of his best friend, Bobby Thompson, who had joined the Navy earlier and was killed in battle. That was a great loss to our dad.
He served his country well in the South Pacific. He was a Seaman First Class and piloted the landing craft to the beaches. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, he along with two officers and two other sailors walked into Nagasaki - an experience he never forgot. The war ended on his birthday, September 2, 1945, but he didn’t come home immediately. His ship was assigned to provide aid and assistance in Japan, China and other locations in the South Pacific. His ship was the LST 610 (a Landing Ship Transport/Troop and Cargo ship. He sent half his money home to help his mother and father. He was one proud sailor. The many experiences he had in the Navy stayed with him throughout his life, and when he started telling his stories about World War II, anyone listening were held spellbound until the end of the story. He never forgot them, and he never stopped telling them.
Dad was discharged from the Navy in 1946. After he got home, the Swedes got to work again with their lathing and plastering. After one year, he met a beautiful girl named Joy Johnson. He won her heart, and they were married on April 3, 1948. During the most precious years of there lives together, they were blessed with six children, Darri, Debbi, Dana, Van, Gina and Heather.
Not long after their marriage, Dad was not content until he owned his own home. Not only did he own it, he built it. He built it after long hard days at his construction job. He was so proud of it. It was during this time that Dad and his brother decided to buy a farm near Blackfoot, Idaho. We didn’t move there but spent hours picking rocks and getting the fields ready for planting potatoes. It was a challenging experience. A lot of work went into it, and Dad was always proud of George and his farm. Eventually, they sold the farm but never regretted doing it.
Dad was a master story teller. Besides his childhood stories and his World War II stories, he told story after story about his father-in-law, Fritz Johnson, his hunting experiences and his many fishing adventures. Fritz, we called him “pappie boom gun” loved our dad and always treated him like the son he didn’t have. They were always together when any hunting took place. Dad’s brothers were always there with him when it came to fishing. Dad made sure he took his family out in the mountains. There are so many memories of camping, fishing, picnics, and reunions. He had a lot of girls, he called them his “lilla flicka’s,” which means girls, and he always told them they were “ah sa vacker,” which means “oh so beautiful.” He made sure he taught them how to catch the big fish in his favorite fishing hole. Van, his only son, who he called his “pojke,” which means boy, got to go on all the trips with the men, and Dad taught him great skills as an outdoorsman. Their favorite fishing hole was No Tellum Creek.
As the family grew, we moved around, along with our sweet Grandma Elg. She was Dad’s mother. He called her his “little Swedish soap bubble.” She became a huge part of our lives, and she lived with us for 23 years. During those years, you could always find Dad in the kitchen stirring up a batch of ginny lins or buying just the right cod fish for his special feast of creamed cod fish with potatoes and boiled eggs in it. Then there was the potatis curve. When he was young, all the brothers would meet at grandma Elg’s kitchen and make the curve together. Later on in life, he would gather all of us in the kitchen to make potatis curve, which we ate with grape jelly, for a special Christmas tradition. Traditions were very important to our parents
His last move was to Boise, Idaho. Over the years, Dad continued to build his business and work on many significant construction projects in Boise, including the following: Boise Cascade building (now Idaho Power), Boise Towne Square Mall, Boise Airport, many schools, churches (including the Idaho Falls and Boise Temples) and Boise State. He was proud of his work and loved to take us to his construction sites.
All in all, when we sit around the table and remember growing up, each one of his kids remember that our home was filled of faith, laughter, forgiveness and love. He showed us how to love by the way he loved our mother. He was such a gentle, kind man. After dad joined the LDS church, Mom and Dad were sealed to each other and their six children in the Boise Idaho Temple, the highlight of each of our lives.
To this end, we wish we could share all those stories. You, too, would fix yourself on Dad’s twinkling blue eyes and never turn away until his story was done. He was such a good man, always wanting to help his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. He loved his neighbors and cherished their friendship. He would help a stranger. He loved to leave people happy. Two sweet words that stick in my mind are a treasure. Anytime he went visiting his kids or even to a doctor’s office, he would take off his hat, swing it in the air and say with a grin as he looked back….
“A u revoir!!!!! …Tack sa mycket!!!”.........
He was so endearing, a loving and devoted husband to his “little Joy” and a precious daddy to six lucky kids. He always said, “A sailor never dies, he just sails away.”
Dad is survived by his loving wife, Joy Elg, 6 children and their spouses, 30 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great-granddaughter. He was
preceded in death by his parents, 5 siblings and 1 grandson.