In Memory of

Robert William Estel
(1914 - 2005)

 
Photos Guest Book Hazel Estel tribute Expanded Text
Robert William Estel, 12/25/2001

Robert William (Bob) Estel was born June 13, 1914 in Fulton County, Ohio, to Frank and Mabel (Clifton) Estel. He passed away March 17, 2005 in Mesa AZ, at age 90.  

He grew up on farms near his birthplace, and attended local schools, graduating from Fulton High School in Ai. In 1935 he came to Pasadena CA with his parents, joining so many who looked to the Golden State during the depression.

In 1935 Bob and Frank went to work for Frankís boyhood friend, Roy Merrill, who was building a sawmill in the Sierra in Mariposa County.

After a brief return to Ohio, they came back to California, working in Pasadena in the winter, and at the mill during the rest of the year. In January, 1938 Bob went back to Ohio with the purpose of bringing his fiancť, Hazel Mason to California. They were married April 12, 1938 and one week later left for Mariposa, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

Bob worked in the sawmill until it burned in 1947. He then worked for short periods at other mills, gold mines, and whatever he could find, including defense work at Port Hueneme in southern California during World War II. In 1948 he went to work for a plumbing, electric and sheet metal contractor. About nine years later Bob and Hazel purchased the electric portion of the business, and Hazel started working with Bob doing the book work. They continued this enterprise for 20 years, retiring in 1976.

After that they kept busy with their family, many trips in the motor home, and other activities. For more than 20 years they spent winters in Mesa AZ, where a number of Hazelís cousins also lived.


Bob and Hazel were founding members of the Bootjack Stompers Square Dance Club, and remained active in the organization for more than 50 years. Along with other volunteers, he was instrumental in building the clubís new dance hall across from the fairgrounds in the 1960s.

He was also among the many volunteers who worked on construction of the Mariposa Senior Center.

Along with Hazel, Bob was active in the 4-H clubs of Mariposa County for a number of years. He was a member of the Mariposa United Methodist Church.

Bob is survived by his wife, Hazel; two children, Richard Estel of Fresno, and Linda Estel and her partner Anne Tellett of Duluth MN; two granddaughters, Theresa and husband Tim Liddle of Fresno, and Jennifer and Rod Neely of Oakhurst; two great grandsons, Johnny Upshaw and Michael Liddle; and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces.

A memorial service was held at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 26 at the Mariposa United Methodist Church. The family requested that any remembrance be made in the form of a donation to the church building fund.

Photos

 
Bob & Hazel, April 17, 1938 Bob at Merrill's Mill, May 1938 Bob & Hazel in their shop

Bob & Hazel in their shop

Bob, Christmas 2004
Bob & Hazel, April 17, 1938 Bob at Merrill's Mill, May 1938 Bob & Hazel in their shop 

About 2004

Bob, Christmas 2004

Guest Book (Comments, Memories and Tributes)

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My earliest memories of dad are when he worked at Merrill's mill. Every night when he came home, he would tell us how many board feet of lumber they cut that day. I'm sure I had no concept of what a board foot was, but I did understand his reports were a measure of accomplishment.

--Dick Estel (son)

 

One of my fondest memories of Grandpa is a day that he, Rod, Dad, and I went woodcutting on his property in Bootjack. He couldn't do as much as he would have liked, but he worked hard for a man in his later eighties. He was somewhat surprised to see that I carried my share of the workload, and he told my husband, "Boy, Jennifer's a good worker." When Rod related this to me at the end of the day, I was really pleased that a man with Grandpa's work ethic saw me as a "good worker!" We miss Grandpa's quiet, but loving ways.  

--Jennifer Estel Neely (granddaughter)

 

We'll always remember the good times we had with Bob & Hazel and the Merrills, Lewises, Sparks, etc.  

I'll always remember Bob's long left arm at first base on our ball team.

I'll always remember his dad, Frank, teaching me how to stack green lumber at Merrill's drying yard. He never did teach me to like it.

--Bill Elliot (friend from sawmill days)

 

I have some fond memories of working for your dad many years ago. It was also a great learning experience.

--Dan Raby (former employee)


I remember Uncle Bob as this wonderful soft spoken man who made me feel warm inside. Uncle Bob and Aunt Hazel were always present at the family reunions that usually took place at The Hall home in Poway, Calif. The Drefke clan would drive out from Michigan with their mobile tent and kids and adults alike would have the most wonderful times. Those reunions are my most treasured childhood memories. Uncle Bob was the patient one. He would always be there to help and once in a while with the gregarious family group he was in the middle of, he would throw in a couple of zingers. He had an underlying sense of humor that kept everything going. He was a man you could count on. I'm only sorry that as we grew up and went to far off places that I didn't experience more of him in his later years. He will be very missed.

--Mary DeFilio,  (niece)

 

Expanded Text

Robert William Estel

1914 Ė 2005

Robert William (Bob) Estel was born June 13, 1914 in Fulton County, Ohio, to Frank and Mabel (Clifton) Estel. He passed away March 17, 2005 in Mesa AZ, at age 90.  

He grew up on farms near his birthplace, and attended local schools, graduating from Fulton High School in Ai.

Bob and his parents, Frank and Mabel, came from Ohio to Pasadena CA in January of 1935, part of a great migration seeking work and warmer weather in the still-Golden State. Their destination was chosen because they had relatives there, Fred and Harley Estel and their sister Florence (Flossie) Estel Hemphill. The three were cousins of Frank and the children of Augustus Estel, a German immigrant who moved west from Ohio to California about 1910.

