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Families linked for generations

Oct 13, 2016 By Betty Starks Case

Ron Groathouse was our friend, as were his forebears

Ron Groathouse has passed on. He was well known and loved from Pavillion to Riverton and beyond, as is his family.

Ron was, as he was raised to be, a faithful, conscientious worker around Riverton. He saw when help was needed. Where some acknowledged it and did nothing, Ron responded.

That's the same description we heard from Pavillion people when the family lived there, where Ron, his brother Dick and sister Linda attended school.

Today, in tribute to Ron, I share how deeply his family affected our lives. Our connections, sometimes through generations, are long and memorable, the readiness to help others indelible.

My mother was fourth-grade teacher to Ron's sister, Linda. Conscientious to the core, Mother once shared with me that while she knew teachers should not have "pets," Linda was a most special child to her.

My family knew the the Schambers, the family of Ron's mother, Evelyn, in South Dakota before we all ventured out to Wyoming. I have a fond memory of Evelyn and her twin sister, Dorothy, coming to our home with their father one day at about age 4, dressed in beautiful outfits made by their mother, Marie. Though I was a freshman in high school, I'd never seen twins before. I was totally fascinated.

My family's Dakota connections extend even further. Our dad leased a farm owned by Ron's great-grandfather. There, we lived in a house we loved, built by Grandpa Schamber himself - a kitchen with a large pantry, dining and living rooms, bordered at the back by three bedrooms, a creek and whispering trees.

It was a great treat after years in our "little house on the prairie" where trees could only be seen as ghostly figures on a distant ranch.

Ron Groathouse probably never knew his great-grandpa, but his family might be interested to know that we did. Grandpa Schamber was our mail carrier when we lived on the Sioux prairie lease. Although he told us he was not supposed to give people rides, a cold, snowy day sometimes pulled "Grandpa" to a stop to give a lift to three little girls on their two-mile trek home from a country school.

In South Dakota, Ron Groathouse's great uncle, John Schamber, was my father's best friend. Both hard-working country men, my dad and John loved to laugh and often relieved their stresses by assuming imaginary characters. When John became "Donegan" and my dad "Bill Priff." they could forget for a while that they had no water for crops, no feed for hungry cattle, and carried on a creative conversation laced with fantasy and roaring laughter.

In Wyoming, John's family found the blessed irrigation water. John urged my dad to come and sent his son with a truck to help us move to Wyoming. They helped build our first home here.

John's brother, Albert, father of Evelyn Groathouse, moved his family to Wyoming around the same time.

In Wyoming, Ned and I attended high school, dances and other social activities in Pavillion with Perle and Evelyn, who were married about the same time as we and became Ron's parents. Our friendship continued through the years.

Today, we remember Ron Groathouse as a planner, one who made things happen. Although it has been years since any of us graduated from the original Pavillion High School, every three years Ron would call a meeting with the question, "Isn't it about time we get another reunion under way?"

This past spring when Ron phoned to ask Ned and me to help with the planning, I tried to duck the responsibility with age as an excuse.

"You can still talk, can't you?" Ron asked.

He didn't see an excuse there. With the help of friends and former classmates, Ron led us to one of the most colorful, exciting reunions a school ever experienced.

We last saw and visited with Ron at a post-reunion meeting a couple of months ago to analyze and plan an even better event three years from now.

That's how Ron operated. Health problems haunted him through the years, but he never let them stop him from making events come to life for others.

Our tribute to Ron includes not only warm memories of his extended family, but the clear ringing message he left that nothing's impossible.

And if someone is in need, it's even more possible.

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2017-10-22