Harold J. Wasem, 95

Harold John Wasem was born on June 5, 1923, at the family farm, south of Fenn Idaho to Henry John and Alta Leona (Fortin) Wasem. From an early age his parents taught him the values of hard work, commitment to family and that personal integrity and honesty are no small things. Throughout his life he encouraged and nurtured these values in his children. Harold also learned at an early age, and passed along to his children, the belief that anything worth building – needed to be built “hell for stout”.

In his youth, Harold and his brother Glenn rode horse-back three miles to school each day. Harold began his early education at Highland country school. Later he attended school in Cottonwood, graduating from Grangeville High School in 1942. He studied at the University of Idaho for a short time until called home to help manage the family farm during World War II. Harold also served in the Army during War II.

Harold married Eldene (Rupe) Wasem on January 9, 1949. Eldene became his love and partner for life. After their marriage, they moved to Harold’s birthplace, the Wasem family farm near Fenn. For fifty years they lived on the farm and raised six children: Keith, Aurora, Nebraska (wife Julie, children Chelsey, Jana and Carter); Vaughn, Clarkston, Washington (wife Marcia, children Joe and Anastasia); Larry, Santa Rosa, California (wife Carolyn, children Philip, John and Elizabeth); Scott, Grangeville, Idaho (wife Audrey, children Ann, Joel and Brian), Sheryl, San Rafael, California (husband Michael Gorton, children Jonathan and Kelly); and Reed, Emmett, Idaho (wife Kristi, children Brandon Sedgwick and Jessica); and an almost-daughter Sharon Clark, Lafayette, California (husband Maynard Clark, children Mark, Jason and Alison). He is survived by 15 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews.

Harold spent most of his life working the family farm and spent countless hours contributing to the community. He was a founder of the Northern Idaho Farm Bureau and served as Chair of that organization for four years. In that role he represented the Idaho farmers’ perspective in the State Capitol as well as in Washington, D.C. Devoted to strengthening agriculture’s collective voice across the State, Harold served on the Idaho Farm Bureau Membership Committee. From 1964 to 1972, Harold was a member of the Idaho County Fair Board. For six of those years he served as Chairman. During his tenure, the main office was built at the Idaho County Fair Grounds.

Leading by example was a hallmark of Harold’s life. He was the Fenn Livestock 4-H Club assistant leader for five years, encouraging his children and other local youth to participate in agriculture.

Always an avid learner and student of history, Harold took an active role in sharing the County’s local history. He chaired the Idaho County Centennial Board from 1989 to 1997, as well as the Board’s Standing Committee. In that capacity, Harold delivered Eldene’s home-made cookies to the crew working to unearth the remains of the Tolo Lake wooly mammoth. In addition to delivery man, he was responsible for distributing funds raised for the completion of the mammoth project and the sale of the Idaho County Voices book: a collection of local stories from some of the County’s long-established families. Monies distributed supported Idaho County Libraries, Gem Team for planting trees in memory of Zona Chedsey at Eimers Park in Grangeville, Northwest Radio, Mt. Idaho Fort restoration, the purchase of seats at the Old Opera House in Kooskia and the construction of a Gazebo at the Idaho County Fairgrounds.

Harold will be remembered by all who knew him as an exceptionally good man who lived an exceptionally good life. Harold’s wife, Eldene, and six children were always first in his life. Eldene’s excessive energy and “we can do it” attitude required a wise partner to harness and direct; something Harold did with a calm hand and loving demeanor. Harold’s lessons will always be remembered by his children: live life honestly, give to others, especially those in need and unconditionally love with a steady heart.

Harold is preceded in death by his mother and father and two brothers, Glenn and Lloyd Wasem.

Harold departed this world on March, 21 2019. At his request, no services will be held. Following cremation, his ashes will be buried at the Denver Cemetery and The McComas Meadows. Send condolences to the family to

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  • Dan Willis says:

    Keith, We send our sympathy to you on your Dad’s passing. It sounds like he taught you some incredible life lessons! God bless. Dan and Jeri Willis (Aurora, NE)

  • Chelle Henderson Rosales says:

    My condolences for your loss. Harold was an icon of the prairie and will be remembered by so many. What a full life he had and much to look back on with pride. Cherish your memories.

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