Jimmie Lee Hershey, born May 18, 1931 in Turpin, Oklahoma to James and Julia Hershey. He attended Turpin schools where he caused no end of mischief, including a small incident with an outhouse. He met the lovely Gaye Swan when she transferred to the Turpin schools after the closing of Greenough. They married August 21st, 1950 and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year. They made their first home together near Lyndon, Colorado, where they did subsistence farming and ranching. They lived in a home built to be a garage where the bed sheets would freeze to the walls in the winter. They heated their house and their food on an old coal oil stove. Their daughter, Sherri, was born in 1954. When she began to crawl they could track her movements through the soot and dirt on the floor. Deciding it wasn’t a healthy life for any of them, Jimmie moved his family to Strasburg, Colorado where he sold insurance for Farm Bureau. However, crop failures made selling insurance to farmers difficult. He went to Liberal, Kansas to apply for a job with Panhandle Eastern. They hired him and sent him to Elkhart. After a couple years he bid for a fieldsman’s job in Liberal, Kansas where he made his home until 1959 when he moved to Forgan. He started contract pumping on the side and bought a farm with his brother-in-law in the 1960’s. He retired from Panhandle Eastern in 1988 but continued farming and pumping wells until 2005.
Jimmie started the first Explorer Scout troop in Forgan. He taught his scouts many things over the years, including sharing his love of Model-T’s. His Explorer Scout troop was the only antique car themed troop in the nation. They worked to restore one of the beloved Model-T’s. When they got it running they took it for a test drive. Having no headlights, a scout sat on each front fender with a flashlight as they went for a spin down Main Street. Gaye and Sherri were at the movie when someone ran into the theater shouting “THE SCOUTS JUST GOT HI-PO’D”. The officer who responded to the scouts’ exploratory trip shouted, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE IN THAT THING? TAKE IT BACK WHERE YOU GOT IT AND PARK IT!” After the headlights were properly installed, Jimmie and the scouts took it to shows and parades all over the Oklahoma panhandle. Jimmie took the scouts on trips all over the country including the National Jamboree in Washington D.C. and the Explorer Scout Olympics in Phoenix, Arizona. In the 1970’s he started the tradition of taking the troop on an annual snow ski trip. Jimmie loved to ski in the snow and shared his joy of winter sports with his scout troop, daughter, granddaughters and their friends.
He was a Sunday School teacher for the teen class at the Forgan United Methodist Church for many years. He loved kids and was very much an overgrown kid himself, showing off his trains to his grandkids and great-grandkids every time they came to visit. Jimmie took the saying “Work hard, play hard,” to heart.
Jimmie was a great talker and always had a story to tell about his life, local history, and politics. He loved to laugh and a lot of his tales reflected his zest for life. His love for animals was clear from a young age when he adopted a baby skunk which he never de-scented. Something his brother, Dee, can fully attest to. After he (finally!) fully retired from paying jobs he threw himself into his gardening, supplying the entire town of Forgan with fresh vegetables, all they had to do was come pick them up out of the drive way.
He is preceded in death by his parents, James Arden Hershey and Julia Elizabeth Hershey (Javurek), and his brother, Dale Hershey. He left the mortal realm on September 15, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Gaye Hershey (Swan), daughter Sherri, Brothers Dee and Terry, sister Rhetta Rae; his two granddaughters, Katherine Juden and husband Adam; and Amanda Segler and husband Chris; five great grandchildren Isaac, Eli, AJ, Olina, and Daniel; and a dozen or so feral cats.