Dayton Grover, Jr. died peacefully on July 23, 2015 at Knox County Nursing Home surrounded by family. Dayton was born August 19, 1933, the son of Dayton and Martha (Hegeman) of Glen Head, New York. Dayton spent his childhood in Glen Head, New York and surrounding areas of Nassau County, Long Island. Dayton and his parents visited Missouri on summer trips and moved to Novelty after Dayton completed the 9th grade at Roslyn High School in Roslyn, New York.
Farms and wide open spaces were a welcome environment for Dayton at a young age. He loved to explore beyond the urban environment of New York, and northeast Missouri served as a respite for his family.
Dayton graduated from Novelty High School in 1951 and then attended the University of Missouri where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 1956. He joined the U.S. Army and served his country from 1956-1958. He completed his airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia on February 15, 1957. Dayton served in the Mortar Battery, 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Battle Group, where he achieved the rank of Sergeant. During his service in the Army, Dayton was a paratrooper at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
During his college years and through the fire seasons of 1953 through 1965, Dayton spent his summers working for the United States Forest Service. For nine seasons, he worked as a fire control technician, trained to mitigate the spread of fires in protected land, and served as a smokejumper and squad leader. With fellow smokejumpers, Dayton jumped out of old World War II airplanes and parachuted into forest fires in the states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, California, and Alaska. Dayton forged lifelong friendships with men whom he considered his brothers. Smokejumping represented a vital link to awe-inspiring adventure for Dayton. These memories sustained him through his future endeavors and made for great storytelling, for which he was well known.
From 1963 to 1965, Dayton was a teacher for the Santa Cruz Cooperative School in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where he taught elementary sciences. Dayton was united in marriage to Adriana (Quintanilla) in Santa Cruz in 1964 and they made their residence in Knox County in 1965. Dayton worked for the State Department from 1967 through 1969 and served as a support officer in the Pacification Program securing villages and hamlet areas in Qui Nhon, Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam. Dayton was awarded the Medal for Civilian Service in Vietnam in January 1969. Upon return from Vietnam, Dayton taught school in Knox and Lewis counties, and Gallup McKinley County Public Schools in Gallup, New Mexico. Dayton was the principal at Novelty Elementary for a number of years. In addition, for four years, he served as the area coordinator for youth training programs for NEMO Community Action Agency. He was an inspiring teacher, coach and mentor in Knox County schools from 1970 to 1992. In addition to teaching, Dayton farmed and worked at the Knox County Sheriff’s Department as a dispatcher, city of Edina, Baring, and Centralia in water treatment. Dayton served many professional roles during his life, but he was also a husband, father, and grandfather. Most notably, he was proud of his children. Along with his wife, Adriana, he influenced their memories and experiences.
Dayton is survived by Adriana, his wife of 51 years, and his children; Dayton III of Ashland, Daniel “Chi-Chi” (Megan) of Columbia, Carmen (Neal) of Hartsburg, Carlos of Kansas City, Patricia (Ron) of Kansas City, Alex (Sarah) of Wylie, TX, Catherine (Bill) of Columbia, Elizabeth (Francisco) of Fort Collins, CO. Eight grandchildren, Dayton IV, Michael, Tyrus, Vincent, Mary Grace, Isabella, Maria and Colleen.
Dayton was preceded in death by his parents. Family will be receiving friends for a celebration of his life on July 31st from 4-7 p.m. at Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home. Words of remembrance will commence at 6 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the National Smokejumper Association in Missoula, MT and Smokejumper Welfare Fund Aerial Fire Depot in Missoula, MT.