Edwin Staley Hovatter
April 22, 1926 – July 1, 2018
Edwin Staley Hovatter went to rejoin the great love of his life, Lois, on July 1, 2018. He was 92 and his second love, Maxine, was at his bedside as he passed peacefully in his sleep while in hospice care after a brief illness.
Edwin was born in 1926 on the Wellton, Arizona, homestead his father, Staley, and uncle, Dallas, founded in 1904. He moved to Yuma after his father died in 1928 before eventually moving to the Colby Farm in Bard, California, where his mother, Edith, was a housekeeper. That is where his life found its bearings and where he met Lois Dorries. An entry in Lois’ 8th grade diary says: “I met a boy today. His name is Edwin.” They were rarely apart until Lois’ death in 2004.
Instead of finishing his senior year at Yuma High School, Edwin enlisted in the Navy in 1944. In 1946, WWII ended for him as they decommissioned his LST cargo ship in New Orleans. Edwin returned that year to marry Lois and become a mechanic at (and, ultimately partner in) Donkersley Studebaker-Jeep; later Donkersley Buick-Pontiac-Jeep. Two children – Gary & Patricia – came along in the 1950s and Edwin struck out as an independent auto shop owner in the early 1970s. From then until his retirement in the 1990s he owned several businesses including AutoDoc and Midtown Auto; with a brief period of five years when he and Lois worked overseas in Saudi Arabia and northern Kenya for USAID.
Edwin was happiest when he was involved in a mechanical or engineering project. He built, owned and repaired private airplanes and was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Yuma. Members of the First United Methodist Church were very happy for his ability to coax their air conditioner into service each summer. He built a wooden boat in his garage which the family used to enjoy river cruising for many years, even skiing Gary over an alligator on one occasion. Al Unser Sr. asked him to join his racing team pit crew. When asked why he chose not to accept the offer Edwin responded, “I would have had to be away from my family.”
In addition to his business and dedication to his family, he was committed to helping others. Edwin was active in his church, Boy Scouts, The American Legion, and Kiwanis.
He is survived by his wife, Maxine Hudson Hovatter; his son and daughter-in-law, Gary and Debbie Hovatter; daughter and son-in-law, Patricia and Nick Palanza; grandson, Blue Hovatter and his wife Sarah; granddaughter, Jessica Komasa and her husband Chris; and four great grandchildren: Ryan, Tucker, Ila and Felix.
Throughout his long life, Yuma remained his anchor. A memorial service will be conducted on August 4, 2018, at 12:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church.