Celebrating lives well lived
About Bill and Anna Dodge
A combined graveside memorial service for longtime residents of Granada and Lamar, Colorado, Anna B. Dodge and William “Bill” Dodge will be held at 10:00AM on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at the Hillside Cemetery in Granada, Colorado.
Bill and Anna are survived by their daughter, Deanna Steward of Thornton, Colorado; grandchildren, William “Bill” (Tracie) Steward of Granada, and Anna Lynn Corbett of Thornton, Colorado; six great-grandchildren, Amber (Shane) Shepard, Daniel (Stephanie) Krizek, Ashlee Warwick, Brandie (Jason) Miller, Cody James (Rachel) Steward, and Samantha Steward; Eleven great-great grandchildren as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other family and a host of friends.
Bill was born William Arthur Dodge, in Prowers County, Colorado, October 14, 1918. The only child to James Jefferson Dodge, and Margaret Sara (Davis) Dodge of Granada. He said he was born in a boxcar. In October of 1918, WWI was ending and the Spanish Flu Pandemic was in full bloom. It is very possible that he was actually born in a boxcar. If you knew Bill Dodge, then you knew that what he said was always the truth. Bill attended the Plum Creek country school, and got there by horse and buggy. He graduated from Granada High School, as well as Lamar Junior College, where he studied Veterinary Science and earned a degree in agriculture.
He would say, “Hard work won’t kill you, but hardly working might.” Bill worked hard all of his life. He was up early, and stayed up to see the news because he never wanted to be uninformed. In his teens, Bill worked on the Union Pacific railroad laying track. Backbreaking work that extended the railway all the way to Denver. He also worked the Dodge family ranch, 23 miles south of Granada. He drove the school bus to pay his tuition and taught other farmers agriculture in night classes at Granada High School. He worked on several committees at the courthouse in Lamar throughout his life, and took local, State, and Federal Governance very seriously.
Bill had a strong belief in his country and in God, and he always believed it to be an honor to be a citizen of the United States of America. Something worth fighting for. He flew an American flag in front of his house every day until his last. Always bringing it inside at night, and protecting it from bad weather. Always.
As the only son of a rancher, it was his course in life to take over the homestead ranch he grew up on. Bill had a natural affinity for the land and for livestock. An intuition. He relied on his gut and backed it up with hard work. He loved ranching and farming, and he never mentioned doing anything else. He had respect and patience for the land as well, He would say, “It will rain, it always has before, but sometimes we just had to wait a long time.” And he knew when he’d met his match. He would rely on his deep-seated faith and would say, “We can finish tomorrow. If tomorrow doesn’t come, I don’t guess it matters.”
Bill was a man of few words, so the words he spoke were powerful and also sometimes funny. He had a unique sense of humor. He was known for saying things like, “If you rope it, you have to take the rope off, so be careful what you start.” And, “If you don’t care enough to be on time, then why go?” Simple sentences packed with all kinds of life lessons.
Expecting the unexpected was the best way to be around Bill. His Grandson came to live with them during high school, and they would be out on horseback bringing the cows in to be worked. His grandson recounts an incident when Bill threw his hat under his horse just to make sure his grandson was paying attention. If you know anything about horses, then you understand. And Bill would often stuff a large grasshopper down the back of his granddaughter’s shirt so she’d squeal. On the flip side, he protected his family with all his might. Protecting and teaching his daughter and both of his grandchildren what they would need to be successful in their own lives. He’d say, “You don’t want to be a cowboy; you want to be a cow man. A cowboy takes care of someone else’s cows. A cow man has his own.” He taught them to be frugal, to be patient, to be kind, to be honest, to be fair, and above all else to be honorable. A man’s word is everything.
Bill Dodge did business with a handshake. He could be trusted with your life. He would give you the shirt off of his back. He was the definition of the Greatest Generation. He was born in a Pandemic. He grew up during the great depression. He endured the dust bowl years, and he survived the war. He fought for the American Dream with all of his might, and he didn’t stop until he was done.
