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I got a letter from Illa Heslop of Creston with some interesting newspaper clippings. I will focus on one of those clippings this week.
In the 1970s, Harold Roberts, editor of the Creston News Advertiser, penned a column called, “’Round the Community.” Illa sent me one of his columns from 1978 about Pearl Kokesh, a long-time Diagonal businesswoman. I have a condensed version of this article in a book authored by Roberts, also call “’Round the Community.”
Pearl Bailey was born October 5, 1887 in Goshen to Asa and Anna Bailey. The family moved to Diagonal in 1889, the same year most of Goshen’s businesses moved to the new town of Diagonal. Pearl grew up in the hardware business as her father ran a hardware store and other businesses.
Pearl graduated from the Corning Academy in 1906 after completing ten grades at Diagonal. She then attended Coe College, taught school, and served as principal at Grundy Center before returning to Diagonal and marrying Dr. H. E. McCall, of Clearfield, in 1913. She served as her husband’s assistant until his passing in 1925.
In 1928, Pearl married Fred Kokesk who was in the farm machinery business in Diagonal. They remodeled part of their store into living quarters as they worked long hours and traveling into town from the country often proved difficult. Most of their years were spent working and being a vital part of the community.
Before Fred died in 1973, the couple gave 16 acres south of Diagonal for a conservation project. That development today is Kokesh Recreation (Pearl’s Puddle!).
Faith and prayer were a great part of Pearl’s life. She arose every morning asking the Lord how she could be of service that day.
“Auntie Pearl” was an avid quilter in her later years. She sold her stock of hardware about 1980 to Frank Gunsolley who had purchased the Kenneth Morrow lumber yard. Pearl Kokesh passed away in 1985.
This week’s picture was scanned from the Diagonal Centennial Book. Pearl’s business building stood where the 209 Broadway restaurant stands today. Another biography of Pearl can be found in the May 29, 1980 Mount Ayr Record-News.