Olive Marie “Polly” Thiringer

POLLYOlive Marie Burger ( or “Polly” as we all knew her) was born on April 28, 1915 in Menlo, Kansas. She passed away on July 10, 2014 at Hillcrest in Wray, CO at the age of 99 years and 73 days. Polly was the middle child and only daughter of Earl and Ruth Burger. Polly was blessed with two brothers, older brother, Leslie and young brother, JD.When Polly was born, her brother Leslie was asked what he thought of his baby sister. He replied that as far as he was concerned all babies did was eat, sleep, cry and mess their pants, so he decided that he would rather have a puppy! Fortunately, as Polly grew up, Leslie discovered that she could do lots of other things and was much more useful than he had first thought. Polly was five when her younger brother, JD was born. She love helping her mother take care of JD and he was her baby, a living breathing baby doll to carry around everywhere! Polly attended and graduated from Menlo High School in 1933. She received her teaching certificate from Fort Hays State Teacher college in Hays, KS. Her Bachelor of Arts degree was earned from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO. She worked on her Masters at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. Polly’s first teaching job was in her hometown of Menlo in 1936.

In that same year of 1936, Polly met the love of her life – Elmer Thiringer. Elmer was the manager of Foster Lumber Company in Menlo and would just happen to be outside sweeping the sidewalk of the business every morning as Polly would pass by on her walk to her teaching job at the Menlo school. When Elmer finally convinced Polly to go out with him, things fell into place and they were married on August 2, 1939. They were scheduled to be the first couple married in the brand new Methodist Church in Menlo. Unfortunately, just before the wedding, the church burned down due to some faulty wiring. All of the plans and preparations for the wedding had to be picked up and moved down the road to Elmer’s church in Herndon, KS. Soon after their marriage, Fosters closed the Menlo lumber yard and transferred Elmer to the Foster Lumber Company in Stratton, CO. Polly was teaching junior high school, so she stayed in Menlo to finish out the school year, and Elmer stayed at a rooming house in Stratton until Polly could move with him. Elmer almost caused a scandal in the small town when he asked Polly to come to Stratton for a town dance, and Mrs. Brown, the lady who owned the rooming house thought he was going out with a beautiful girl in his wife’s absence. Polly hadn’t been able to stay in town long enough to meet Mrs. Brown, so when she returned home to Menlo she received a frantic call from Elmer telling her that she had to come back to Stratton quick! Mrs. Brown was chewing him out and telling everyone in town what a cad he was for taking that beautiful young redhead to the dance. The next weekend, Polly returned to Stratton and put Mrs. Brown’s mind and mouth to rest and assured her that she was indeed Elmer’s wife. While living in Stratton, Elmer and Polly were blessed with a son, Dennis Lee, in January of 1943.

On July 1, 1946, The Thiringer family moved to Wray, CO. They purchased a bulk gasoline business and service station that had been closed during the war. They named it Wray Oil Company and owned and operated it until Elmer retired in 1985. Polly always thought Wray was a great place to live even though it was quite rough in the beginning. When they moved to Wray, the only house available was extremely small, in desperate need of repair and had a yard full of weeds. When they were unpacking their things, Dennis asked his Mother if she had brought a hoe.

In 1948, Polly was asked to teach at the Prairie Vista country school north of Wray. She had 13 students in five different grades. In 1950, she began teaching in the Wray public school system at the elementary school level. She later moved to the high school where she preferred teaching. She taught English, P.E., sponsored pep club, and directed plays in her teaching career spanning a total of 31 years, 25 of those years were spent teaching in the Wray school system. Over the years she directed countless plays and directed her first musical, “Brigadoon”, at Wray High School. She and Mrs. Wanda Maurice started the WHS Thespian chapter as well as the drama club.

In 1955, Polly and Elmer built the house at 932 Paul Street where they lived the rest of their years in Wray. In 1956, they adopted their lovely daughter, Tracy. In addition to her teaching career and keeping up with her active family, Polly was also very involved in community organizations. Polly was a member of the Order of Eastern Star where she worked her way up to serve as Worthy Matron, was a member and past president of the Las Veinte club, a faithful member of the Wray United Methodist church, as was chosen as the “Woman of the Year” by the Wray Business and Professional Women’s club for 1975-76. In June of 2000, Polly was honored with the Distinguished Merit Award from the Colorado Community Theatre Coalition for her lifetime of service and achievement in community theatre.