Anna was born Anna Berthina Thompson, in Springfield, Colorado, March 28, 1920, to Homer Franklin “Frank” Thompson and Cora Clarinda (Smith) Thompson, of Lamar. She attended county schools through the 8th grade, then went to Lamar Union High School, graduating in 1938. After high school, she attended Barnes Business College in Denver, and earned a certificate in business. She grew up on the prairie as the quintessential middle child in a family of four kids.
With an older brother Morgan, and older sister Faye, and a younger brother Grover, she was pressed by her parents to be more like her older sister, but in reality, she was much more like her brothers. She liked to ride horses, and work on the ranch. But was taught the skills necessary to be the perfect housewife as well.
While in college she stayed with a family; and to earn her room and board she cleaned and cooked for the them. After college, Anna came back to Lamar and was immediately hired as a bookkeeper for the Jamison Hatchery. Anna was an excellent bookkeeper with amazing organizational skills. Soon she had a job working in the Prowers County Clerk’s office. She was a rough and tumble girl, a self-proclaimed “tomboy.” She wore dresses if absolutely necessary, but preferred her Levi’s all of her days. But no matter the attire, she wore it well.
Anna was an amazing cook. Friends, family, and even door to door salesmen would show up right at Dinner time. She was always happy to see them and would always have plenty to share including home baked pies, cakes, and cookies, with whoever was there. she was also somewhat social. She was a member of Eastern Star for many years, and a faithful member of the Star Sunday School. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior at an early age and never lost her faith.
She was known to say, “Every day is a good day,” and she truly meant it. She enjoyed her life as a rancher’s wife, as a mother, and a grandmother, and she said many times she would like to do it all over again. When asked she would tell you that she believed Jesus Christ was the Master of her fate and Captain of her soul. And if you would call her to see how she was doing, she would say, “I’m as feisty as a cricket!” And she wasn’t kidding!
Anna was a strong woman with a generous and loving spirit. She was a very patient woman, and believed in just waiting to see what tomorrow brings.
The love story…
Bill and Anna met as children when her family went to visit his family as families on the prairie often did. She said it was probably someone’s birthday, she wasn’t sure. But out on the prairie, knowing your neighbors could be a matter of life and death in some cases, so families would often cook up a meal or a pie and take it to a new neighbor. Bill and Anna took full advantage of these visits. They didn’t see each other often, but they knew of each other and Anna would often speak of how ornery Bill was chasing her and pulling at her pig tails. She said he was the cutest thing she ever saw. Anna said she fell in love with Bill when she fell out of a tree, and he was the only kid who came over to see if she was ok.
After they had finished their schooling, then began the courtship. At the time, Anna was working at the County Clerk’s office in Lamar. Bill would have to go in to town often for supplies, and while there, he would stop in to see her. She said they had picnic lunches in the back of his pickup in the parking lot at the Courthouse. It was there that he proposed to her. In the back of his pickup. She said she was sitting up on a bale of hay. She of course immediately said yes. The engagement was quick, and they set off to be married on Saturday, December 21st, the Winter Solstice, 1940. Bill’s family had only one pickup truck, so they would only have one day. He would have to be back to the ranch the next day, and Anna would need to be back at work on Monday morning, but they took the opportunity and eloped anyway.
They were headed to into Kansas to be married, but they only made it as far as Garden City. They had a flat tire, and while getting the tire fixed, they realized it would take much too long. They would not make it further. They decided to find a minister and just get married right there in Garden City. They were married in the minister’s living room. And come Monday morning, Bill was back on the ranch and his beautiful “Annie” was back at her desk at the courthouse.
Bill on the Ranch and Anna in town continued until they learned of a baby joining the family. Then Anna moved to the ranch to be with Bill. Their baby daughter, Deanna, was born in December of 1941. Then there was the war. They lived there with Bill’s parents until Bill left for the war.
