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Man killed in bulldozer accident remembered as compassionate, kind father


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Ronald Messenger | Courtesy Jeri Vosika

RIGBY — A 63-year-old man killed in a bulldozer accident is being remembered as a kind father, hard worker and someone who would do anything for anyone.

Ronald Messenger was his legal name, but everybody called him “Papa,” according to his daughter, Jeri Vosika. Messenger had six children, 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He and his wife had just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary Sept. 6.

“Everybody that knew my dad loved him. He was one of the most selfless men you’ll ever meet,” Vosika tells “He would give anybody the shirt off his back. He had the biggest heart, and everything he ever did in life was for his family.”

Messenger had been employed with the Bonneville County Road and Bridge Department for the past 10 years. He was operating a bulldozer near the Ririe Reservoir on Sept. 28 around 10:45 a.m. when the machine went off a hillside and flipped on top of him. He died shortly afterward.

Courtesy Jeri Vosika

Road and Bridge employees from several jurisdictions gathered with Messenger’s family and friends Saturday for his funeral at the Rexburg Cemetery. His brother, Boyd Messenger, provided his last ride with the casket being carried on a semi-truck. Bulldozers and other equipment were parked near Messenger’s burial plot as a tribute. The procession from Rigby to Rexburg was more than a mile long, Messenger’s family said.

Courtesy Jeri Vosika

In addition to his job with the county, Messenger farmed and raised cattle and pigs. He would often sell the animals without making a profit so others could have meat in their freezers.

“He absolutely loved farming and his cows. We always joked that he was only supposed to have so many cows in a herd because he’d go to the auctions and sneak another one in,” Vosika recalls.

Messenger always had “a million irons in the fire” and could fix just about anything. He collected old machines and parts and spent his free time working on trucks or repairing tractors.

“He was the kind of guy that if the neighbor needed hay baled, he would do it. He was just amazing,” Vosika says.

Vosika says her dad was a practical jokester known for his “smart-aleck comments.” He would spray his coworkers with the water trucks, and in the winter, when they would turn on their cars to warm them up, he would sneak in and blast the air conditioner.

“I really don’t know what we’re going to do without him,” Vosika says. “He is going to be greatly missed by all.”