Neil Jerome Elmquist

Neil Jerome Elmquist passed away on Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Ridgecrest, surrounded by love.

He was born on the family farm in Wilcox, Pa., on Jan. 25, 1928. He was the youngest son of Edward William and Olga Florence (Pearson) Elmquist.

Neil worked on the farm until 1946, when he was selected for draft into the U.S. Army. He was on a ship headed to the Philippines when the first atomic bomb was dropped. The crew stood on deck wearing goggles and life jackets. He was awarded WWII Victory, Expert Sharp Shooter and Good Conduct Medals.

After returning home in 1948, he married his childhood sweetheart, Martha Vierling. They started their family right away welcoming “Little Neil,” the first of their four children. During this time he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Johnsonburg paper mill.

In 1949 Neil moved his family to Los Angeles. He worked many jobs including in the oil, dairy and furniture industries. During this time, the couple welcomed three more children.

In the late ’50s, Neil and Martha took an interest in the small desert community of Ridgecrest. They began the slow process of building a home (doing most of the work themselves). They retired and moved to Ridgecrest in 1976.

Neil was an honest, hardworking family man who enjoyed the simple things in life, especially spending time with his grand- and great-grandchildren. Papa or Gramps, as the grandchildren called him, spent many years babysitting, playing with and teaching his grandchildren, and they loved him for it.

Neil was a member of the Lawndale Masonic Lodge. He enjoyed gardening, birdwatching, his pets, reading his Bible, watching Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries on television and listening to bluegrass music — especially the music his brothers, his oldest son, and friends played and recorded.

He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers, Dale, Derwood, Harris and Roy; his eldest son, Neil; grandson Russell, and many other beloved family members who are sure to greet him at the gates of Heaven.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Martha Elmquist, of Ridgecrest; sisters Gloria Elmquist of Palmyra, Va.; Diane Mertz (Greg) of Spotsylvania, Va.; eldest daughter Meris Lueck (Doug), Hollis Elmquist and youngest son, Niles Elmquist, all of Ridgecrest; grandson, Jeremy Roark (Mary) of Nampa, Idaho; grandsons Jered Roark and Jerome Roark (Carin); granddaughter, Johanna Labiosa (Raymond) of Ridgecrest; grandson Zack Elmquist of Johnsonburg, Pa.; granddaughter, Mariah Dieker (Jody) of Ardmore, Okla.; granddaughter, Melody Elmquist of Johnstown, Pa.; 11 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

Whenever a family member or dear friend passed away, he would say, “Don’t be too sad, just remember that they lived a good life. There is no need to have or attend a funeral because the time to visit them was while they were alive to enjoy it.”

Dad asked that he be taken back to Wilcox, Pa. There will be no formal service. The family will have a private celebration of life with family friends at a later date.

— Submitted by the family of Neil Elmquist

Story First Published: 2019-04-19