• Last modified 145 days ago (Feb. 28, 2024)


A memorable send-off for a memorable life

Staff writer

Whether people knew him as David, Dave, or Super Dave Oursler, the Peabody resident lived an extraordinary life that was remembered Monday with an extraordinary funeral.

After a 10 a.m. service attended by more than 190 people, his casket was loaded onto a semi-trailer and driven to Whitewater Center Cemetery to be placed in a trench dug by his son. After words by the minister, dispatchers sounded a firefighter’s “last call.”

Rodney Oursler, who used a backhoe to dig his father’s grave Friday and drove the truck to the cemetery Monday, said Friday it was emotional when he dug his grandmother’s grave a few years earlier but was even more emotional to dig his father’s grave.

It’s not surprising Oursler went out of the world in a way that befitted a life he lived on his own terms.

His first escape from death was at age 4. After his mother lit a barrel of trash on fire at their farm, he went to play with the fire. He burned himself so badly that he ended up having skin grafts from his thigh to his armpit.

Ten years later, while hiking, he fell, and a gun he was carrying discharged. He was shot in the side and had to drag himself home, struggle to his feet, and use the party-line phone to call a neighbor for help.

The neighbors loaded him into their car and drove him to a hospital, making a stop along the way to wrap him in a blanket to try to staunch his bleeding.

Luckily, the physician who treated his wound had the right experience. He’d been an Army surgeon.

Oursler’s family still has the bullet and shrapnel from the wound.

Those weren’t Oursler’s only major injuries. Before he married Janet on July 26, 1970, he suffered an eye injury that ultimately led to a cornea transplant.

While still in the hospital, a deployment letter arrived, telling him he would go to Vietnam. Instead, he was discharged from the Army because of his injury.

One of Oursler’s teachers had told him he would never amount to anything.

He bought a trencher and began a drilling business in 1967, while he was a high school junior.

His brother, Frank, joined him in 1969, and the pair formed the company Oursler Brothers Construction.

Over time, the company became Middlecreek Mining, then became Middlecreek Corp.

His son, Rodney, bought Middlecreek Corp. in 2021, keeping the business in the family.

Oursler was dedicated to his family and enjoyed boating and skiing with them. On a boat or a ski, he called himself “Super Dave.”

Oursler was part of Peabody’s fire department from the 1990s until 2004. A fire truck has a plaque with his name on it.

He was mayor of Peabody for eight years. He spearheaded the bringing of Hillsboro water to Peabody, oversaw installation of a new water tower, and purchased fire trucks.

“He just liked to be involved in the community and doing something,” his daughter, Trisha Oursler, said. “He wanted to do things to help the community.”

He was diagnosed in 2015 with Parkinson’s disease. His wife and daughter took care of him at home.

A week before he died, Oursler fell and broke his hip. After a few days in a hospital and a rehabilitation center, the family had him transferred home, where he died Feb. 19.

He is survived by Janet; brother Frank; son Rodney; daughters Trisha Oursler and Melissa Krien; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Last modified Feb. 28, 2024