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July 17, 2019

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Life Story of John Astle
Written by his daughter, Sarah Astle Call, in 1953

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A sad accident occurred very unexpectedly to a son, Ernest. He with two pals was walking up Grover canyon one Sunday afternoon when a gun (a .22) was accidentally discharged by one of the boys. The bullet hit Ernest in the abdomen. He was fatally wounded and died the next day, 7 August 1911.

Father was a refined man in every way. He possessed that fine bearing and poise of an English gentleman. This he inherited from a long line of ancestors of noble birth and lineage. He was clean in his personal habits, almost to the extreme, if that were possible. He kept himself well dressed, his hair and beard neatly trimmed, his fingernails in good condition, and wore gloves for his hard work. His hair was of brown shade and not too dark, and his clear eyes were really blue. A fine looking person! When sixty years of age, he measured five feet eight and one-half inches in his stocking feet and weighed about one hundred fifty-six to one hundred sixty pounds.

Through the years to the great delight of his growing young families, he enjoyed participating with them in outdoor games and sports. How memory takes us back to the times we played Anti-I-Over and the rivalry that ensued to have Father on our side. It seemed he could always catch the ball as it came over the house. He would sometimes compete with his sons and also his daughters in jumping or running a race. He was surely fast in racing, and could outdo any of his sons unless it was Elwood. He had two daughters, Sarah and Sylvia, who were close runners-up, but of course we were only girls.

He was extremely opposed to ball games and sports of any kind on the Sabbath day. He, with the other fathers of Grover, made an agreement with the young men of the ward, that if the boys would refrain from playing ball on Sunday they would be allowed Saturday afternoon off for the game, and the men would play with them. The plan worked nicely and all seemed to enjoy it.

One thing he did love was to play marbles - out of doors in the summer time, or on the carpeted floor in the house during the winter. When he was over seventy years of age, he looked forward every evening to a game of marbles with his youngest son, Lee.

There isn't too much more to write from now until the end of his life as he was growing old, but his mind remained clear and alert until the trail was ended.

In later years, he spent considerable time in the Logan Temple doing ordinance work for dead relatives. He worked unceasingly until every "link" that he then had in the chain or line was complete. During this time, he made his home in Smithfield, Utah, with his son, Joseph Hyrum, and family. They assisted him in putting the records in order and preparing the names for the Temple. So far as Father knew at that time, the work was finished, and he decided to return home to Star Valley, the place he loved most.

Before leaving he seemed to have a premonition that this was his last trip to the Temple, that his life was drawing to a close. A very vivid dream came to him in the night, in which he seemed to be climbing a ladder, and continued going up, up, and away. He took the train to Montpelier, Idaho, and from there traveled by way of the mail truck to Afton where he stayed over night with his daughter, Violet. Others who made the same trip with him said they had never known Brother Astle to be in better spirits and well in a physical way, than at that time.

The next morning, he again traveled by way of the mail truck to his home in Grover. His son Alma saw him coming and talked with him a few minutes. Father told him he had come home to die. Soon after this his son Lee was coming home from school when he noticed the door was open. He knew Father had come home so he went inside, and there was Father lying on the floor with his head resting in the suitcase he had been unpacking. At this time he recognized his son for a moment and then lapsed into a coma. Aid was summoned immediately and all was done for him that human hands could do; but he never regained consciousness, but passed away the next day, 11 October 1919, surrounded by a number of his family. It was a peaceful death. We all felt, as did he, that the end of the journey had come when he expected it and was ready.

Gone home to family and relatives that he so dearly loved, to continue his teaching of the Gospel and to assist in any other labor the Father has assigned to him. We know that he will never shirk any duty or responsibility given to him, but as in life, valiantly carry on.

And so our earthly father has left us for a time, expecting his children and grandchildren to the latest generation to go forward in the life work he commenced, leaving with us fond memories of his integrity and worthy life - never asking anyone of us to do anything he would not do himself. May he not be disappointed in us!

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