Our beloved father and grandfather, Howell Calvin Bishop, passed peacefully at the Boone Hospital Center in Columbia with his son by his side on January 28, 2024 after a short illness. Calvin was born at home in Montgomery County to Howell and Minnie Harris Bishop on December 27, 1930. He had been a resident of the Missouri Veterans Home in Mexico (Audrain County) for one year.
Calvin was the youngest of the family and the only son. He and his sisters learned the value of hard work growing up on the family grain and livestock farm during the Depression. He attended a one room schoolhouse and his transportation to school was upon his horse, Star. It was there he got his first job, for about 25 cents a day. He was responsible for building the fire to warm the building before the teacher and his classmates arrived. After graduating from high school, Calvin moved to Mexico where he worked the summer on a highway construction job. Then, it was 1950 and the beginning of the Korean War when he and his roommates all decided to enlist together and join the United States Army.
In the spring of 1951 Calvin boarded a ship bound for Alaska, an overseas assignment at the time with the 196 Regimental Combat Team. He was assigned to the Mountaineering and Alpine Division and soon learned how to ski. He really enjoyed alpine skiing and got to share this joy with his children. The army had no knowledge of anyone traversing the Chugach Mountains in winter, so they tasked Calvin to lead a group of soldiers to do it, which he proudly accomplished. His lifelong army buddies had an annual gathering, meeting in a different location around the United States. As they were all getting up in age, his son and daughter-in-law were able to take him to attend their final-final gathering in 2014 in Branson. 2013 was supposed to be the last, but they were able to pull off one more.
In the summer of 1953, while on leave back in Missouri, Calvin met Jacqueline “Jackie” Murphy. She was sitting on the hood of her black four-hole Buick and he asked a friend, “Who is the gorgeous redhead?” They spent their courtship dancing in every dance hall or barn dance in the Montgomery, Audrain and Gasconade counties. Calvin’s next military posting was going to be overseas, but he was in love so he took an honorable discharge. The following summer they were wed in St. Charles on June 19, 1954.
Calvin then went to work for Jackie’s uncle, Jeff McClain, at his limestone quarry in Danville where he learned to operate a rock crusher. He and Jackie had their first child, Click, who was nearly two years old when Calvin headed back to Alaska. This time he was working for Green Construction as a rock crusher superintendent and thus began his more than fifty-year membership with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302, retiring in 1993. He was a proud union member and kept his membership current, even after retirement.
Sara was born to the family and whenever possible, they followed Calvin wherever his work took him. Calvin drove the ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian Highway) a countless number of times. His work was often remote, so they lived in a small trailer that was pulled behind the truck. When Calvin worked up on “The Slope,” he lived in a work camp while the family lived in Fairbanks. He worked all across Alaska helping to build roads, airports, the Moose Creek Dam and TAPS (Trans-Alaska Pipeline). His work took him far north to the Arctic, west near the Yukon River delta and Bering Sea, east to the Canadian border, down to Southcentral near Cook Inlet, even further south on the Southeast Panhandle near the Pacific Ocean and to many small communities and camps in between. If the work took him stateside, they always returned to Alaska in the spring.
In 1977, Green Construction sent Calvin to Saudi Arabia to oversee the crushing and aggregate production for a road job. After a year and a half there, Calvin was put on a plane in the dark of night and sent back to the good old USA. To this day, we don’t know what this farm-boy-at-heart did, or said, to have had to make such a fast exodus. But we knew beyond a doubt that he had no desire to ever go back. Never idle, if there was no work to be had, Calvin worked for his good friend, Harry Houf. In later years he worked for Pitt Miller, a family friend, in clay mining.
Calvin was a storyteller. His stories were often accompanied with sound effects and movement. He would get down on the floor if need be, just to make the story even grander. One of his favorite childhood stories to tell was when he rode his horse through town and was ticketed and fined for speeding. His dad, who guarded the little money they had, found an obscure law that allowed for looping through town if you were training your horse. The ticket was nulled.
He looked forward to his daily coffee klatch with the local farmers and missed that once he was no longer able to participate. His favorite team was the Cardinals and he enjoyed watching sports on the television. In retirement, he especially enjoyed attending the Montgomery City’s ladies high school basketball and softball games. They appreciated having him at the games to cheer them on, practically making him their team mascot. You did not have to see Calvin at a game to know that he was there, his cheering and encouragement could be heard throughout the gym. One of his sports highlights was when he was able to fly back to Alaska one winter to watch his granddaughter play high school basketball.
Calvin made his final trip to Alaska in 2011. He was thrilled to not only see his Alaska family, but to spend time helping his son work at his placer gold mine in bush Alaska. Calvin was definitely in his element in the dirt with Caterpillar equipment. Also in 2011, his daughter and son-in-law drove Calvin and Jackie to Athens, Ga., to attend “Earlfest,” a musical celebration of life for Jackie’s uncle, Earl Murphy, who was one of the last, true, old-time fiddle players. That would be the last of their traveling days.
Calvin was predeceased by his parents; his wife Jackie; siblings and their spouses Mildred and Bill Fipps, brother-in-law William Crouch and Barbara and Doe Fort; and two siblings who died in infancy. He is survived by his sister, Virginia Crouch of Missouri; brother-in-law, Bill (Sara) Murphy of Florida; children, Click (Darlene) Bishop of Alaska and Sara (Norm) Cohen of New York; grandchildren, Lori and Lisa Bishop, both of Alaska, and Jessica (Keith) Metcalfe of Switzerland; great-grandchildren Taylor, Kadence and Evan Brinkman, Basil Foxx, all of Alaska, and Maximus Metcalfe of Switzerland; and numerous loving nieces and nephews. The family appreciates Marvin Miller making Calvin an ex officio farmer of Buell Acres; as well as Calvin’s dear friends and neighbors who became extended family through their kindness and generosity which helped Calvin and Jackie live at home as long as they did. The family cannot thank you enough for visiting and checking in on them, sharing food, taking them to appointments, making repairs, building accommodations that made it easier for them to get in and around the house, taking Calvin for drives and so much more.
A military honor guard will be present at Calvin’s burial in the Montgomery City Cemetery in Montgomery City. Per Jackie’s request, her remains will be buried with Calvin. The family would like to request your presence at a celebration of life for Calvin on May 21, 2024, when all family members will be able to fly in and attend. Details will be forthcoming.
Memorials may be made to the Bethel Cemetery Fund: Bethel Cemetery, 117 Bethel Church Road, Wellsville, MO 63384, or in care of Schlanker Funeral Home, 207 Danville Road, Montgomery City, Missouri 63361.
Condolences may be left online at www.schlankerfuneralhome.com.