Sunday, September 24th, 2017

D. Paul Ayers


The father of the three Ayers brothers was D. Paul Ayers (1907-1967). At our recent reunion, we talked about our parents and tried to re-construct a chronology of our growing up years. I was later asked by son-in-law Kerry Layton for details of Dad’s engineering career. My reply is below.D Paul Ayers and MitziMom's annotation

(Mom’s annotation on back of photo.)

Thank you, Kerry, for supplying this history of S&P.

Laura and Kerry,

I guess I should put some information about my Dad in the ‘Old Gent’ section of my website, shouldn’t I?

Dad was born in 1907 on a farm near Iola, KS (southeastern corner of the state). Granddad was a prosperous farmer, row crops and small dairy, and one of the early adopters of agricultural advances like crop rotation and contour plowing. The farm was one of the few at that time with electricity (windmill charger for a bank of batteries) and indoor plumbing. The outhouse remained, however, to conserve water, which had to be pumped from a well. When we visited, it was out the door to the back that we went.

Dad was interested in scientific things and constructed one of the first crystal radio sets in the area when he was a boy. He did well in High School and was able to go to college in Manhattan (Kansas State Agricultural College in those days), graduating in 1928 or 1929 with a B.S.E.E. degree. His first job was with Kansas Power and Light in Manhattan, Hutchnson, and Topeka, KS. His specialty was design of power transmission systems (the wire highlines that criss-cross the country carrying electricity hither and yon).

In 1947, Dad apparently decided it was time to move on and left KP&L for CopperWeld Steel Company in McKeesPort, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). We lived for one year in Mt. Lebanon, PA, all very different and eye-opening to this 10th-grader, but for reasons unknown (to me) it didn’t live up to Dad’s expectations, and we moved to Webster Groves. Dad commuted downtown to Sverdrup & Parcel every day with a few fellow-workers. He was involved with the electrical engineering aspects of various S&P projects in St. Louis and around the midwest.

I’m hazy about the particulars, Don and Tom and I couldn’t decide, but Dad left Sverdrup in the mid-1950s for two or three years to be part owner of a business in Hutchinson, KS. Marilyn and I were living in Hutchinson at the time, before and after my brief Army service, but I cannot remember what kind of a business it was. I thought it was a hardware store, but my brothers say I’m not even close, and they’re probably right. I do remember that we all went to a brand new Presbyterian church for a year or two until I left Hutchinson to work at Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids. Dad returned to Sverdrup & Parcel in St. Louis and was shortly assigned as Project Engineer for Sverdrup’s part of Bush Gardens under construction in Tampa. I am the only one of the Ayers boys who didn’t find an opportunity to visit the folks in sunny Florida.

Returning to S&P in St. Louis, Dad continued to work as an Electrical Engineer there until his premature death in 1967 at age 59.

So there you have it, Kerry. I sort of followed in Dad’s footsteps and entered the Engineering school at K-State in 1949, studying under some of the same professors as Dad did, some 20+ years earlier. But where Dad learned about dynamos and generators and transmission lines, I leaned more to electron tubes (no transistors yet) and radio transmission.

As sort of a post-script, Dad lost some pension benefits when he left S&P and returned later, so his major goal was to get their little house paid for as soon as possible. They burned the mortgage less than a year before he died.

Never ask an old man to reminisce unless you have a few minutes to spare!




9 Responses to “D. Paul Ayers”
  1. Linda says:

    Thank you Kerry for asking! Hey dad, we’re all interested and would like you to write more on your memories.

    My memories of Granddad Paul were of a nice man who actually liked to play games with mom! That was amazing to me, since my own dear dad was never found playing Scrabble. I was 10 when Granddad died, but remember well all the Ayers men watching the cardinals play. The house on Coffee Ct. (is that right?) was an interesting contrast to nana’s house full of antiques, all very contemporary, some oriental decor and bright orange accents. I was blessed with wonderful grandparents!

  2. Dave says:

    Aah… Coffee Ct. That was one of the street names we were trying to remember at the lake. Yes, that was the Crestwood address where they were living when Dad died.

    The story as I got it was that he had grilled supper outside and was relaxing in the entrance to the garage, perhaps with an illegal cigar, but I’m not sure about that. He had his heart attack and fell to the pavement, where Tom found him when he had walked up for a visit from their house just down the street.

