Beloved husband of the late Betty Jo (nee McClure) Oliver. Loving father of Guy (Diane Hill) Oliver, Ballwin, MO, Linda Oliver, Glendale, MO, the late Drew (Marilyn, now living in Savannah, GA) Oliver, Beth (Gene) Powell, Kingwood, TX. Adoring Grandfather of Claire Oliver, St. Louis, MO, Brandon (Candice) Oliver, New Hope, AL, John (Meagan) Cooperman, U.City, MO, Brooks (Shelby) Powell, Princeton, NJ,; and proud Great Grandfather of twins Lucy and Brody Oliver, Fairhope, AL.; and dear friend to many.
Services: Visitation May 18, 2017, 1-2 pm, followed by services at Kutis Funeral Home, 10151 Gravois, Afton, MO, (314) 842-4458. Internment, Private, at Sunset Memorial Cemetery.
LIFE STORY OF HAROLD GUY OLIVER
Harold “Guy” Oliver was born in his family home in Pleasantvillle, Iowa, on Jan. 6, 1923, to father George and mother Mabel (nee Preston) Oliver. The youngest, by far, of four brothers, he was doted on, and given the nickname “Sweetie”, which he (reluctantly) carried with him until his graduation from Pleasantville High School.
His early life was spent in this small Iowa farming community, so small that there were no stop signs or stoplights in town. He had a rather idyllic childhood, always dressed in overalls and no shoes, fishing, playing with friends and generally getting into mischief.
This was an era of flappers, bootleggers (his eldest brother was one!) and barnstormers in bi-planes buzzing the country. He saw silent films become talkies; seeing Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Laurel & Hardy at the movies. It was a time of dance marathons, Houdini, the first ready-to-wear fashion, when a new Ford cost only $290.00.
Radios were the rage, and the only one in Pleasantville was a home-made version he built with his brother, and since they had the only radio in town, the townsfolk could often be found in their parlor, hovered around this amazing new gadget, hearing the news of the day.
Father George, was the town’s Railroad Depot Agent, from 1915-1965, retiring after 50 years of faithful service. He was a kind and gentle man who was a born gardener/farmer, growing all the vegetable for the family table, with his mother “putting up” jars of fruit, vegetables and condiments in Mason Jars to stock the fruit cellar for use during the long and cold Iowa winters. He even had a small orchard and his love, a rose garden which he tended with care.
His father had purchased an orange grove in Florida on land now occupied by Disneyworld. He decided it was time to sell, which he did, for cash, right before the crash of 1929. He kept this money in the safe at the Depot, and handed it out to most of the townsfolk during the depression, saying “just pay me back when you can”. He truly kept the town alive during that time of hardship.
Harold joined the Navy at 19, attending flight school and was awarded his wings, becoming a Lieutenant. He had met the love of his life, Betty Jo McClure, and proposed marriage on their second date, by writing “Will you marry me?” on the inside of a matchbook cover, over a restaurant dinner date. Her response was “how long do I have to let you know?” to which he replied that it had to be the next day as he was leaving in 2 days to go to flight school training. She must have already known her answer, because the next day the matchbook was returned with the answer “Yes” written inside.
His favorite story was telling of how he got his “wings” from the Navy one day and “got them clipped” the next when they were married. He and his bride moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he taught flight instruction to young fliers toward the end of WWII. There they began their family with the births of a son, Guy, followed quickly by the birth of daughter, Linda.
He began his career as a secretary for the Southern Pacific Railroad, rapidly working his way up the corporate ladder with his artful salesmanship and charismatic personality. He did all of this without a college degree, and became, in his last position, VP of Sales for the Cotton Belt RR, being transferred to St. Louis, and made his final home in Webster Groves, MO
It was at this time that his name suddenly became “Guy”, since his boss didn’t like the name “Harold”. When he found out his middle name, he said that it was to be his name from now on for business, and it just stuck. This position was one of too many moves to count, every couple of years or so. And during these moves two more children were added to the family with the births of another son, Drew, and then much later, in 1961, another daughter, Beth.
His spare time was spent pursuing many hobbies, including ham radio operating, with his call letters being K5VFB. Betty had to put up with his gear in the Master Bedroom, enormous towers attached to the house, and a giant antenna mounted on the back of the car and looped over to be hooked on the front. Yes, it was a tall car antenna. She never seemed to complain.
The first hobby though, as a very young man, was building and flying model airplanes, starting with U-control, and he even managed to attain a world speed record with one of them. Later he moved up to building and flying radio controlled (RC) planes, and when he moved to St. Louis, flew at Buder Park, in Valley Park, MO. With a group of his RC buddies, he was able to get the County to build an “airstrip” on the field they used for take-off and landings, which is still in use by today’s local RC enthusiasts.
Another passion was sailing, beginning at Harbor Point Yacht Club in West Alton, MO. Retiring at age 59, he and Betty, along with a friend, Rosemary Hardy, and daughter Linda, and grandson Brandon, motored down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. From there he sailed the Sandpiper across the Gulf, all the way to Naples, Florida, their new home. The Naples Yacht Club became the new home for the Sandpiper, where she was sailed happily and often in the Florida coastal waters, often to Sanibel Island.
Other interests included a lifelong passion for photography, taking amazing and quite professional photos of the lands they travelled, people, landscapes, and especially wildlife. His days of retirement were spent taking photographs, sailing, and playing golf. He played golf throughout the country, even making it to St. Andrews in Scotland, the oldest course in the world, established in the early 1400’s. He also finally managed to get his Hole-In-One, while playing golf with his son, Drew, when he was in his
An excellent writer, he has written his memoirs, a novel, and numerous articles for sailing magazines. He was a gifted singer as well, and it didn’t take much encouragement (actually none) for him to belt out ballads that were made popular by the “crooners” of the 1940’s in the Big Band Era. His favorite was Frank Sinatra, who he had seen perform as a skinny unknown kid, in an Iowa music hall. He was fond of saying that when Frank stood behind the microphone you couldn’t even see him, he was just that skinny. And he was here to tell anybody that would listen that the fainting and screaming of the girls was real, and it even happened that time he saw him perform, as an unknown, in that old music hall, in Iowa farm country.
He sang for the residents and staff of the residences he was in while back in St. Louis: first at Laclede Groves, then Provision Living, Mari de Villa, and finally at Meramec Bluffs. He sang his last tune, “I Left my Heart in San Francisco”, just a week before he passed away, peacefully in his sleep on May 11, 2017, with his son Guy and daughter-in-law Diane, comforting him