Elmer Booth, an U.S. Army veteran of World War II, lived a short time in Jasper County before he got married and headed off to war. His daughter, Sharon Temple of Newton, only has stories to remember her fallen soldier.
The past for Temple was filled with heartache, but has grown to have a great sense of pride for the soldiers and veterans in Jasper County.
“I was just a baby when he was killed,” Temple said. “My biological mother didn’t want me and she wanted to divorce my dad. I was always told she wrote him a letter saying that, which was one reason why he let himself be killed because she wanted a divorce and to give me away. That is the story I was always told. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know.”
Temple’s grandparents took her in, raising their first granddaughter, but Temple only knew them as mom and dad.
“When I got to be in seventh grade, they told me the truth,” Temple said. “They told me of how my father was killed and my grandmother gave me a whole bunch of stuff that she kept about me. It never made the difference because my grandparents were all that I knew, but I was happy to know the truth and also sad to know that my father was killed in action.”
It was after receiving the news Temple began to learn more about her father. She met one of his brothers named Fritz. They have a continued connection since first meeting.
“After that, I began to learn more about him. I met one of his brothers,” Temple said. “I traveled down to their house down by Thayer, Iowa. His whole family is buried in a cemetery in Hopeville, Iowa. I have traveled down there many times and they came up to Colfax to visit me. During these trips, they would tell me stories about my dad that I was interested in. I wanted to know more about him, like what hobbies did he have, what kind of student he was, what was his favorite colors, if he danced and much more little things.”
Although Temple doesn’t tell her story often, many Jasper County Veterans have known it. Temple has four granddaughters, who attend schools in Newton. The Newton Community School District has created days to recognize veterans bringing in local veterans and recognizing those who have passed away.
“My granddaughter went to Aurora Heights Elementary School,” said Temple. “Her class was doing a presentation on veterans. I let her bring in the flag I have that is in a case filled with many memories about my father. The local veterans, who were in attendance at the event told my granddaughter of how great it was to have a veteran in their family. It was great to know the local veterans’ response to my granddaughter.”
Private 1st Class Booth was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in World War II. He was killed in the Saipan Islands in the Pacific. His legacy will be remembered by his family and local veterans in town, but simply put by his daughter:
“He was a great man.”
Staff writer Zach Johnson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.