In Pasadena Bob and his parents stayed at Flossieís home. They played the part of tourists, going to the ocean, seeing the southern California sights, going to the movies, and enjoying warm sunshine at a time of year when they had normally experienced the snow and below freezing weather of northwest Ohio.

The Estel cousins were not the only people with Ohio roots that they knew in California. One of Frankís boyhood friends, Roy Merrill, had been in California since the mid-1920s. In 1928 he and Ruby had moved from San Diego to Mariposa, a tiny town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. On February 1st Bob and his parents headed for the Merrill ranch, about 300 miles north, where they spent a week, making their first visit to Yosemite. This was their first sight of the place where Bob and his future wife, Hazel, were to spend the rest of their lives.

During their time in southern California, Frank and Bob worked at whatever odd jobs they could find, such things as delivering hand bills. Mabelís diary for March 5 notes that they worked all day and made $3 each.

In April of 1935, Roy visited the Estels in Pasadena, on his way to Long Beach and San Pedro to shop for machinery. He told Frank and Bob that he was thinking about starting a sawmill, and if he did, heíd give them a job. (Bob had previously worked in a mill in Ohio, sawing custom barn timbers.)

On May 28 they left Pasadena early in the morning, arriving at Royís place about 6 p.m. At that time the Merrills lived in Bootjack, about five miles east of Mariposa, at what is now the corner of State Highway 49 and Silva Road.  

The men, including Royís two sons Marion (Molly) and Dean, immediately began work building the mill, a project that took about six weeks. The construction site was along Owl creek, at the 5,000 foot elevation, between Footman and Windlass Ridge, and the mill was often referred to as Owl Creek Mill.

With the mill in operation, some of the families moved into the little tent city that had sprung up in the forest. Mabelís diary notes that on Saturday, June 22, 1935, they moved up to Owl Creek.

On August 20 they moved into the cabin. While they certainly did not live a life of opulence in Ohio, it was far more civilized and settled than the wild Sierra of California in the 1930s. Mabelís feelings were probably best expressed by her entry of September 30: "Hip hurrah! Left Owl Creek at 8:30." Nine days later they arrived at her parentís home in Ohio.

Winter conditions in the Sierra Nevada required a seasonal shutdown, so throughout his career with the mill, Bob did something else in the winter. They made several trips back to Ohio, and in 1938, the ďsomething elseĒ was to get married to Hazel Mason. Immediately after their marriage in April 1938, they left for California, which became their permanent home.

The elder Estels remained in southern California, eventually settling in Ventura, where both Frank and Bob spent some time working in the defense industry at Port Hueneme during World War II. Frank did electrical work for most of the rest of his working life, while Bob returned to the mill, working seasonally for local mines and for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

This era came to an end when the mill burned down in 1947. The cause of the fire was never determined, although Roy suspected arson. However, in a site with several wood-burning steam engines, there were plenty of opportunities for fire, and there was no evidence one way or another.

Bob then worked for short periods at other mills, gold mines, and whatever he could find. In 1948 he went to work for Jack Messenger, who was a plumbing, electric and sheet metal contractor. About nine years later Bob and Hazel purchased the electric portion of the business, and Hazel started working with Bob doing the book work. At the same time, their close friends, Glenn and Helen Ballard, took over the plumbing and sheet metal business. Bobís Electric and Posey Plumbing were located in the same building for many years.

This was during the time when Mariposa county was going through a period of rapid growth, with many houses being built or remodeled. Because of this, the Estels made the acquaintance of nearly anyone who moved to the county, and many became life-long friends.

Bobís Electric continued for 20 years, until Bob and Hazel retired in 1976. A couple of years before that, they purchased a motor home, and began trying it out on weekend trips. They enjoyed this activity so much that it became the focal point of their vacation and travel activities after retiring.

For many years, they took their motor home to Ohio every other year, and spent the summer there visiting friends and relatives. They tried to take a different route across the country each time, so they could see the sights and visit people along the way.

About 1985 they discovered Arizona, and spent every winter there through 2005. Here they visited with several couples from Mariposa and three of Hazelís cousins who had relocated to the area.

Bob and Hazel were founding members of the Bootjack Stompers Square Dance Club, and remained active in the organization for more than 50 years. Along with other volunteers, he was instrumental in building the clubís new dance hall across from the fairgrounds in the 1960s. During their many trips, they enjoyed meeting and dancing with others who enjoyed this hobby.

Bob was also among the many volunteers who worked on construction of the Mariposa Senior Center. After cooking was no longer a joy for Hazel, they visited the center for lunch nearly every day.

Along with Hazel, Bob was active in the 4-H clubs of Mariposa County for a number of years. He was a member of the Mariposa United Methodist Church.

Bob is survived by his wife, Hazel; two children, Richard Estel of Fresno CA, and Linda Estel and her partner Anne Tellett of Duluth MN; two granddaughters, Theresa and husband Tim Liddle of Fresno, and Jennifer and Rod Neely of Oakhurst; two great grandsons, Johnny Upshaw and Michael Liddle; and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces.

A memorial service was held at 11 a.m. , Saturday, March 26 at the Mariposa United Methodist Church. The family requested that any remembrance be made in the form of a donation to the church building fund.

   
Photos Guest Book Hazel Estel tribute Expanded Text

 

Updated December 21, 2016