Castle Valley Comments
August 29, 2013
by Ron Drake
Aug 29, 2013 | 933 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The death of people that you are close to is never easy to accept, but when it comes suddenly and unexpectedly it makes it all the worse. Such is the case with the unforeseen death of our friend and neighbor Craig J. Hemsley, who died Thursday, Aug. 22 of cardiac arrest at the age of 69 years and 14 days.

Craig was cutting firewood with seven of his neighbors on the Pine Ridge area of the La Sal Mountains last week when he collapsed after felling a couple of dead-standing trees. The rest of the group was loading another truck with firewood until Hemsley was ready to cut his trees into stove-length sections. When people noticed that he wasn’t where he was last seen near the trees, they went to investigate and found him laying on the ground from an apparent heart attack.

Craig bought 10 acres of land in Castle Valley in 1976. He began building a shed on the property in July 2006, and other buildings a little later in preparation for his move to the valley from North Salt Lake City. He was a lineman for Utah Power for many years and later worked as a foreman for other electrical contractors in Utah and California. A job installing a new power line in the area brought him to Moab and Castle Valley, where he found two lots in the Castle Valley River Ranchos that appealed to him.

Since he was born in Salt Lake City on Aug. 8, 1944, he considered the number eight to be a significant number for him. His birth was 8-8-44 at 8 p.m. and the 44 also equals eight. His father, Ted Hemsley, a World War II B-24 Liberator pilot, was coming home on leave and considered being home for his son’s birth to be his 51st mission of the war. He missed the target by about six hours, however.

Craig has raced on the Bonneville Salt Flats, parachuted from airplanes before it was a fad, including a plane that he owned with partners, deep-sea fished from his own boat near the Western White House during the Nixon administration and participated in a variety of other activities during his colorful past. He also enjoyed building model airplanes and cars up until his death.

He leaves behind his cherished daughter, Roni, of California, two brothers, Ted and Lane, of Utah, his canine companions, Sweetie, Honey, and Duke, four feline buddies and numerous turkeys and chickens, all of which he had named and came to him when called. He developed many friendships in Castle Valley and Moab and he will be missed by all.

I’ll personally miss our meetings at the back fence nearly every day where we discussed local politics, county events and sometimes even some juicy gossip. Other times, we would get together with our part-time neighbor, Ric from Cottonwood Heights, when he was down, and enjoy visiting together. They would reminisce about the old days in Salt Lake City area since they were both born and raised there. There are no funeral services planned.

* * *

During the last regular meeting of the Castle Valley Town Council, the council members heard from Dr. Michael Duehrsson, a resident of the Day Star Academy. He was requesting funding from the town to help finance a class to train a proposed emergency medical response team in Castle Valley. The class would include members from the Castle Valley community and students and staff from the academy and would eventually be on-call to assist with local medical emergencies until a Grand County EMS ambulance arrives from Moab.

Much of the $10,000 needed to finance the class goes to Utah Emergency Medical Services for certification, textbooks and other mandatory charges related to the certification of the students. Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley wanted to table the issue until the town could contact other stakeholders beyond the town boundaries who would benefit from the service, for funding help.

A representative from the Grand County School District’s BEACON after-school program appeared before the council asking for funds to help support the program. This program involves providing academic support and activities to students to develop stronger students and promote better behavior. It also provides student support groups to enhance social experiences.

According to the request, a grant of $540 would provide gas money for a year, using a district vehicle, to bring Castle Valley students home from the after-school program. BEACON is also looking for volunteers to bring the kids home after the program, such as someone who might be heading home after work.

Mayor Erley said he would donate a month of his salary to see how the program works.

“If it helps one student in the valley to not break into someone’s home, it will be worth it,” he stated.

Council member Tory Hill jokingly made a motion to spend the mayor’s money but a motion was not necessary and the mayor will donate $541.75, his monthly pay after taxes.

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