RONALD ELWIN RETHERFORD was born July 19, 1930, in Shaw, Colorado. He was the third son of Marion Ellis Retherford and Ruby Catherine Barnett.
Ron was well known in his youth for a sense of humor and fun-loving nature. Some of his fun pranks included rounding up watermelons from neighbors’ gardens, eating them, and leaving the rinds on the library lawn. If you asked Ron how he was feeling, his standard reply was “worse.” When asked why he was feeling worse, he would explain, “so I can get more sympathy.”
Ronald served his country in the Army from October 1951 to August 1953.
He met his sweetheart, Janice K. Grimes, while she was waitressing at the Highway Café in Akron, Colorado. With the help of another waitress at the café, Janice and two girlfriends were passing notes back and forth with three guys sitting at the opposite end of the horseshoe counter. Little did Ron know that the waitress helping pass notes was Jan’s mother, and her father sat with them at the counter.
Jan took off work on her birthday, and Ron went to the café to see her. Later he asked her where she’d been. Jan told him she’d gone to the movies with a girlfriend for her birthday. Ron said, “Well, I’d have taken you out if I knew it was your birthday,” and that’s how it all began. When Ron asked to take Jan on dates, her parents consented, but only on the condition that her mother come along everywhere they went. Ron was not deterred, and they became a courting threesome.
Ron and Jan were married on August 12, 1956, in Akron, Colorado. Ron’s work as a telephone system installer for Western Electric, involved moving from place to place to install phone equipment all over the southwestern United States. Some of their temporary hometowns included Ruidoso, New Mexico; Price, Utah; Sheridan, Wyoming (where their daughter, Debbi was born); Tucson, Arizona (where their son Rick joined the family); with them finally settling in El Paso, Texas.
In 1982 they moved to Stover, Missouri, and over the years built and expanded their two-bedroom home into a 7-bedroom farmhouse with room for the kids and grandkids to come and stay during holidays and summer breaks. Ron’s carpentry skills were put to good use, as he designed the expansive floorplan with pencil and paper. Once the house was constructed, he built and installed custom cabinets, bookshelves, and shelving in nearly every room in the house. He also built many stylish furniture pieces for his children and grandchildren.
Ron loved music, and could play a variety of instruments, including the piano, harmonica, accordion, dulcimer, and guitar. He loved to entertain friends and family. Later in life he joined a group of musicians who played once a week in an antique store in California, Missouri. It was the highlight of his week to play in the “jam sessions” each Friday.
Ron and Jan spent many hours playing cribbage, card games, and dominoes in their home. Anyone who played games with Ron had to be prepared for his dry sense of humor and teasing. Some of his famous quips include: “I would tell the truth seven different ways before I’d lie about it.” If someone was beating him at the game, he was known to tell them, “There’s a stagecoach coming to town at midnight. Be under it.”
Ron loved to debate with his son, Rick, often changing sides in the middle of the debate, and arguing the other side as passionately as he did his own. That was half the fun of debating.
Ron also loved to tease his daughter, Debbi, by telling her, “you are almost my favorite daughter.” For years she wondered who is his favorite daughter. Later she caught on and would reply, “You’re almost my favorite daddy.”
When asked about his age, Ron would state that he was “still 19,” and would add “I would have been 20, but I was sick a year.” If you tried asking him how he could be only 19 and have children who were over 50 or 60, he would reply, “Those are my first wife’s kids.”
Ron had a quiet, generous heart. He often took part in random acts of kindness for his community and church family, but no one was the wiser. He also loved to serve at chicken barbecues to help raise funds for the church. Humility and integrity defined his character. He had a love of God and a desire to be a good husband, father, and grandfather.
Ronald Elwin Retherford was preceded in death by his two brothers, Jim Retherford (Betty) and Bill Retherford; as well as his sister, Shirley Chapin (Bob). He is survived by his wife, Janice Retherford; daughter, Debbi Logan (Glen) of New Iberia, LA; his son, Rick Retherford (Heidi) of Morrison, CO; and his brother-in-law, Gene Grimes, of Rantoul, Kansas. In addition, he has four grandchildren, nine greatgrandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
A viewing will be held on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 12654 W. Belleview Avenue, Littleton, Colorado. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. in the same building. Immediately after the services, internment will take place at Evergreen Memorial Park at 26624 N. Turkey Creek Road, Evergreen, CO.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be given to a food pantry in Stover, Missouri, to help those in need. Please make checks payable to “Ministerial Alliance” and send payments to the Stover United Methodist Church, PO Box 138, Stover, MO 65078.
Topic: Ron Retherford Memorial Service