  3. Leslie says:

    Thanks Dad! All sorts of gems on Orlop for perusal! Thanks to Kerry for soliciting this history of Granddad. As Linda has asked, more memories, please!

    Alas, being the youngest, my only memories of him are spotty, not sure what’s my memory and what Mom has mentioned.

    I do however, have many fond memories of visiting Marguarite on Coffee Ct. and walking over to Uncle Tom’s house around the corner and down the street. Laura and I drove over to her old house one day after I’d moved to St. Louis, years ago and it hadn’t changed.

  4. Dad says:

    More memories please? Which would you prefer, real or imaginary? The real ones are getting harder to dredge up.

  5. Larry Ayers says:

    For some odd reason I even remember the address: it was 1010 Coffee Ct.

    Linda, I have similar memories of the ambience of the Coffee Ct. house. Very urban and contemporary, so different from home and the rural and old-fashioned feel of the Thorngrens’ house in Mission.

    Real or imaginary, Dad? When you get right down to it, all memories are imaginary to some degree. We’ll listen to whatever you come up with!

    Thanks for telling us more details of your father’s life. I didn’t know that he was born in Iola, and I remember the time your folks spent in Florida, but I never knew why they were there. I also remember the seashells Marguerite brought back with her.

    When they came back to Webster Groves they lived in a second-floor apartment, the first apartment I had ever been in. What a novelty for a small boy!

  6. Dave says:

    Thanks for coming up with the address on Coffee Court, as well as for your other recollections. I think a blog is a great way to gather recollections from the family. Like I told you the other day, I consider this blog as my ‘memoirs.’

  7. Laura Layton says:

    I remember the house on Coffee Ct. clearly, but have few memories of Grandad Paul. I remember sitting on his lap and being in awe of him-he was a large man in my minds eye. I remember Grandmother serving interesting food like lamb and my first english muffins and the smell of her percolater coffee on the stove. We all were impressed with the perfect climbing tree in the back yard and hiding notes in the lamp in the bedroom. The slab house was a novelty, me not knowing that I would raise my kids in a slab home some day in a similar STL neighborhood!

  8. Dave says:

    Thanks for sharing your recollections, Laura. I knew we would hear from you sooner or later. Is there some hidden significance that your memories seem to revolve around food? Are you saying that we didn’t feed you well?

    But you are right. When Mom fed us, there often was something special that we didn’t usually have. And if we couldn’t finish our serving, we could always pass our plates to Dad for a last scrape.

  9. Good afternoon Mr. Ayers. My name is Jeff Wist and I’m an associate attorney with South & Associates, P.C. The law firm of South & Associates, P.C. has been retained by Fidelity National Title to correct certain deficiencies in the title to the property commonly known as 1010 Coffey Ct., St. Louis, MO 63126.

    One of the issues in the title to the property is that the property was conveyed by General Warranty Deed on August 24, 1962 from Bruce A. Morissette and Dorothy Morissette, to D. Paul Ayers and Marguerite S. Ayers. This deed was recorded on August 31, 1962 in Book 4903, page 392. Next the property was conveyed by General Warranty Deed on June 14, 1978 from Marguerite S. Ayers, a single person, to Mary Ann Sandner, a single person. This deed was recorded on June 14, 1978in Book 7064, page 262.

    Unfrotunately, the St. Louis County Records do not show what happened to the interest of D. Paul Ayers. Reviewing the page above, I presume that D. Paul Ayers died some time in 1967. If that was the case, and he and Marguerite S. Ayers were married at the time of his death, then the property would have passed to her upon his death.

    I believe it is quite possible to resolve this title issue by preparing an affidavit that states the factual background surrounding these events.

    I am hopeful that with your personal knowledge of these events, you could assist me in resolving this title issue. Could you please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss this matter. I thank you in advance for your cooperation and look forward to speaking with you.

    Very Truly Yours,

    Jeffrey T. Wist
    Associate Attorney
    South & Associates, P.C.
    800 Market Street, Suite 1660
    St. Louis, MO 63101
    Phone: 314-655-7001 ext. 308
    Fax: 314-655-7004

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