SKOWHEGAN - Ira Albert Salley, lovingly known by friends as "Ikie" and "PopPop" by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, entered an eternal life with the Lord on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. He touched hearts for 95 wonderful years. His kind-hearted spirit is carried on by his sister, two daughters, six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews who loved him dearly. He is sadly missed.
Our father, grandfather, uncle and friend had a blessed life. At the tender age of 10, our PopPop found a love for music, when he began yodeling, and playing the harmonica and guitar. By the age of 15, he was playing professionally. His band, Yodelin' Ike and the Drifting Texans, played on radio stations and in theaters and town and Grange halls throughout the state of Maine. In 1943, he joined the Army, where he played on the Air Force Network in Europe plus the Red Cross, officer and service clubs.
Proudly, he was awarded a Purple Heart and numerous additional medals for his service to our country.
In 1946, he returned home and formed the Hillbilly Jamboree and performed for 10 continuous years on radio station WTVL in Waterville. It gave him great pleasure to have played with Maine country musicians Ken MacKenzie, Tony & Juanita, Cowboy Caravan, Ray Little, Lone Pine, Doc Williams and Hawkshaw Hawkins. The highlight of his career was in 1957, when Don Doane Sr. asked him to join the Katahdin Mountaineers, where he remained for more than 30 years. PopPop never stopped loving music. He continued to sing, yodel, and play his guitar well into his 80s for his friends at the Muskie Center in Waterville. Yodelin' Ike was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.
Ira worked at the A&P in Waterville, retiring after many years of employment. In addition to the A&P, he was an longtime active licensed auctioneer. Many locals would turn out to hear him auction off antiques at grange halls and at Leako auctions in Skowhegan.
Ikie loved his family tremendously and had a heart of gold. His hobbies included duck hunting and fishing, which he enjoyed with his nephews, as well as being at camp and looking after his children and grandchildren.
There was nothing that gave him pleasure more than giving all he could to his kids' grandkids at Christmas time. He worked hard each day in the cold of winter, hauling boughs into his home to make Christmas wreaths, which he sold for extra money during the holidays. In the summer months, when he wasn't at camp, he could be found sitting in the dirt, weeding his enormous vegetable gardens. You'd find his vegetables each year at the Skowhegan fair with blue ribbons dangling from them. There were too many to count.
Ira was predeceased by his loving wife and mother of his children, Florence Pelotte Salley, in 2010; grandson Jonathan Ira Giles, in 1988; and a very special nephew, Dean Morrison, in 2013, who was like a son to him. He is survived and remembered by his daughter Sharol Oliver, of Waterville; daughter and spouse Sandra and Kevin Meader, of Skowhegan; sister and spouse Clarissa and Lloyd Powers, of China; grandchildren and spouses Jamie and Scott Stern, of Bangor, Nicholas and Nicole Meader, of Norrigewock, Michael and Raelyn Meader, of Skowhegan, Bobbie Jo and Michael Roderick, of Skowhegan, and Danielle and Larry Scott, of Monmouth; grandson Myron Hutchins, of Waterville; great-grandchildren Abbey, Hannah, Laurel, Payson, Presley, Calvin, Alice, Claire, Shia and Piper; as well as many nieces and nephews in Maine and Virginia.
Our family wishes to express sincere gratitude to the compassionate staff at Togas Hospice who kept our PopPop comfortable and cared for during his stay.
Friends wishing may make donations in his memory to the Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County Inc., P.O. Box 3069, Skowhegan, ME 04976. At the family's request, there will be no funeral. Interment will be announced at a later date.
We would be honored to have all who loved Ira join us for a celebration of his life from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, at Dan & Scott's Cremation & Funeral Service (Adams Chapel), 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan.