Roy Meredith Birdsell
January 1, 1930
June 18, 2018
Friends and family mourn the loss of Roy Birdsell who passed away Monday, June 18th. Roy was born on New Year's Day in Julian, 88 years ago. He was born to Alfred E. "Bud" Birdsell, who was the son of Alfred E. "Mike" Birdsell Sr. Mike Birdsell came to Julian in about 1895, hauling a sawmill to North Peak from Los Angeles. He stayed to set up the mill and cut lumber for several houses. One of them was to be his. When he completed his house in Boulder Creek, he sent for his wife and baby son, Bud. Roy's dad Bud grew up on the mountain, and like his father, became a sawmill man. Bud was also an outstanding mechanic. Soon Roy was helping his father and learning the skills that would serve him the rest of his life.
Roy attended the Anahuac School in Boulder Creek and then Spencer Valley School. He graduated from Julian Union High School in 1947. Not long after graduation he served as bus driver for the high school. Then Roy was called to serve in the US Army. He was a combat soldier in the Korean War. He has been a member of the Lincoln Deming American Legion Post since that time. Roy put that experience behind him and set off to make a living. Roy worked several different jobs around the area, most of them involving heavy equipment and mechanic work. Roy retired as the County Road Department Foreman on Palomar Mountain.
Roy spent his entire life collecting...well... "stuff"... That stuff would become his trademark throughout his life. At a young age, about ten years old, Roy acquired his first Model T Ford. There wasn't a lot of it, and it didn't run. He repaired it to running condition himself, a feat that amazed his dad. It shouldn't have. A lot of boys back then were lucky enough to be among men who could fix anything. That was not lost on Roy and he spent his entire life buying and fixing things others couldn't.
He married Peggy Collins in 1952 and soon after that, their son James Alfred, was born. Daughter, Carol Jean, was born in 1955. Roy and Peggy eventually moved to Wynola, where they lived until parting ways in 1972. Peggy and Roy remained friends thereafter.
On June 30, 1973, Roy married Ardith Bales. Ardith, along with her children, moved a short distance down the road to Roy's place and began their 45 years of marriage. Roy had met his match, in many ways. Traveling around the country was just one of their many adventures together. What looked like junk to others was Roy's canvas. He was living "green" long before it became trendy. Everything in his yard was just waiting for the chance to be a replacement or re-purposed. Before others discovered roaming the desert in fancy store bought off-road vehicles, Roy was there. He was there in a 1940's vintage "dune buggy" he had fabricated himself. He tore the body off, split the wishbones, welded the head of a metal bed on to hold the steering wheel, welded in a front seat and another one for the kids and he was good to go. Sometimes he spent a lot of the weekend fixing things so he could get back to camp. But what an adventure! Everything Roy did was an adventure.
As Roy and others got older, an old timers group was formed and a yearly barbeque was held in Wynola. Roy became barbeque master for the event. While the pit was turning to coals, Roy would use the boom mounted on his dune buggy to hoist a large pot over the pit, full of sweet corn to be served to all of the volunteers prepping the meat. He also did pit barbeques all around the Julian area and Palomar Mountain. Coming from a musically talented family, Roy enjoyed music, especially accordion music. He collected all sorts of musical instruments, none of which he could play, except the accordion, which he would only play when alone. He was a member of the Accordion Lovers Society International.
Roy would probably say he led a good life. It was certainly a full and busy one. He had an incredible memory. In 2016, Roy was the subject of a Julian Historical Society video interview. Roy talked for six hours. He described in detail every aspect of his life in Julian. Losing Roy is an incredible loss. He lived in a time that few can now relate to. A proud and capable man, Roy Birdsell lived life on his own terms.
Roy is survived by his wife of 45 years, Ardith Birdsell, daughter Carol Birdsell Robbins, son James Alfred Birdsell, step children Kirk Bales, Kent Bales, Kris Bales, Kari Bales Young, Karla Jones, nine grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren.
Services will be held at 10am, Saturday, June 30, 2018 at the Julian Pioneer Cemetery located on A Street. A luncheon will follow at the American Post on Washington Street.
Bonham Bros & Stewart Mortuary and Cremation Services is assisting the family.
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