Bumgarner family patriarch dies at 98
June 8, 2010
Welton Bumgarner died May 12, 2010, at Cliffview Assisted Living Center in Kremmling. He was born in Russell, Kan., on Dec. 9, 1913, to Amon and Nancy Bumgarner. In 1929, the start of the Dust Bowl and Depression, Clarence Reiff, Welton’s half brother, moved to Kremmling for a chance at a better life.
Welton moved to Kremmling on Dec. 7, 1929, two days before his 16th birthday, and finished high school receiving his diploma from his former school in Russell. Welton’s parents moved to Colorado the following spring and leased a place south of Kremmling in the Blue River Valley. They raised oats, potatoes and started a dairy selling the milk in Kremmling.
Three years later, Welton’s father, Amon, bought a 160-acre homestead called the Carpenter Place; they borrowed $1,600 to pay for it. Amon worked in the timber and Welton worked for Grand County to raise enough money to pay for the land. In the following years additional land was acquired on the Trough Road as well as several ranches on the Troublesome River.
In 1942 Welton married Helen Stafford and the newlyweds settled down on the Pickering Ranch on the Troublesome River. Helen Stafford was born in 1916 and was descended from two Centennial families. Her grandfather came to the Blue River Valley in the 1880s where he homesteaded and purchased his ranch. His son Frank Stafford, Helen’s father, ran a grocery store on the ranch next to Highway 9 and was a Grand county commissioner. Helen’s mother Alice, was the daughter of Frank J. Smith who had come to the Spring Creek area to homestead a couple of years after the Staffords came to the area. The fact that both the Staffords and the Smiths had large families meant that Welton and Helen would have lots of relatives.
In subsequent years Welton and Helen had three sons on the home place; Welton Thomas born in 1943, Ronald Reuben born in 1946, and Gary Wade born in 1954. In Welton’s immediate family he was preceded in death by his mother, Nancy, in 1946, his son, Ronald Reuben, in 1954, his father, Amon in 1959, and his wife, Helen, in 2003.
Welton was blessed with a life we all hope to have for our own. He knew early in his life what he wanted to do and spent his life living for that goal. There was a philosopher who lived in the last half of the 20th century, Joseph Campbell, who spent his life studying diverse cultures and people to find what we have in common. He said we are trying to “find our passion.” That thing we want to give our lives to pursuing above all else and if we find it, we will know why we are here. If there is a sentence that would sum up Welton’s life it would be, he wanted to ranch and pass it on to his family.
Welton wrote a journal to several family members about his relationship with them he wanted to pass on his passion to all of us, he wrote, “We encouraged you to ranch because that is all we knew about.” He talked about the Depression and how it shaped his attitude toward money – “always have a portion of what you make, invest it, and don’t spend the interest. It is like eating your children. Whoever you are working for give them your best effort and be loyal to them. If you don’t like what they are doing then quit and then you can say what you want.” He taught me by example how to treat and respect your wife. He told me how he met Mom when she came over to the Carpenter place with her brother. After 60 years he still remembered what she was wearing that day, black slacks and a white blouse, and how perfect she looked on his ranch.
As the service was approaching and we walked around town the word that people used to describe dad was that he was a gentleman. Our cousin Rick Cantril wrote, “I will always remember Uncle Welton as an exemplary husband, father, grandfather, and gentle Christian spirit. I truly admired his commitment and love in caring for Aunt Helen. Uncle Welton’s life has blessed all who have had the good fortune to know him. I can only imagine that God greeted him with the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
In closing I would say that Dad and Mom are together again and that they are at peace. May it be so with us as well. – Tom Bumgarner
Welton was a former Kremmling Rotary president, a member of the Kremmling Community Church, was a founding member of the Middle Park Medical Foundation along with its first president, served on the Soil Conservation Board, the Bureau of Land Management board, was a member of the Middle Park Wool Growers, Middle Park Stock Growers, 4-H club leader, and also school board on Troublesome, Westgrand Educational Foundation.
Welton is survived by two sons; Welton Thomas Bumgarner and his wife Cheryl Lynn Bumgarner along with Gary Wade Bumgarner and his wife Jennifer Lee Bumgarner. Four grandchildren: Stacey Renee Bumgarner and her fiance Travis Martin, Johnathan Wade Bumgarner and his wife Rachel Ellen Bumgarner, Christina Lee Bumgarner and her fiance Michael Allen Lockhart, and Kimberly Ann Bumgarner. Four great-grandchildren: Kaylee Ellen Bumgarner, Natalie Marie Bumgarner, Kyler Allen Lockhart, and Landon Gary Lockhart. He is also survived by a cousin Emagene Hedgpeth, two sisters-in-law, Alice Cantril and Rita Belle Stafford; along with all of his other nieces, nephews, and friends.
Funeral services were held May 21, 2010, along with a Memorial Services at West Grand High School. Interment took place May 21, 2010, in Kremmling Cemetery.
Memorial Gifts may be made to Cliffview Assisted Living or Kremmling Memorial Hospital or West Grand Educational Foundation.