Polly retired from teaching in 1975 but did not retire from her love of directing and producing plays. She helped care for her father who had become ill until her death. In 1976, she helped Judy Walker produce “I Love America” which was the first of many successful productions to come in Wray. In 1977, the Cliff Dwellers Acting and Singing Society was born with Gene Palmrose, Virgil and Anna Reed, and Polly and Elmer being the driving forces to get it started. Polly served on the Cliff Dwellers Board of Directors for many years with Elmer helping out behind the scenes with tasks ranging from picking up sets late at night in Greeley for a set at the Lions Amphitheatre, to helping build a stage at the Elks club for a dinner theatre production. Polly directed 18 productions for the Cliff Dwellers. Twelve were regular plays and six were musicals. Several of the first musicals were done at the Wray Lions Amphitheatre. Others were done at the Wray Community hall, Wray Elks Club and Kitzmiller Auditorium. Whether a musical, dinner, theatre, or just a play, Polly took each production with energy and experience and even though she had retired from school. she was still teaching!

Preceding her in death were her husband of 54 years, Elmer, son, Dennis Lee, daughter, Tracy, parents, Earl and Ruth Burger, brother, Leslie and wife, Ethel, brother, JD and wife, Virginia, father-in law and mother-in-law, John and Theresia Thiringer, sister-in-law, Helen Thiringer, sister-in-law, Elsie Macfee and husband, Clark, sister-in-law, Mildred Cox and husband, Harlan, brother-in-law, Kenneth Thiringer and wife, Edna, and sister-in-law, Hilda Morthole and husband, Harley.

She is survived by her granddaughter, Amy Dahlseid and husband, Chad, great-grandsons, Aaron and Brett, and a host of nieces, nephews and many good friends. She wished to thank all those friends who called on the phone or came by to visit. Polly wanted to make sure that a special group of caretakers were thanked for their special friendship. Without their love and care she would not have been able to stay in her own home until the last ten days of her life.

I came across this a couple of weeks ago and I think it is very fitting for the way Polly felt about her friends.

Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in you life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.

Funeral services were held Friday, July 25, 2014, 10:00 a.m. at the Wray United Methodist Church in Wray, Colorado with Rev. Norman Stott officiating. Interment was held in the Grandview Cemetery in Wray, Colorado. Memorials may be made to the Cliff Dwellers. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Gwendol “Gwen” Murphy

gwenmurphy_edited-1Gwendol “Gwen” Florence (Holst) Murphy was born the second child to Emil and Lorraine Holst. She started her journey through life March 14, 1931 during a nasty blizzard in Hartley, Iowa. At the age of two she and her infant sister contracted pneumonia. Gwen received a second chance in life but unfortunately her sister passed on. Gwen passed away at the age of 83 after a lengthy illness on July 9, 2014 while a resident at Hillcrest Care Center, Wray, Colorado.

Gwen grew up in a little town in North West Iowa by the name of Harris. Before graduating from Harris High School she enjoyed many activities. One of her favorite was basketball, which she excelled in and was fortunate enough to play on a winning team which traveled from Iowa to Texas to play. While a young woman she spent a lot of her time with family doing special things. One of her favorites was going to Lake Okoboji and roller skating at Arnolds Park with her brother. In 1949, Gwen continued her education by attending a business college in Omaha, NE. While in Omaha she worked for a company called Mutual, attended the United Methodist Church, and enjoyed the churches youth fellowship groups.

While attending a youth fellowship activity she met the love of her life. Charles L. (Chuck) Murphy and Gwen were married June 17, 1951 in Harris, Iowa. To this union were born two sons, Steven and Stanley, and on daughter, Barbara. They started their married life on a farm near Chuck’s parent’s farm in South Central NE. An opportunity arose in Gwen’s home town of Harris to purchase a grocery store. They moved to Iowa and operated the store for a couple years. They decided it wasn’t their forte so when an opportunity for Chuck presented itself they moved the family to Ragan, NE where Gwen became a homemaker. In 1964, they moved from Ragan, NE to McDonald, KS, and in 1968 on to Wray, CO.

