Samuel Wilks

Obituary of Samuel Wilks

Samuel Wilks, 98, of Ontario, Oregon, passed away Tuesday, April 13th at his residence in Ontario.


Sam was born January 26, 1923 in the small northern Missouri town of Keytesville.  His mother separated from his father, Edgar Wilks, when Sam was just three years old.  At about the same time, he and his brothers, Bud and Jack Wilks were also separated.  Sam was put into the care of a family in Kansas City headed by Mr. Samuel Palmer who was a Union Army veteran of the U.S. Civil War. 


Young Sam remained in Kansas City with the Palmer family until he was thirteen. Then he moved in with his aunt, Thelma Hudson, also of Kansas City, and worked for Western Union delivering telegrams on his bicycle in the Plaza District.   


At the age of 17, in 1940, he traveled to Oregon to meet his father, Edgar Wilks, who owned a jewelry business there in the small eastern Oregon border town of Ontario.  


Sam quickly found employment with the Almaden Mercury Mine 18 miles up the Weiser River from the neighboring small town of Weiser, Idaho.  The mine was a project of the past president, Herbert Hoover.


After one year at the mercury mine Sam began training at the Department of Interior concrete laboratory in Boise, Idaho.   After his training, he was then transferred to the construction site of the Anderson Dam as a lab technician for the Bureau of Reclamation that was working on the diversion of the Boise River and the construction of the compacted earth and concrete dam there.


With the onset of WWII Sam found himself from January 1943 to January 1946 in Texas for army basic training and then on to the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippine Islands. 


After sustaining injury in battle and earning his bronze star, in 1946 Sam began civilian life, like his father, in the Jewelry business.  He did his training at the Kansas City School of Watch Making during the day and at night worked at the Hallmark Greeting Card Company.  


He moved back to Ontario where he partnered in the jewelry business with his brother, Bud.  Three years later he moved to Mountain Home, Idaho.   There he bought a store on main street where he operated Wilks Jewelry until his retirement, forty years later in 1993, when he moved back to Ontario, Oregon. 


Sam had spent a short time at the University of Oregon in 1951 on the G.I. Bill and later learned to fly small airplanes. After retirement for several years Sam took classes at TVCC and became a life-long student of history, philosophy and religion.  He moved to Sun City, Arizona for a number of years before moving back to Ontario to spend his last days.


Sam was married young in life to Clara Lacey of Weiser, Idaho for seven years.  After the divorce, years later in 1954, during his time in Mountain Home, Sam remarried to Loretta Harwood of New Plymouth, Idaho.  Loretta died in 1963 and their son, Mark died in 1984.  Sam was preceded in death by his parents, his two brothers and three sisters.  Sam is survived by his good friend and cousin, Norma Bowen of Caldwell, Idaho and by three nephews, John Wilks, Bob Wilks, Ron Wilks and many friends. 


Outside of his jewelry business endeavors, Sam liked to fervently follow and cautiously dabble in the stock market.  He was a member and volunteer in the American Legion, and also a continuous long-time member of the Ontario Elks Lodge since 1948.  Later in life, Sam became fascinated with history, human behavior and the study of the cosmos.   


Sam was able to travel much of the world, as simply a tourist in his retirement years, exploring and enjoying parts of Canada, the U.S., Europe and South America.  He enjoyed lengthy talks and travels with his friend, Tim Cables of Ontario, who will testify that his study of philosophy and religion served him well.  


Graveside services will be held at Mountain View Cemetery in Mountain Home, Idaho on Wednesday, April 21st at 2:00pm. Arrangements and Services by Lienkaemper Chapel, Ontario.    



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