Jack Cahill Steelsmith, Sr

Friday, July 6, 2018

Jack Cahill Steelsmith, Sr. passed away June 26, 2018 in Mountain Home, ID. Just as he wished, he passed peacefully at home surrounded by family. Jack was 86 and fought a long battle with CHF and Diabetes.

Jack was born May 19th, 1932 at his family’s home in Kimberly Idaho, to Herman Cahill Steelsmith and Leslie Emma (Glover) Steelsmith as the only son and oldest of 4.

He attended local Idaho public schools in Kimberley, Castleford, Fairfield, Boise (where he participated in ROTC). Finally, Buhl High School where he graduated in 1950.

While growing up he worked with his dad in the blacksmith shops and on the farm. On the farm he drove a team of Clydesdales. His father taught him about conservation of our wild resources and making every shot count as he grew up in WWII when rationing was in full swing. He loved building and flying model airplanes which he did throughout his life. He loved flying so much, that he soloed and got his private pilots license when he was just 14 years old. He owned and flew many planes over the years.

In Dec. 1951 he enlisted in the Navy as an Able Bodied Seaman. Onboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga he performed as an Air Traffic & Approach Controller, and Sniper, at Navy Memphis, he drove a crash truck and responded to the aircrews needing assistance. He was a flying crew chief on DC-3s and flew to many interesting places. As he loved flying, he would jump a military transport anytime he could and would always ask the pilots if he could “get some time in the front office” They usually let him. He also rented and flew civilian planes when he had the chance anywhere he was. He told us a highlight was flying a P-51D. If you want to know, ask us.

While in the service he Married Virginia Lee Farris in Twin Falls, Idaho Aug 8th 1954. He looked very dashing in his Navy Blues with the bell bottoms. He separated from the Navy in Oct 1955 and moved to Twin Falls, ID.

He and Virginia had 4 children, Jack C Steelsmith, Jr., James K Steelsmith, Gaye Lynn McClure, and Wendi Sue Alvey. They loved to go camping, fishing, and boating. He taught all of his children about the outdoors and how to shoot. They all learned to appreciate it just like their father. He was a mainstay in the kids activities. He attended plays, concerts, bake sales, softball games, wrestling matches, chaperoned volunteers at Herrett’s Museum and scouting events.

In the first few years after the Navy, Jack worked for Western Electric and rewired switch boards from Tucson to northern Idaho. He then did a stint topping trees on the Oregon coast, but the life insurance was so high he left and came back to Twin Falls. He used his GI Bill to buy the family home in Filer, Idaho in 1961. He raised all 4 children in Filer, where they graduated.

In Filer he started with Acme Machine Works as a welder. It was a field he knew well as his father owned several blacksmith shops and taught him to weld when he was just 7 years old.

While he worked at Acme he wanted to learn more so he moved on to learn how to be a machinist. He became so adept at it that Steve Herrett of Herretts Gun Stocks in Twin Falls hired him from his brother at Acme.

Jack then worked with Steve to design and build from scratch specialized semi automated machines. These machines turned wood blanks into handgun stocks. The machines he built are still in use to this day over 50 years later. A testament to the accuracy and quality of work he provided Herrett’s. He moved up in the machinist world becoming a tool and die maker. He was so good at it he got side orders from around the world to make parts that were no longer available. He loved the challenge.

He loved to shoot archery and small bore rifle as evidenced by his Idaho State Championship trophies in both disciplines.

He was preceded in death by his parents Herman & Leslie Steelsmith. His sister Rita Lovelady, and granddaughter Julie Lynn Steelsmith.

He is survived by his son Jack C Steelsmith, Jr., of Boise, James K Steelsmith (Carol) of Mountain Home, Gaye L McClure (Larry) of Twin Falls, Wendi S Alvey (Lonnie) of Modesto CA., and 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the War Memorial Hall in Mountain Home, ID on July 14th at 1:00 PM. The address is 515 E 2nd S. Finger foods will be served. Donations may be made in Jack’s name at either MH War Memorial Hall or to Wounded Warrior.