After moving to McDonald Gwen happened onto a hobby that carried through most of her life. She became an accomplished painter. If you were to visit any family member or friend’s home you would find her beautiful art adorning their walls.

Gwen was employed by several local businesses in Wray before purchasing her own clothing store. she operated the Mode-O-Day / Fashion Crossroads until her retirement. With time on her hands Gwen could bake up her specialties, donut holes and cookies. Retirement gave them the time to relax and travel. They especially enjoyed the time they spent with her siblings and their spouses. Chuck and Gwen really enjoyed being around people so when offered the position to manage the Wray Country Club Pro Shop it was the natural thing for them to do.

Gwen was preceded in death by her loving husband, her parents, and infant sister Judith. She was also preceded by three great grandchildren, twins, Cole and Cooper Schoenthal and Ryan Dale Murphy, all born at rest.

She is survived by son, Steven (Kelly) Murphy, son, Stanley (Jo) Murphy of Wellfleet, NE, and daughter, Barbara (Dick) Dodson of Elwood, NE, brother, Dalbert (Liz) Holst of Spirit Lake, IA, sister, Beverly (Chuck) Woodworth of Milford, IA.

She is also survived by nine grandchildren, Dawn (Luis) Ramos of Killeen, TX, Dana (Frank) Miller of Valentine, NE, Matthew Dodson of Elwood, NE, Shelly Hardesty, Laura Murphy (Brandon Schoenthal), Shari (Tommy) Bolio of Benkelman, NE, Nikki (Malcom) Dornhoff of Hartwell, NE, Sheila (Jeremy) Lutz of Windsor, CO and Justin Dodson of Elwood, NE.

Also surviving, Gwen are eighteen great grandchildren, Alex and Michael Ramos; Nathan, KayLynn, Cody, and Casey Miller; Taelyn Pritchard; Alea and Ty Hardesty; Audrey Watkins, Bryant and Alivia Schoenthal; Patrick Murphy; Makenna and Marah Dornhoff; and Gracie, Lillie and Blake Lutz.

Gwen’s favorite saying was, “What a wonderful life.”

She passed away July 9, 2014 at Hillcrest Care Center in Wray, Colorado. A Memorial service was held Monday, July 14, 2014, 2:30 p.m. at the Wray United Methodist Church in Wray, Colorado with Rev. Norman Stott officiating. A joint inurnment was held for Chuck and Gwen in the Grandview Cemetery in Wray, Colorado after Gwen’s Memorial Service. Memorials may be made to Hospice of the Plains, P.O. Box 365, Wray, Colorado 80758. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Rick Schorzman

SCHORZMAN, RICKRick L. Schorzman was born November 6, 1951 in Benkelman, Nebraska to Robert and Doris (Wiley) Schorzman. He grew up and attended school in Haigler, Nebraska graduating from Haigler High School in 1970. He enjoyed football, basketball and track during his high school years.

After high school he attended Nebraska Technical College in Milford, Nebraska graduating in 1971 with a degree in Motor Vehicle Technology. After college graduation he worked at White Machine and Motor in Goodland, Kansas until 1973.

In October of 1973, Rick married Deb Smith in Haigler, Nebraska. Rick and Deb made their home in Deb’s hometown of Wray, Colorado. At that time Rick went to work for Charlie Adamson as a mechanic.

Gary Stone later appointed Rick as his Deputy Clerk and Recorder. Gary and Rick spent their coffee breaks with the guys at the Sheriff’s office. That is when Sheriff Bob Murphy lured Rick into coming to work for him as a deputy. Rick had finally found his true calling in law enforcement and started his 38 year career serving the citizens of Yuma County.

Rick graduated with honors from the Colorado Law Enforcement Academy in Golden, Colorado in 1979.

Rick eventually left the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department and joined the Wray Police Department. Working his way up the ranks he became the Chief of Police of the City of Wray and served the City of Wray for 16 years.

Sheriff Bruce Zulauf convinced Rick to come back to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department where Rick served until 2013.

Rick’s pride and joy was his daughter, Heather, born in 1974. A few years down the road Heather blessed him with two grandchildren, Katie and Corey. They were the love of his life.

