By Kathe Malouf
Special to the Sun
Archie Logsdon was a man with many passions. He enjoyed flying his airplane, photography, spending time at Horse Meadow and anything relating to World War II history. But his primary passions were his family and his faith.
Logsdon, the man who built, owned and operated Archie’s Hardware store in Kernville, died peacefully at his home in Wofford Heights on Oct. 30 surrounded by his family at the age of 86.
Logsdon was born on April 6, 1931, in La Habra. He was a second generation California native and grew up in Southern California. Following his graduation from high school in 1948, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed the Class A Photographer’s Mate School in Pensacola, Florida, achieving the rank of Aviation Photographer’s Mate First Class.
Pursuing a Naval career in the field of photography came as no surprise to his family.
“He was always taking photographs,” said Logsdon’s younger sister, Sandy Sarthou, adding that the family recently found numerous boxes packed with the many photographs he took.
Logsdon was stationed in both Washington D.C. and Oakland. It was while in Washington D.C. that he met Joyce Delano on a blind date, and the two were soon married in 1953. The Logsdons returned to California, where Archie finished his naval service in Oakland. He received Honorable Discharge in 1954 and the family, which now included a son, Archie Jaye, moved to Brea. Logsdon was employed by Autonetics, which later became North American Rockwell, and continued his career in technical photography. By 1956, the Logsdons had their second child, Eileen.
After retiring from Rockwell in 1970, Logsdon made a quality of life decision and moved to the Kern River Valley. His daughter, Eileen Willeford said the Kern Valley was a place he had enjoyed since childhood when his family spent time with relatives John and Christina Burlando.
Logsdon purchased the Riverkern Store in 1970. “At that time, the Riverkern Store was only open during the summer season,” Willeford said. “He decided to keep it open year round, and he tripled the income in one year.”
After seven years in Riverkern, Logsdon sold the store and purchased a vacant lot in Kernville, where he built Archie’s Hardware.
Willeford said it took about a year to build the hardware store, and the grand opening was held in June of 1978. “I remember the date because I had to postpone my wedding for a month because of the grand opening,” she said with a smile. In early 1986, Logsdon decided to retire for a second time and sold Archie’s Hardware. Later that year, his wife, Joyce, died from cancer.
The following year, Logsdon suffered a life-threatening and life-changing injury, one that his family remembers all too well.
“It was the one year anniversary of my mother’s death and he had taken flowers to the cemetery,” Willeford said. “As he was coming home, he stopped to help John Burlando, who was trying to get his car started.” As many would do, Logsdon put a small amount of gasoline in a can and was drizzling it over the carburetor, when suddenly, something sparked.
Logsdon was engulfed in flames from his waist up. “The only thing left of his shirt were the snaps on the ground,” Willeford said. Logsdon was flown to Sherman Oaks Burn Center with third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. He remained in the hospital for about two months and went through countless skin grafts and surgeries. Because he had inhaled the flames, he suffered long-term lung damage that affected him for the rest of his life.
“Archie was a fighter,” Sarthou said. “And he was strong because of his faith.” Although younger than her brother, Sarthou remembers that Archie was grounded in his faith from an early age, and he shared his faith with others.
“He is the one who started me going to church,” Sarthou said. “My big brother would walk me to our little church every Sunday morning. And he made sure I was baptized.” Sarthou said she has been going to church ever since.
In 1989, Logsdon married his second wife, Carol Burkhart, a long-time Kern Valley resident, and the two began a new chapter in Logsdon’s life that included traveling, flying his airplane, spending time at Horse Meadow and an extended family that included numerous step-children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
“Every one of my kids considered Archie their dad,” Carol Logsdon said. “They depended on him for advice because Archie was so intelligent.”
Logsdon was smart. “Archie skipped the second grade, which he liked to let everyone know,” Sarthou chuckled. “We all heard that story many times.”
Step-daughter Lynnette Weller refers to Logsdon as the spiritual leader in their family. “He was instrumental and the catalyst that brought our entire family to the Lord,” Weller said.
Carol said Archie relied on his faith to help him endure the painful sessions at the burn center.
“With a burn, you have to heal from the inside out, and it requires that the burned skin is scraped off. Archie would tell me that he would lay there and say, ‘O.K. Jesus, if you will take half of this pain, I will take the other half.’ And that is how he got through it. Jesus has been there beside him all of his life,” Carol said.
Logsdon loved the Kern Valley, and he was involved with the community as a member of the Lion’s Club, and the Kernville Chamber of Commerce. While serving as President of the Chamber, he was instrumental in bringing the professional rodeo to Kernville.
Logsdon received his pilot’s license in 1980, and that opened up a whole new world for him. “He loved his airplane and loved to fly,” Carol said. “Out of all of his hobbies, his airplane was his favorite.”
And one of his favorite places was Horse Meadow on the Kern Plateau where he owned a four-acre parcel and built a cabin some 40 years ago. “We spent all of our summers up there and we put in a lot of improvements. He loved being up there,” Carol said.
Logsdon was also a history buff, especially when it came to World War II. “He read every book about World War II,” Carol said. “We took a trip to Europe one year on a World War II tour, and Archie would be explaining something to me, and the other people on the tour would be listening because he knew so much.”
Logsdon was comfortable no matter where he was, Carol said. “Every place we went, Archie just stood out. People would gravitate toward him. Archie could rub elbows with people like Roy Ashburn and Kevin McCarthy, rodeo cowboys, and ranchers. He was comfortable with everyone and everyone like him.”
Reminiscing about Archie’s Hardware conjures up numerous memories for those who knew about the pranks that went on during the seven years that Logsdon owned the store. But one in particular stands out: “the wheelbarrow story.”
Logsdon and his first wife, Joyce, enjoyed having dinner at McNally’s with friends. One evening, the Logsdons along with friends Gene and Jeltje Nelson, and Dave and Koochie Rossback were leaving the restaurant after dinner, when they noticed a wheelbarrow full of firewood just outside the door. As a fun prank, the group decided to dump the wood out, put the wheelbarrow in the back of Logsdon’s truck and take it to his hardware store.
“The next day, John (Saltzgaver, the owner of McNally’s) came into the store and told Archie that he needed a new wheelbarrow because someone had stolen his,” Carol said, adding that Archie told the frustrated Saltzgaver that he had a used wheelbarrow in the back of the store that someone had just brought in and it still looked brand new. “He told John that he would make him a good deal on it. John insisted on giving Archie $50 for the wheelbarrow, but Archie told him that was too much. As John was walking to the door, Joyce said ‘just a minute, I’ve had enough of this,’ and Archie ended up telling John that the wheelbarrow was his, and then he gave John his money back.”
From that time on, Logsdon was labeled “No more Mr. Nice Guy” a title he welcomed and proudly hung a sign with the title in Archie’s Hardware.
Survivors include, his wife Carol, sisters Beverly McGowen and Sandy (Melvin) Sarthou, son Archie Jaye, daughter Eileen (Rusty) Willeford; step-daughters Wanda (Bobby) Gammel and Lynnette (Eric) Weller; grandchildren Daniel (Shannon) Willeford, Paul (Kristen) Willeford, Haddon Willeford, Jed Logsdon, Jolene Medland, Aaron Avis, Amber Woolwine and John Woolwine; great grandchildren Lauren and Micah Willeford, Nina Gaudsmith, Naomi and Nicole Medland and Kylie Avis.
At the time of his death, Logsdon was an active member of Christ Fellowship Church in Wofford Heights.
A celebration of life service will be held for Logsdon on Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in Lake Isabella.