1940 Cassville grad receives 1st FFA jacket

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Cassville FFA Second Vice President Keenan Roller shakes hands with original FFA member Doyle Nickle after he received an FFA jacket, while Sentinel Mattie Stephenson, left, First Vice President Dakota Townsend and President Parker Duncan (behind Roller) stand by. Nickle helped found the local charter in Cassville on Jan. 25, 1938, but never had a jacket because his parents could not afford one. Julia Kilmer/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

FFA members present jacket to charter member who could not afford one in 1938

Doyle Nickle, 94, a 1940 Cassville High School graduate, received an unexpected surprise on Monday, receiving something he never had in high school as an FFA member -- an official FFA jacket.

Nickle was a charter member in school, but never had the blue jacket that identified him as a member like the rest of his peers. His parents just couldn't afford one, he said.

FFA Sentinel Mattie Stephenson helps Doyle Nickle put on his very first FFA jacket, which was officially presented to him by Cassville FFA officers. Nickle helped start the local Cassville chapter in 1938, but never had a jacket because his parents could not afford one. On Nov. 23, 77 years later, he finally received one. Cassville FFA First Vice President Dakota Townsend, President Parker Duncan and Second Vice President Keenan Roller stand by. Julia Kilmer/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

"He told me he was in the FFA,

but his parents were too poor to afford a jacket," said Bruce Nickle, son of Doyle Nickle and owner of Nickle's Flooring. "So, I got the idea that maybe this would be a good time [to get him a jacket]. I talked to Jordan Ellis, who is the local FFA chapter advisor and high school ag teacher, and he seemed to think it was, too. He had mentioned that he saw Doyle's name on an old charter record."

Ellis did in fact see Nickle's name, on a charter signed on Jan. 25, 1938, which was actually hanging in his office at the school. If it were not for good record-keeping, the record might have been lost to time. However, keeping good records is something the organization prides itself on, and the quality proved more than useful this time.

"Our students learn to keep records mainly for their farm and business accounts," Ellis said. "So, they learn in the classroom and in the organization how to keep records. Their degrees and awards are all based on records they keep of their personal projects. It's important so they know about things like profit and loss."

So, 77 years later, Cassville student FFA officers, along with Ellis, presented Doyle Nickle with his first official FFA jacket.

"Mr. Nickle, I don't know if you remember, but on Jan. 25, 1938, you signed a charter and helped to start an FFA chapter in Cassville," FFA President Parker Dunker said a the beginning of the presentation. "There were 28 members then. Now, there are 150 of us. We've learned about leadership skills, farm accounts, how to become better advocates for agriculture, and all because you helped us start our chapter. As the years continue, our hope is that your contribution, along with all former Cassville FFA members, will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of young, agricultural enthusiasts.

"So, on behalf of the Cassville FFA Chapter, we would like to thank you for your service to our chapter, our community and our country."

Nickle said the gift came as a great surprise.

Cassville FFA Second Vice President Keenan Roller, President Parker Duncan, Sentinel Mattie Stephenson and First Vice President Dakota Townsend stand with original FFA charter member Doyle Nickle, who helped start the organization in 1938. Local FFA officers and their advisor Jordan Ellis surprised Nickle on Monday by presenting him with his very own, official FFA jacket, which he never had as a member, because his parents could not afford one. Julia Kilmer/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

"It's Unusual," he said. "I'm tickled to death with it."

His wife, Trudy Nickle, kept the presentation a surprise until they walked into Nickle's Flooring, where everyone was waiting for him.

After high school, Nickle was drafted into the military, serving in WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Duncan said he enjoyed being able to give an original charter member a jacket he never had.

"It was really awesome," he said. "It's very rare you can honor someone who helped start the organization you participate in."

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