I write this to the best of my recollection.
When he was around 16 years old, Uncle Herman ‘ran away’ from home. He did not return to see his family until 25 years later where we then learned that he had gone to Canada and there had married and had a large family. The state-side family has never met most of his children.
One day a wedding invitation came for Clarence Edward Froese and Irma Murial Wilderman's upcoming wedding on September 19th 1959, one of Uncle Herman’s son's, inviting the state-side families to the wedding. It was also nearing the time for the General Conference of the United Pentecostal Church to be hosted in St Louis Mo at the Keil Auditorium.
Uncle Carl was a licensed pilot so thinking that they could make the trip to Canada and back in quicker time by flying, he suggested they fly up to the wedding. He would rent a small plane, and could take 3 others along with him. Grandma (Rosine) Froese decided to go along with Aunt Marie Tekniepe and Aunt Hilda Simpkins. The only hitch was Aunt Marie, who was a private nurse in Chicago, was caring for a patient who was very ill and possibly would pass before the time to leave. However as time was drawing near to departure, the patient continued to survive so Aunt Marie called my Dad, Paul, and asked him to be ready to go if her patient still needed her. Dad prepared for the trip. However, just days before the time to depart, Aunt Marie’s patient passed away. Now she was back on schedule for the trip.
They made the trip to Vancouver but arrived too late for the wedding. They visited with the family before boarding the plane for their return flight. At a fueling stop, they were advised that there was a sever snow storm ahead and maybe they should wait out the storm, delay their flight. Uncle Carl thought he would be able to make it through the storm so they departed the airport.
Meanwhile, Paul and family were just coming out of the afternoon service at the conference on September 24, 1959 when authorities paged Dad and informed him that the plane was missing. We were looking for Uncle Carl to be at the conference.
Their flight must have gone through a terrible blizzard. It crashed into the side of a mountain in Idaho. The plane was buried so deep that it was not able to be spotted until 5 years later when the snow began melting. A forest fire patrol pilot noticed the tail of a crashed plane as he was flying overhead. The plane had crashed into the rugged mountainside of Kelly’s Finger Mt, Idaho. By comparing the numbers on the tail of the plane with the numbers of the missing plane, he was able to identify the plane as the one that was lost in flight 5 years earlier.
Uncle Roy Simpkins, Bob Rodenbush, Dad (Paul), and Teddy Simpkins drove to the site of the accident and had prayer there on the mountain. They found bones, broaches, teeth, and Uncle Carl’s wallet which contained his pilot’s license and money, all still intact. They brought home items from the accident and gave them to the involved family members. The authorities said that all 4 died on impact. The bones, which could not be identified as anyone in particular, were buried at the feet of one of the family members at Valhalla Cemetery in Belleville Illinois.
~ Ruth Dehne
News Item from Southern Illinoisian
"Four Pray at Crash Site in Idaho"