| April/May 2000

  • Memoriam

  • Memoriam

JOHN 'JACK' EDWARD VERSTEEG, JR. passed away January 5, 2000, in Bend, Oregon, after a short illness. Born October 20, 1934 and raised in Salem, Oregon, he had lived in Bend since 1996. Survivors include his wife Barbara, son Steve, daughter Connie Smith, and three grandchildren. He owned and operated the Salem Tire Service Store for over 20 years. He was a veteran, having served in the United States Air Force. He also served as a fireman and member of the Board of Directors with the Cloverdale Fire District. He owned and operated an antique store in Salem and was widely known for his collections and restoration of toys.

Jack was a charter member of Branch 15, at Brooks, Oregon, and Branch 9, at Grants Pass, Oregon. He served in Branch Officer positions for six years. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Western Antique Power, Incorporated, Great Oregon Steam-Up, for five years and also served on the Board of Directors for an additional three years.

Jack was elected President of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Incorporated, in 1976, a position he held, except for one year, until February 1998. Jack worked to build a creditable organization from one that was in serious decline. Under his guidance the number of Branches rose to 98 with nearly 10,000 members nationwide. The members, and their families, of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association will forever be indebted to him for his dedication and hard work in building an organization that has enriched so many lives.

This tribute to jack was written by Ruth Warnock, and was posted on the EDGE&TA website ( It is reprinted here with permission.

Last Monday night (January 3, 2000), Jim Triechler called to tell me that Asa Burton Sr. had died. I met Asa, a life member and chief engineer, at the New York Steam Engine Association in Canandaigua, New York. Asa, after 31 years' service, retired from the Lehigh Valley Railroad, had worked around steam engines and steam powered equipment, as well as been foreman of a track crew.

Tuesday night, Jim called to tell me about the funeral arrangements that included a request by the family to have a Lehigh Valley steam whistle blowing the signal for crossing and the signal for stop at the end of the burial service. Jim agreed to make it happen. I was to be the fireman; another friend picked up the whistle from a collector in the western part of the state. Wednesday, Jim and I unwinterized his 20 HP rated vertical (teakettle boiler). Thursday, Jim fired the boiler to check for leaks, and friend Tom Gannon arrived with the whistle and polished it.

Friday, Jim and I left Bath, New York, at about 9:15 a.m. for Honeoye Falls, the boiler on its trailer, a small fire to keep it warm, firewood in the pickup. At about 11:00 a.m. we arrived at the American Legion that was directly across the road from the cemetery, and set up behind the building. The local fire company pumper driver arrived minutes later to check if we needed water, lent us a radio in case we needed anything, and left. At noon Jim put on his suit jacket to attend the funeral service and I stayed with the boiler. At 1:30 Jim returned: I had 75 lb. pressure, we were ready for the tribute. At 1:45 a restored antique fire engine bearing Asa Burton, Sr., a life member of the Honeoye Falls Fire Department, escorted by marching firemen in formal dress uniform and led by a modern fire engine, arrived at the cemetery. The timing of the whistle signals was relayed to Jim via radio by a fireman at the grave, to a fireman at our location. A perfectly timed whistle signaled the end of the burial service.

Much time was spent for a tribute that only lasted about a minute, a tribute to Asa Burton Sr., who died January 3, 2000 at the age of 90. Really, the tribute started on Tuesday and ended with the whistle blowing.

Submitted by Henry P. Offerman, 7685 County Rd. 13, Bath, New York 14810.

