2019 Spud Day Grand Marshal
Idaho Spud Day announces their Grand Marshal for 2019
Merlin Dial was born January 2 nd , 1939. He is the 1 st born child of Hazel La Vona Fielding and Ira William Dial. Marjean, his sister born 2 years later.
In his early years he grew up in two homes just down the street from where he now lives now, In Shelley, Idaho. The first home he lived in has been gone for many years, but it had no running water and an outhouse.
He went to school in Shelley and was taught by the likes of Dean Goodsell and Hazel Stuart.
He played football, basketball, track and Baseball, lettering all four years. He jumped the 1 st jumpball in, what was then the newly built high school that was where the Sunrise Elementary School now sits. They won the district football championship during his Senior year, which was before state tournaments.
After graduating High School, he was courted by ISU to play football but when he found that it would be more formal schooling involved, he declined the offer and chose technical classes to learn welding skills which would benefit his farming dreams. It was there he met Sharon Thornock at a church basketball pickup game in Pocatello. They were smitten and soon after in early 1959 married in the Idaho Falls Temple.
Over the years he raised 3 boys, Curt, Rick and Gary to learn the value of character, hard work and honesty. This past August 3, his son Curt Dial passed away and has left a big hole in the hearts of many, especially Merlin’s. This year during the Spud Day Parade, Merlin will be riding as Grand Marshal and following behind him will be his son’s Gary Dial and Rick Dial, driving Curt’s 1960 Chevrolet Impala Car. This car is a beautiful car Curt used to drive this in his high school days. Many from Shelley will recognize the car. Make sure to check it out in the parade.
His marriage of 25 years ended with Sharon and later he married a childhood sweetheart, Annette Ball. They were happily married several years until she passed away of cancer. He currently spends his winter days in Yuma Arizona where he helps serve the needs of widows, neighbors, and many families in the neighboring community of Algodones, Mexico.
At 80 years old he still loves people, farming, playing cards with family and friends, attending movies, peanut butter-tomato-mayo on toast, and pineapple buttermilk milkshakes, Cheetos, and “Howling at the Moon” in a Yuma dessert ritual.
Merlin has lived in Shelley his whole life. He loves farming. He continues to farm with his son, Gary and he’s grandson Brad to this very day. He finds such great joy in his days filled with hard work.
Merlin has served in many callings over the years but seemed to enjoy serving as president of the Elders Quorum working to bless the lives of men and families, he loved and respected. Merlin serves so many daily, through is kindness and genuine love for others. He is a great example to many.
At age 7, Merlin’s father served a two-year mission in the eastern parts of the United States. During these two years and under the guidance of his mother and Uncle Joe Dial he continued to learn to work on the family farm, helped his mother around the home. He grew stronger in spirit and body.
In his teen years he recounts a story of buying a newborn calf to raise. He loved sports and wanted to get stronger. He decided to carry that calf around the barn every day a determined amount of times until the calf would eventually be too big to carry. He was surprised at the increased strength and endurance this gave him and how long he was ableto continue this ritual.
Merlin was dedicated to farming. He has an innate ability to improvise and improve. This proved very valuable as he took over the 80-acre family farm from his dad. He hauled coal each year for the family with a 1964’s Chevrolet truck, traveling down to Price Utah each year. With the same truck he hauled potatoes from Boise to R.T. French Potato Co. in Shelley. They still use this truck today. Spudnik Equipment Company had designed a machine called a scooper in 1958 that could pick potatoes up off the cellar floors without all the manual labor. He quickly bought into this idea purchasing the 13 th scooper built. He also purchased a 1946’s International truck to haul it on and mounted a generator behind the cab to take with him, as there were no cellars with power sources. He was somewhat of a pioneer in this industry, scooping and hauling potatoes in the winters and growing them all summer. His innovation was clearing manifest a few years later when he mounted a small black and white TV with rabbit ears on his scooper so he would not miss his favorite soapopera, Days of Our Lives, keeping him up to date on his favorite stars.
The 80-acre farm would double to 160 as he negotiated with a next-door neighbor Harry Johnson to acquire again 80 acres that was once owned by his grandfather Sam Dial. Harry owned the bowling alley in Shelley and would eventually buy a ghost town called Leesburg. With the 80-thousand-dollar purchase price of the farm. Merlin was very successful in all his dealings. He worked with Crofts Inc., a potato warehouse in Firth where he set up a trucking business to scoop and haul potatoes in from cellars around the area. He established and maintained a great relationship with GPOD of Idaho to market his potatoes which has blessed the family for two generations to this day.
His operation expanded from 80 flood irrigated acres to at one time over 600 acres, mostly pivots and wheelines. By today’s standard that is a small operation but, in his day, cutting edge.