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Ellis Eugene Royat

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Ellis Eugene Royat Obituary

December 27, 1922 - May 1, 2014

"The End of an Era"

The death of Ellis Royat closes a chapter in the history of Dobbins, and Yuba County in general. Ellis was born on December 27, 1922, at the Royat Ranch below Lake Francis, with a midwife in attendance. His parents, Dick and Leta (Quenell) Royat, were both second generation residents of the Dobbins area. She was born in Indiana Ranch in 1889, and Dick was born on the Royat property in 1887, in the area encompassed by Lake Francis today. Ellis was the last remaining Dobbins native, who was also a World War II veteran, from his era.

Ellis went to elementary school in Dobbins, and attended the Dobbins High School as a freshman. The next year, 1937, the school was closed, and Ellis had to stay in Marysville to attend high school. Later, a bus, driven by his younger brother, Ernie, transported the students to Marysville High School. During his youth Ellis was involved in 4-H and was a Yuba County All-Star in 1939. That year he finished high school, and graduated from Yuba College in 1941. He worked for the California Division of Forestry that summer as a fire truck driver, then began a long career with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

In 1943, he was drafted and assigned to a Tank Destroyer Unit in Texas. Just weeks before Ellis was due to go overseas, his older brother, Lawrence, already in the Army, advised Ellis to get into the newly formed Army Air Corps. Ellis then requested reassignment. The Captain knew nothing about the new service, but he obtained the transfer for Ellis within two weeks.

After completing intensive schooling in English, History, Geography, etc. in Tempe, Arizona in late summer, 1943, Ellis went to Lincoln, Nebraska from December, 1943, through April, 1944. In October, 1943, he married Marie Reusser of Browns Valley, also a third generation Californian. His training in Lincoln was spent in P-38 Mechanics School. During the next two years, Ellis was assigned to the Pacific Coast Strategic Air Command and spent Summer, 1944, through April, 1945, in Santa Maria, CA. In January, 1945, Dolores was born and the family moved to Santa Rosa, where Ellis remained at the air base until the end of the war.

Immediately after his discharge, Ellis returned to work for P.G. & E. He was an operator at the Colgate Powerhouse, where there was a nearby employee apartment called the Martin House. The only access was via tram. During the next year and a half, Ellis was a "floating operator", filling in for vacations and absentees. In 1948, Ellis was sent to Bullards Bar Powerhouse to assist the head operator. Bob was born in December, 1948. The Narrows Powerhouse below Engle- bright Dam was his last assignment before being recalled to the Air Force during the Korean War in 1950.

At that time he moved Marie, Dolores, and Bob back to the ranch in Dobbins. Dick and Leta had three derelict cabins they had rented during the Depression. With a 30-day extension prior to reporting to Mather Field, Ellis and his dad renovated a two room shack into a modest one-bedroom house, complete with a "palatial outdoor privy". At the end of the Korean War, he returned to work with P.G. & E. in Dobbins, where he worked until Yuba County took over the Colgate Powerhouse in 1966, when he transferred to Marysville.

In 1976, Ellis and Marie began building a retirement house on Marie's family property, the Rice Ranch, on Bald Mountain Road, in Browns Valley. Ellis retired in 1981 and devoted his time to completing irrigation lines, maintaining a small cow herd, cutting stove wood, and numerous other projects to keep a ranch operative. When Marie retired from teaching, they were able to travel. However, their favorite pastime was fishing; using Ellis's homemade flies, they fished in creeks all over Northern California, especially in the Warner Mountains of Modoc County.

The Royat family was always passionate about hunting, and Ellis's letters sent home during the war seldom gave information about what he was doing, but instead would ask what kind of luck the hunters had during deer or quail season, or what kind of weather they had in Dobbins. For the next 40 years or so, family reunions revolved around hunting season with several trips to Colorado, Lassen and Modoc Counties, the wilderness areas surrounding LaPorte in Plumas County, and the family's summer range along the Yuba River southeast of Oregon House.

Always ready for new adventures, and new friends, Ellis was a member of Mountain Range Masonic Lodge #18, in Camptonville, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Scottish Rite, and the Ben Ali Shrine Group. The Royats helped build the Methodist Church in Dobbins, in 1958, and currently belong to the Marysville United Methodist Church.

Ellis is survived by his wife of 70 years, Marie, daughter and son-in-law, Dolores and Clarence Wager of Alturas, and son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Deb Royat of Chico. Other relatives include nieces Beverly Thomas, of Lake Havasu, AZ, and Teresa Royat, of Dobbins, and three nephews, Leonard Royat of Yuba City, Richard Royat of Fort Bragg, Gregory Royat of Chico. Grand nieces and nephews extend to the seventh generation of native Californians.

Ellis and Marie had to move to Chico in 2012, for health reasons. The family expresses its gratitude for the wonderful care Ellis received from the Enloe Medical System: The Hospital, the Hematology Laboratory, the Infusion Center, Doctor Bonis and his hematology team. Also, Ellis's assistants at the Terraces Lodge and Inn, and the fine work done at the California Park Rehabilitation and Care facility are deeply appreciated.

A private burial service will be held at Keystone Cemetery in Indiana Ranch, with a memorial service to be held in the Marysville United Methodist Church on May 31, 2014, at 11:00 AM. Donations may be made to the Shriner's Hospital, 2425 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95817, Enloe Medical Facility in Chico, or the Marysville United Methodist Church.

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Published in Appeal Democrat on May 7, 2014
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