Over the years Rick was active in Jaycees, as a D.A.R.E. instructor, EMT for the Wray Ambulance, River City Cruisers and road with the Patriot Guard Riders.

He enjoyed many activities during his lifetime, hunting, fishing, trapping, NASCAR, fast cars and fast motorcycles. He looked forward each year to the annual trip to Kansas City Race Way with his brother, Danny.

Rick and Deb owned and operated Schorzman Small Engine Repair part-time for many years.

He suffered many major health issues over the years but he always came out the winner and came back strong. He lost the final battle on June 28 at his home in Wray with his wife at his side.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Bob and Doris.

Those left behind to celebrate his life are his wife, Deb; daughter, Heather and husband, Larry Schiferl of Evans, Colorado; grandchildren, Katie Lynn Rogers of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Corey Rogers of Evans, Colorado; sister, Kathie and husband, Ron Fry of Alliance, Nebraska; brothers, Bob and wife Laverne of Tucson, Arizona; Dan and wife, Deb of Benkelman, Nebraska; mother and father-in-law, Frank and Shirley Smith of Wray.  And a host of other family members and friends all of which were dear to Rick.

Rick is now riding that Harley in the wind.

He passed away Saturday, June 28, 2014 in Wray, Colorado. Funeral services were held on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at the Wray United Methodist Church, 10:00 a.m. with Rev. Norman Stott officiating. Interment was held in the Grandview Cemetery in Wray, Colorado. Memorials may be made to the Wray Volunteer Fire Department. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


Wanda M. Jacobson

WANDA JACOBSONWanda Mae Howard was born December 17, 1932 to Roy William and Irene Elizabeth (Hoover) Howard in St. Francis, Kansas.  She passed away at the Wray Community District Hospital in Wray, Colorado on June 13, 2014.

Wanda Mae Howard married John E. Jacobson on April 17, 1952. They had three children, Lyle D. Jacobson, Gail M. Oleson and Lewis J. Jacobson.  She loved her art, painting with oils, gardening and helping others. She was a bookkeeper for the family business, John’s 66. She loved to grow flowers and could always be seen working in her yard on Main Street. The house was always open to family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband,  John E. Jacobson and son, Lyle D. Jacobson in May 1983.

She is survived by her daughter, Gail Oleson, son, Lewis Jacobson, sisters, Marion Howard Crites, Orpha Howard Brown, brother, Ray Howard,  grandson, Jeremy Jacobson, granddaughter, Danielle Goodman Cunningham, three great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and numerous great nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was held Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 2:00 p.m. at the Wray United Methodist Church in Wray, Colorado with Rev. Norman Stott officiating. A Private Family Inurnment will be held in the Grandview Cemetery in Wray, Colorado. Memorials may be made to the Wray Art Guild. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home in Wray was in charge of arrangements.

Lorin Junior Selby

JR SELBY PHOTOLorin Junior Selby was born on Feb 6, 1946 in Wray Colorado to Lorin and Vera Selby.  He passed away June 16, 2014 at his home in Sugar City, Colorado after a long battle with cancer.

He grew up on the family farm south of Wray and graduated from Wray High School in 1964.  Following the death of his father he worked on the family farm until the 1980s.  He moved to Arizona in the 1980’s and operated a dry cleaners.  In the early 1990’s he moved to Sugar City where he served part-time on the town council while driving a truck for a living.  He served on the Sugar City town council and was instrumental in obtaining a grant to build a new town hall.  While driving truck he injured his back and retired in Sugar City.   

Junior was a member of the Methodist Church, as well as the Masonic Lodge and the Elks.  He was a past member of the Jaycees and built a motorcycle track as a fundraiser.  He enjoyed playing pitch and talking about cattle and farming with his friends.  He was a private pilot and member of Flying Farmers. 

Junior was married to Pat Willig (Ramseier) and they had one son, Justin.  Justin married and gave Junior three grandchildren – Andrew, Jacob, and Gabriella. 

Junior was preceded in death by his parents Lorin and Vera Selby and his son Justin.

His survivors include Justin’s wife, Olivia and his three grandchildren of Excelsior Springs, Missouri and John and Theo Selby of Gilbert, Arizona. 

A graveside service and inurnment will be held on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Grandview Cemetery in Wray, Colorado. Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.