Bill, along with his best friend were drafted into the Army Air corps at the start of WWII. During the war, he served as a drill sergeant for a couple years in Wichita Falls, Texas, then served in active duty the remainder of his time, stationed in the Philippines.
While a drill sergeant, he said he was hard on “them boys”. He needed to make them tough, because he knew where they were going. He saw many hardships of war, but he didn’t like to talk about it much. He and his best friend were separated after bootcamp, and his friend was killed in a training mission somewhere in England as they were preparing for the assent on Normandy. The war was an especially hard time for Bill. Some of the things he saw and experienced never left him. When he was home from the war, he said he would never leave again. He never did
WWII took its toll on the families as well as the soldiers. Anna was unhappy without Bill, and visited him when he had leave. While Bill was stationed in Texas, and as long as he was at Sheppard Field, about 2 years, Anna and her baby girl, Deanna, traveled by train from the ranch in Granada to Texas whenever they could to spend time with him. They stayed at the ranch with Bill’s parents, Jim and Mag, while Bill was overseas. Anna learned that crying wasn’t going to help anything, so she held back her tears and cried only in the shower. That became the way she lived her life. This gave her the power to do what she needed to do with an optimistic attitude and a very pleasant demeaner. Anna never said an unkind thing about any person, alive or dead.
The war years were rough, but all of it ended up making them stronger. When Bill came home, his baby daughter was no longer a baby, and the world as they knew it had substantially changed. They began a long and happy life together, mixing the strengths they had individually into one unbreakable team.
They continued their life as ranchers. Bill’s parents, Jim and Mag, retired, and moved to Lamar. This left Anna with the home she had always dreamed of. Bill and Anna worked together side by side day in and day out. Talking and laughing, and living the life they were intended to live. After harvest, they would split the crop equally between them, then sit at the kitchen table listening at noon to the futures on the radio. Each deciding when to sell their half. Sometimes he’d do better, sometimes she’s do better. But it was always a good time.
They enjoyed doing whatever the day called for. Anna loved the prairie. She loved the beautiful sunsets, the whispering winds, wet or dry it was always beautiful to her. They built on to the family homestead giving Anna a big kitchen facilitating a large table with room for all. In her kitchen she had a big picture window. She would enjoy spending her limited spare time looking out across the prairie. When she finally moved to town, that was what she said she missed the most. Her favorite chore was helping Bill with the cattle, on horseback! Anna was incredible on horseback, and could do any type of work a man could do. She would bring in the cows, and work right alongside the men with ease. Then she would go inside the house and make supper for the entire crew. All while keeping her house so clean and tidy you could literally eat off of the kitchen floor. She would say, “The best cleaner is good old-fashioned elbow grease.”
They loved their family and loved when they would visit. Bill would have his Grandkids standing up next to him in the pickup from the time they could walk. Anna especially loved the babies. She would spend hours rocking every single one. And as their family grew up, they found joy in hearing about every tiny thing they did. Because to them, family was the reason they did what they did, and the reward for their hard work. Anna thought it best to never go to bed angry, or with dirty dishes in the sink.
When they were much older and moved to town, they left the ranch in the capable hands of their grandson. They proceeded to enjoy a more relaxed way of life and Sundays with friends playing dominos. They were both in their 90’s when Bill’s considerably worn body began to fail him. And when it was time for him to go, he decided he did not want to be buried without his beautiful Annie. He passed away on December 23rd, 2011. He wanted to wait for her. Before he passed, when asked if he had any regrets in his life, he said, “I wish I had married Annie sooner.”
He thought it would be nice if they would have their service together, just as they lived their lives. So, he was cremated and put in wait. But Anna wasn’t quite ready. She put a candle by his picture, and proceeded to read the bible from cover to cover. She got her house in order. She said she had a dream that Bill met her at the pearly gates and said, “Honey, what took you so long.” Then she would giggle. Anna passed away on May 12, 2020. Now together for eternity. Just the way it’s supposed to be.
“If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”