Ray Roy Garton
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July 20, 1923 - February 9, 2013
Ray Roy Garton, 89, died Saturday at his home in Pocatello.
He was born in Arkansas on July 20, 1923, and moved at an early age with his parents Alvin and Marie Garton to Cañon City, Colorado, a setting that instilled in him a lifetime love of the outdoors. The day after graduating from high school in 1943, Ray joined the Army. He was unceremoniously advanced to acting corporal on his second day of basic training when a hungover sergeant was unable to lead the recruits in morning exercises and singled Ray out to do so.
Ray's company was shipped off to England in December 1943, where secret preparations for the D-Day invasion were being formulated. His unit hit the beaches on the third wave, where they witnessed the countless dead who had preceded them. His company pushed back the German forces through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and into Germany in the largest and bloodiest battle fought during World War II, the Battle of the Bulge.
As the German defeat became imminent, Ray was offered an opportunity to run a beer hall for troops in Maastricht, Holland, which was greatly more appealing than life in a foxhole. Even in this supposedly safer environment, Ray once was forced to hold a gang of marauding thugs at bay with two pocket knives, and to pull his .45 pistol on an armed Russian border security soldier at a Berlin checkpoint who was eager to steal gas Ray and his fellow soldier needed to get back to base.
Ray was honorably discharged, still an active corporal, in January 1946, having been awarded three bronze stars and other commendations during his three-year hitch. He returned to Colorado, where he married his high school sweetheart, Loave Hamilton, on March 17, 1946. Their daughter, Kathy, was born in January of 1947, sharing her mother's birth date. The family moved to Pocatello in 1949, and celebrated the birth of the their second child, Rod, later that year. The family grew in the next years with the births of David and Sally.
Ray worked for Garrett Freightlines for more than 30 years, where he rose to a leadership position in the labor union, advocating for better wages and hours for his fellow workers. He eventually was elevated to a management position. In his later years there, he worked the graveyard shift while he ran his day business, Ray's Pump Service, digging and servicing local wells. His reputation as a diligent and fair man was well known in the Pocatello community.
Ray was an avid hunter and fisherman. For much of their youth, his children recall that it was a rare event to eat meat that Ray or Loave, who also hunted with him, had not harvested in the hills and draws of Southeast Idaho. Ray was especially fond of the water, which he traveled upon in his beloved boat, Spook, for many an adventure. He took time off every fall to fish below the American Falls reservoir and tie into lunker trout. Ray snow skied, water skied, ice skated, was an accomplished horseman, and was also fond of taking Loave for a spin on the dance floor when the opportunity presented itself.
Ray knew the value of hard work, and believed that a generous application of elbow grease, baling wire and duct tape could lick just about any problem.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Loave; his sisters Lila Dee (Joe) and Shirley (Virgil) of Colorado; his children, Kathy (Dwight) Horsch of Pocatello, Rod (Carol) Garton of Aberdeen, Dave Garton of Pocatello, and Sally (Jay R.) Thomson of Chubbuck; his grandchildren Holly Horsch and Tiffany (John) Bulger of Pocatello, Lori (Chris) Rewczuk of Omaha, Neb., Doug (Kelly) Garton of Chicago, Mandy (Jeff) Gage of Boise, Jason (Tera) Bolen of Dallas, Heather (Tony) Rodgers of Pocatello, Lacy (Kevin) Garton of Pocatello, Heidi (Tony) Meier of Twin Falls, Katrina (Marco) Darner of Pocatello; and 24 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.
The family wishes to express its gratitude for the care and warmth his home health care provider, Kara Yost, showed him in the last months.
A remembrance service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at River of Life Church, 1211 S. 5th Ave. in Pocatello.
Ray warmed both hands before the fire of life. Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord.
Published in Idaho State Journal from Feb. 12 to Feb. 13, 2013