HANS HOFFMAN, age 87, died suddenly at his home in Pitt Meadows, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, on December 22, 1999. He was born in Grandview, Manitoba, and as a young boy he moved with his parents to British Columbia. Hans was a skilled machinist, mechanic, welder, and radio repairman. His father and he operated a repair shop since 1934 in Pitt Meadows, where it still exists. However, shortly prior to his death he donated this wooded property and shop to the Pitt Meadows Heritage Society. Inside is the original machine shop and about 62 engines of all makes and sizes that Hans has restored over the years. He also did considerable engine work for the B.C. Agricultural and Farm Machinery Museum in Fort Langley across the Fraser River from Pitt Meadows, most notably magnetos and fuel mixers. One of his outstanding restorations was a 5 HP Manitoba (Monitor) engine, where he had to make a missing crankshaft and weld up a hopelessly frost damaged ball hopper. Other accomplishments were two hot air engines which he built and were displayed at every engine show. Another of his shop products was a rotary bucket trencher, which were widely used to reclaim low lying lands along the Pitt River. He also built a farm tractor using a 1928 Plymouth engine which still runs well today. Old radios and electrical appliances were his basement hobbies. Last summer, 'The Citizen of the Year Award' was bestowed on Hans by the town council. He organized the community's first fire department and converted a Model T truck to a fire engine. He also became the first fire chief. With his help I restored four gas engines but sadly Hans's help will no longer be available to me for the restoration of the remaining two. In the past year he was in failing health but still managed to keep up his usual pace. He is survived by his elder sister Freda and some kin in Germany. He will be sorely missed by all collectors in the Fraser Valley area.

Submitted by his friend, Ted Miller, 24909 112th Avenue, R.R. 1, Maple Ridge, BC Canada V2W 1J4.

On December 8, 1999, BRAD DADO, a thirty-five year old electrician, Local 176, Joliet, Illinois, passed away due to an accident at a Com Ed facility in Romeoville, Illinois.

Brad began as a young lad going to engine shows with his mom and dad. He had just purchased a 5 HP Lister upright and planned showing it at future shows. He went to many engine shows in the course of a year, at times entertaining the crowds with his dog, Sam.

It is not often for a father to write a memoriam for his son, companion and engine buddy. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife Pamela, parents Betty and Bert, and three sisters.

Submitted by his dad, Bert Dado, 33 Village Woods Drive, Crete, Illinois 60417-4341.

GUY LESTER CRAW, 101, died Friday, January 14, at his home in Red-lands, California, of complications of a brain tumor. Born January 13, 1899, in Newcastle, Colorado, he was a 26-year resident of Redlands.

He worked as a heavy machine and cable-way operator and a foreman for the Morrison-Knudson Construction Company for more than 35 years, building railways, dams and bridges all over the world, including Brazil, Tripoli, Libya, and Portugal, as well as in many U.S. locations.

He married Catherine Johanna Yoggerst in El Dorado, Kansas, in 1921.

In his retirement, he was an active community volunteer for the Redlands YMCA's Great Y Circus; he provided the flying trapeze practice site in his backyard, assisted with lighting and rigging, and was a recipient of the circus' Purple Heart Award when he broke his arm while working on some equipment.

He was a charter member of the California Early Day Gas Engine Tractor Association Inc. of Vista, and the Moose Lodge in Leadville, Colorado.

His granddaughter, in a graveside eulogy, said of him, 'You've been a gentleman and a scholar. Not a university-type scholar, no. You earned your education by living it. You could look at any piece of equipment or machine and figure out how to make it work. You would see a situation that needed fixing, and you'd come up with an idea that handled it...then you'd regale us with a delightful story about the whole thing.'

Survivors include a son, James L. Craw; three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Submitted by James and Larita Craw, 540 Alvarado St., Redlands, California 92373.

RAY SAGER passed away December 8, 1999 at his home in Burley, Idaho, following a courageous battle with cancer. He lived life to the fullest up to the end.

He was a building contractor for 45 years and left behind a lot of memories. When he retired, he and Hazel, his wife, spent many days and hours in antique shops.

He loved showing his collection of tools to friends, and old gas engines he found and restored, 85 at last count. He dearly loved to show them to his good friends and, as a matter of fact, to anyone.

With his passing, he will be missed a lot by his wife, family and friends.

Submitted by his wife, Hazel Sager, 11 Granada, Burley, Idaho 83318.


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