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Friends Recall Memory of Vigorous ActivistThomas Wrausmann, staff writer, Alton Telegraph
|Friends are fondly remembering Fred Easley as a multi-talented man who devoted his time to many worthy causes and had a good time doing it.|
Easley, 74, a retired mechanic from Jerseyville, died earlier this month after a heart attack and stroke at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in west St. Louis County. The accomplished woodworker was a longtime member and past president of the Jersey County Historical Society.
He put his craftsman talents to work restoring the historic Gledhill house in Jerseyville, home of the society’s museum, frieds said.
The avid outdoorsman was Scout leader for Jerseyville Troop 59 for many years and originated an Indian dance troupe, among many other community activities. Friends said he loved to dress up in period costume, and for many years sported a homemade coonskin cap.
“The story goes that Fred saw (a racoon) get hit and went back and got it; it was fressh kill,” Gene Prosser, society president, remembered with a laugh.
In his later years, the colorful, bearded man was a familiar [sight] at area festivals that had to do with the olden days or American Indian culture, which he dearly loved.
“That’s the way he wanted to be remembered,” Prosser said. “That was Fred.”
He said the first time he met Easley was at a Boy Scout meeting where he was demonstrating authentic American Indian dance.
“I was most impressed,” Prosser remembered. “He was multi-talented, a man who could do almost anything.”
Easley also was a strong supporter of the Jerseyville Public Library and its woodcarvers, and he was an active member of the First Baptist Church in Jerseyville, the Jerseyville Moose Lodge and the Alton Senior Citizens Woodcarvers. He was active as well in the Jerseyville Masonic Lodge, shere he had held several offices, including past worshipful master.
He was born in Godfrey and, in 1943, married the former Yvonne Mathew at their Jerseyville church. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and sons-in-law and six grandchildren, among other relatives, including great-grandchildren and siblings.
When he retired, he was working at Sunderland Motor Co. in Jerseyville. For many years, he worked at Trotter’s in Alton, and he previously worked at Chuck Deering, also in Alton.
The society dedicated the regular meeting to Easley on the night of his visitation, and the museum was closed that day in his honor.
“We will open this meeting in honor of our dear departed past president and spark plug of this society over many years,” Prosser said at the meeting.
“His many hours and talents are greatly appreciated, and he will be missed, but remembered for years to come,” his friend said. “He had an important impact on the lives of many people both young and old.”
He pointed out that Easley was the second tremendous member the society lost this year. Roberta Daniels, considered the backbone of the society, died earlier this year.
“We’ve lost two outstanding members; they were real workhorses,” Prosser noted.
Easley’s funeral leaflet contained a Hopi Indian prayer:
“Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow;
I am sunlight on the ripened grain;
I am the gentle autuman’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight;
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.”