Ivan Lee Fail was born October 25, 1936, to Ivan Junior and Helen Bernice Fail, in Neodesha, Kansas and passed away October 5, 2019, surrounded by family, friends, and loving caregivers. Services are being handled by Adams Funeral home in Nixa, Missouri.
The oldest of four children, he worked with his father on the large family farm and attended Green Valley and Three Mounds Schools and Altoona, Kansas Rural High School. He enjoyed guns, fishing, and animals. He talked about his horses, dogs and a strange-looking cat that joined him on a walk one day; a cat that turned out to be a skunk. As a teen, he endeared himself to local law enforcement by punching the Mayor, upsetting outhouses, and, tied to his car, dragged a 55-gallon drum barrel noisily down the cobbled brick streets of Chanute.
In the Marine Corp for 3 years in the 1950’s, he operated amphibious vehicles while stationed in Japan. One of his most treasured memories was a training exercise that took him to Iwo Jima, where he felt he was walking in the footsteps of heroes. After his honorable discharge, he entered the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a correctional officer and worked in Lompoc, CA and Leavenworth, KS before the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, in Springfield, MO, retiring in 1989.
He worked double shifts at the prison, and it was during this time that he started writing poetry about mishaps at “the Joint”. He wrote about inmates finding booze on the grounds, Larry Ellingsworth stealing food off the inmates’ cart, and numerous other pranks. He felt that his fellow MCFP employees were his brothers and sisters and relished in the respect of many of those at the MCFP, save for the ill-humored wardens and the notorious Mafia hit-man, Harold “Kayo” Konigsberg. He never met a fight that he didn’t want a part in, and usually supported the underdog. A formula he passed down to his daughters, he won his battles with meticulous research and timing paired with unreserved tenacity, ultimately blasting his cause “in the court of public opinion”.
He was united in marriage in 1965 to Myra Mitchell of Nixa, and Lora and Daphne were born to them. They attended the Church of Christ in Nixa, Ozark, and Springfield and relationships with his church families were intact until his death. One of his happiest events was the birth of his only grandchild, Denver. Though they divorced years later, they attended the funerals of one another’s parents. At Granny Fail’s service, Grandpa Fail told Myra, “The only good thing about this is seeing you again.” If Grandma Mitchell knew that Ivan was going to come to her funeral, she wouldn’t have died.
After retiring from the MCFP, wanderlust gripped Ivan and he drove over-the-road for CFI and others. Seeing the entire country and experiencing the various cultures throughout the U.S. fulfilled his restless nature. The highways and drivers of New York and Philadelphia earned his disdain, and he preferred the familial and gracious people at the southern border and Mexico. Coffee shop waitresses (really, most ladies along the Rio Grande) blessed with long lush black hair and onyx eyes were spared no cheesy one-liners and were candidates for his next poem. He loved the food, the vibrancy, and the friendliness of those he met south of the border and admired their happiness despite challenging conditions. He often ventured away from his home in Sparta and showed up unannounced to visit Lora at work. Bearing groceries and gifts, he enjoyed his freedom out and about, meeting old girlfriends for coffee, and flirting with strangers.
His greatest passion was writing poetry. Frequent subjects were his daughters, pretty Mexican ladies, and the embarrassment of friends, which often required an apology. Most of his writing was focused on the military, members of the armed forces, and WW2 era warplanes. He was deeply honored when a congressman requested permission to enter one into the Congressional record, and his poems have been printed on programs and read at the opening ceremonies of air shows. He was flattered to learn that Charlton Heston purchased a copy of his favorite one. He submitted to various blogs and self-published a compilation of the poems and prison stories, “Penitentiary Politics, Pranks and Poetry”.
The last three years of his life were spent with around-the-clock care and protection after his daughters successfully and necessarily petitioned Cedar County Probate Court to place him under legal guardianship. Unfortunately, by the time they broke through obstructions, his health condition was irreversible and his inheritance unrecoverable which would have provided for a more comfortable level of care.
Our dad was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Iva June, whom he adored and grieved the time lost with her. He is survived by his daughters, Lora Louderback of Nixa, Daphne Freise and husband Tim of North Wales, PA, one grandson, Denver Louderback of Palisade, CO, two brothers, John Fail of Thayer, KS and Larry Fail of Littleton, CO, and cousins, nieces and nephews.
A special thanks to the most attentive caregivers at Ozark Riverview Manor, including, but not limited to Christina, Crystal, Tamra, Richard, Karyn, Jessica, Ada, Ali, and Good Shepherd Hospice RN Sheryl. For their unending support, patience, and shoulders for Lora, and for always having a free bedroom for Daphne’s trips to attend court, a million hugs to Randy and Myra Massey. To Olive Talley, So many thanks for the hours of advice and guidance and unfailing support.
The family wishes to recognize as honorary pallbearers Larry Ellingsworth, Steven Pulliam, Gary Amstutz, Jerry Gilley, Denny Walsh, Dwain Stoops, Ralph Davidson, and Randy Massey.
Visitation will be from 5:00–7:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 9, in Adams Funeral Home, Nixa. A graveside service with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, October 10, 2019 at Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Springfield, under direction of Adams Funeral Home, Nixa.
Copyright © 2020 Daphne Freise. All rights reserved.
Categories: Rest in Peace