Darvin Cave Jr
A life well-lived is a precious gift of hope and strength and grace, from someone who has made our world a brighter, better place. A life well-lived is a legacy of joy and pride and pleasure, a living lasting memory our grateful hearts will treasure.
Dad was schooled, married, farmed, raised a family, retired and died in what was known as the Scotland Community in Lafayette Township in Keokuk County. Darvin Clarence Cave Jr. was born to Darvin Sr. and Pansy Pearl Garret Cave at the old Wilson place, 3 miles north of Harper on July 25, 1931. He would attend the Scotland and Van Auken one-room country schools. At Van Auken there would be five students: Dad, his sister Phyllis, and three cousins, Wayne, Phillip and Roger Garrett. He would later go to Kinross and graduate from Keota.
He would start farming with Grandpa Cave, work at Natural Gas in Harper, shear sheep and milk dairy cows, twice a day, seven days a week. No time off! Mike remembers the day Peach and Roger got married, it was minus-24 when they went out to milk.
Dad learned to shear sheep from Jess Page. For many years this backbreaking work was added income. At one time or another, each one of us kids would go help, wrapping the oily wool in bundles with twine and delivering to B.D. Duwa of Kalona.
When Dad found time, he would go hunting with friends at the Stony Point Coon Club with Normie King, Raymond Klein, Floyd Seaba, Roger Ulin and many others.
Our neighbor, Charly Van Fleet, was a mechanic and we spent a lot of time there. Dad was a good mechanic and I often wondered how did he know how to fix everything. Dad bought a 1947 Dodge school bus from Charly that had been converted to a camper. He would load us up and drive to McCains Access down at the Skunk River. The bus had a gas stove, fridge and bunkbeds. Even the ride down was a great adventure! We must have been pretty special to have our own camping bus in the '60s. When the bus returned home, it was a playhouse for the girls. The bus finally died and was towed to the river by Dick Baker and Ron Bombie, and sits there still.
Sammy Slate and his wife Joy had a store in South
English for 35 years. Dad would take us there for a treat and we could wander through Sammy's collection of guns, stuffed animals, antiques and rare objects. We would get a bottle of pop (10 cents) and a Dairy Maid candy bar. Kevin remembers he and Murray would have to wait in the car. Dad was afraid they would break something. Mike would take their treat out to them. Sometimes Sammy would take us to his treasure room and show us the really special collection, off-limits to the public. He also had huge boxes of potato chips Dad would buy and put on the back porch. He once brought home a 5-gallon White Mountain ice cream freezer. One of the kids would sit on top while another cranked so it wouldn't tip over. Best ice cream ever. South English had it happening back then!
The high point of every summer was the 4th of July Celebration in Kinross. Dad and Mom would pack us into the car and spend the day. Parade in the morning, pony rides, games, food, the tractor pull, and afternoon of baseball and spectacular fireworks over the ball diamond after dark. Chores before and after. It must have been an exhausting day for them. We also would take Sunday drives to the Skunk, Cuba Pits and the Dairy Queen.
Mom and Dad created an excellent Christmas every year. We would drive up to South English to visit Santa in front of Powells Store. Santa would arrive in the back of a pickup that looked just like Earl Seitsinger's mail truck! He would pass out brown paper bags filled with peanuts, hard rock candy and an orange in the bottom. Free candy and we got to meet new kids! There was also a drawing for a free ham!
On Christmas Eve, Mom and Dad would lock us in the bathroom while Santa delivered our gifts under the tree. The excitement in the bathroom was terrific. We waited for the sound of the hook and eye lock to come
undone. Knocking each other down, we ran to the tree to "rip and tear!" as we called it. One year there was no gift for Mike. He was so sad. Then, Dad told him to go look in the back seat of the DeSoto. There was his first BB gun! Dad knew he would recognize it under the gift wrap. We always had a great Christmas.
In later years, Dad would have a large garden of potatoes, onions and tomatoes. He would have quite the setup in the shop for his tomato juice canning. He loved his tomato juice. There was the annual squirrel hunt at the Hammes Bothers Sawmill, where he was revered for storytelling and cooking with Clarence Peiffer and hanging with the guys. His favorite quote was "I should have been a cowboy!" He loved his Westerns on TV, National Geographic, IPTV and Cardinals games. He played his harmonica for the grandkids, sat in the porch swing with Mom and had "church" in the shop on Sunday mornings with the guys. There must have been a lot of praying it lasted for hours.
Mom and Dad met and started dating in high school. They were married July 19, 1950, at the Little Brown Church and were together for the next 69 years until Mom passed Aug. 16, 2019. From a young couple in school to becoming parents of 10 children, they certainly faced many challenges. Dad was an excellent caregiver to Mom during her failing years. We were fortunate to have our parents at home until their time came. As Mom wished, they had a joint Celebration of Life event on Nov. 16 at St. Mary's Hall in Keota.
Dad was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Pauline; sons, Greg and Steve; great-grandson, Sawyer Springsteen; niece, Sheryl Shafer See; and son-in-law, Tom Wall.
Survivors include four sons, Mike (Mary Beth), Jeff, Kevin (Luann) and Murray (Kathy); four daughters, Kristi Sheetz (Rex), Anita Wall, Shelly Flynn (Bill) and Melinda Watson (Dan); daughter-in-law, Lori Cave; 18 grandchildren; four stepgrandchildren; 46 great-grandchildren; sister, Phyllis Shafer (Wilbur); brother, Francis (Shirley); in-laws, Dick, Gus, Gary, Jay and George Norenberg and Peachy Shifflet; and faithful beagle, Daisy Duke.
Our family would like to thank Lisa Hammes Uphold from hospice for her help so we could keep Dad at home.
It is difficult to know how much our parents contribute to our lives until they are gone. Thank you, Dad. You did more for us than you could ever know.
P.S. After the dust settled, it was time to clean out Dad's shop. His handiwork was everywhere. Homemade hide stretchers for furs, mismatched boat oars, minnow buckets, fishing poles from branches and old inner tubes he had patched for us to float around in the pond. There was the carefully hand-wrapped twine from making straight garden rows and bottomless milk jugs stacked together with a branch through the center hung with twine for next year. The huge meat saw he and Mom used to butcher pork and beef we hung in our very own walk-in cooler Grandpa Cave set up on the farm when he was in the refrigeration business. We were cool! Dad had bought us a pool table one Christmas and put it in this shop where all the kids hung out. We take so much for granted in our lives. We were exceptionally fortunate. Boy! I guess we had it all and then some! Thanks Dad, you were awesome!