Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lois Heagle part of valley history

Hailey resident to represent city on Heritage Court

Express Staff Writer

Lois Heagle will be honored this month as a member of the 2008 Heritage Court. Photo by Mountain Express

Lois Heagle remembers the day in 1936 when the first Union Pacific Railroad trainload of tourists and celebrities were whisked through her hometown of Hailey, en route to the new ski resort of Sun Valley.

"I was in seventh grade," she recalls. "We all got excited and ran to the window to watch the train pass by."

The track into Ketchum had been used since Heagle's great grandfather, Ernest Cramer, moved to Hailey in the 1880s. Back then the train carried mining supplies and other necessities into the valley in exchange for ore and sheep.

"We didn't really go up to Ketchum until Sun Valley came," she said. "The big event for us kids was getting cleaned up and going into town to get groceries. We rode bicycles a lot. The people who had cars back then wouldn't just drive them around town."

Mrs. Heagle attended the University of Oregon and became a schoolteacher and world traveler, only returning to town in 1993 to care for her ailing parents.

This year, Heagle will represent Hailey in the fifth annual Heritage Court on Sunday, June 22. She serves many community organizations, including the Blaine Manor Auxiliary, the Ketchum chapter of the Philanthropic Education Foundation, and the Souper Supper soup kitchen at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey.

Although she was born in 1927, at the beginning of the Great Depression, she says it didn't affect her family very much.

"In some ways we didn't have anything to lose," she said.

One of the grandest willow trees in downtown Hailey grows in the backyard of Heagle's Croy Street home. It was a mere sapling when it was planted in the center of a picnic table by her father, Lawrence Heagle, in the 1950s.

Lawrence Heagle worked briefly as a pharmacist before bringing the first Ford automobile dealership to Hailey in about 1930. The antique Model "A" in the Hailey Historical Museum on Main Street once belonged to him.

Lawrence Heagle also served in the Idaho State Legislature during the 1940s and as Hailey's mayor during the 1970s. He and his wife, Julia, first inspired young Lois to travel when they went to the Caribbean and the Orient on business.

"Back in the 1950s, Daddy delivered a Ford Thunderbird to Bill Purdy in Africa," she said, pointing to tribal artifacts and carvings her parents collected during the trip, and now hanging on a wall of her exquisitely decorated home in Old Hailey.

The Purdys are a ranching family based 15 miles south of Hailey in Picabo. Bill Purdy lived in Nairobi, Kenya, after serving in World War II. He went on to found an advertising agency in Kenya.

Heagle has traveled to Saipan in the Mariana Islands, and to the Lake Country of northern England to visit her stepchildren and niece. She also has taken cruises with friends to Mexico and elsewhere. In September, she will join a group of lady friends going to Victoria, British Colombia, where they will take in local theater productions before traveling to Salt Lake City to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Heagle takes pride in the many students she taught during her 20-year career as an elementary school teacher, first at Ketchum Elementary, where Giacobbi Square is today, and later in Auburn, Calif., at the Forest Lake Christian School.

As one of only two students from her graduating Hailey High School class of 30 to earn a college degree, Heagle continues to help others attain a higher education. Her work at the Philanthropic Education Foundation in Ketchum contributes to educational scholarships for women.

"Just last week I was in Sacramento, Calif., when a young lady came up to me and asked, 'Weren't you my teacher in elementary school?'"

Mrs. Heagle kept up with many of her students over the years, attending many of their college graduation ceremonies.

"Now I think all of my students have graduated and gone on to live their lives, "she said. "But I still enjoy community service. The Souper Supper kitchen happens twice a week at St. Charles Church in Hailey. It is a place for anyone who is lonely or needy. You will not be turned away."

Heagle still enjoys the company of friends from her childhood in Hailey. Last week she met high school friend Rosie Mallory for lunch at the Blaine County Senior Center. Mallory was a switchboard operator back when Heagle helped to run the Hailey Times newspaper.

"I don't get into town as much anymore, with all the crowds, " she said. "But I do so enjoy knowing people here and having so many old friends."

2008 Heritage Court

The Blaine County Museum will honor a quartet of ladies this month as its fifth annual Heritage Court. Each lady was chosen for her longevity and commitment to her town. The new court will be honored from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 22, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. There will be a reception after the event, at which the ladies will "hold court" to meet their public.

The four ladies will ride in a vintage carriage in Hailey's Fourth of July Parade, Carey's Pioneer Days Parade, Ketchum's Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade and Bellevue's Labor Day Parade.

Sponsors for the event are Sun Valley Co., D.L. Evans Bank, Wood River Welding, Ketchum/Sun Valley Rotary, Hailey Rotary, Anderson Asphalt, Power Engineering, Mike & Irene Healey, Scott & Devra Mary and Sun Valley Title.

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