Supplemental character material on members of the Alton Krause family
to accompany “Gold in the Hills”
Sister Debora Jean “Debby” Krause (b. 1939 Johnstown, Pa; d. 2002 Missoula, MT)
One of the Krause family’s cousins, Doris Hodge Didyoung, has some interesting things to say about Debby, the first born to Alton and Genevieve: “Debby, was a sweet girl. She was like a sister to me. I remember, when she was just a little toddler — she somehow fell out of her father’s car from the backseat. She had permanent ear damage from that accident. The car had been moving at the time.
“When we were both little girls, my mom took me to Manitowoc, WI, on a train to visit Uncle Alton and Aunt Genevieve when they lived there. Debby and I had a good time playing together. It was very cold there. Aunt Gen took us to see a submarine come into dock with the Navy guys all waving at us. It was during the Second World War. Uncle Alton was a welder at that time for the Navy. I think I was probably four years old. I remember that the Navy guys on the train to WI, all took a liking to me and held me on their laps and brought me candy. My mom only had one train seat. I guess that helped her a lot. I think your parents had a Navy barrack’s house. I guess Uncle Alton was a Navy guy. Debby moved around a lot of different places with her parents and I imagine that was hard for her with different schools. But Debby had a very outgoing personality and everyone liked her, very much like Aunt Genevieve. She had a good sense of humor and always made me laugh.”
Sister Cindy has this to say about her late sister: “I never got to spend much time with Deb. I never got to know her as well as I would have liked, with the 20-year age difference. She would tell a story and you’d have to decide what was true – I think it was fun for her. After Mother died she would call me pretty regularly. When Mother was sick and dying, she came down and was the best one of all of us at taking care of her physically. When Daddy died she stayed with Mother and me for a couple weeks or a month. I’m not sure. She was a comforting presence for both of us. She liked shock value and would say anything. Laurin got such a kick out of her and the way she tried to shock people. I believe she loved her kids and grandkids and family dearly. She was an animal lover.”
“Debby never got lost,” according to younger sister Becky. “She had some animal sense of direction and could lead us through all the underground sewers in Corpus Christi, TX, or above ground on the streets. The sewers were a shortcut. Deb could do anything if she made up her mind to do it. In high school we took a four-day camp trip over the mountains in Salmon, with two other girls and she was the camp cook. I remember the pancakes. She decided the fire wasn’t hot enough and blew on it. The pancakes were a little gritty, but we ate them because there was no second choice.”
Debby Krause died relatively young, at age 62, of viral encephalitis but suffered from thyroid problems since childhood. Perhaps the radiation in the “hard rock” from the Idaho gold mining had affected her. Perhaps it was the fallout from nuclear testing in neighboring Nevada that had settled in the mountains above Leesburg. The irony is that Debby eventually had radiation on her thyroid tumors to destroy them. But we want to remember the good times, and hope you’ll check back here for more memories of Debby. Meanwhile, let’s go back to the original accounts of the Krause’s days looking for gold in Idaho.
Last revised: 3/1/17