Earl Reed "Jr" Crowner, 1916-2006

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Former longtime Yampa resident Earl Reed "Jr" Crowner died June 29, 2006, at Mesa Manor in Grand Junction. He was 89.

Earl was born Sept. 27, 1916, on a homestead ranch located between Yampa and Toponas. Earl was the eldest son of Pearl Adella Reed and Clarence Earle "C.E." Crowner.

Earl spent his childhood on the Crowner Ranch and as a young boy rode horseback to the nearby Lone Spring Country School. With his younger brother, Kirk, he milked cows to ship cream to Denver via the train and helped his family grow flowers and lettuce to be sold at the Denargo Market in Denver.

Earl graduated from Yampa Union High School and attended school for a year each at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Barnes Business School in Denver before returning to his life at the ranch.

He married Flora Mae Smith on Nov. 7, 1937, in Phippsburg. Two sons, Terry Smith and Gary Earl, were born to this union.

Earl's inventive mind designed a tanker truck that would haul gasoline in its bottom portion and freight on its flatbed top. Skeptical professional engineers said it would tip over. As a rural agent for Montgomery Ward, Earl drove his truck from the Yampa Valley to Denver for many years.

Earl farmed and ranched with his father and brother, raising lettuce, spinach, cattle and quality hay. He also helped run the Crowner and Sons lettuce packing shed in Yampa. During World War II, he remained on the ranch to provide produce for the nation and hay for the horses at the training camp of the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Pando. After the war, the Crowner families spent their winters in Yuma, Ariz., where Earl was the foreman of a lettuce field crew.

Later, he and Flora went to Phoenix, where he handled hay and straw for the Turf Paradise Race Track. The Edna Mine outside of Oak Creek hired him as a grader operator for several winters, fulfilling his love of operating heavy equipment.

Earl was secretary of the Stillwater Ditch for numerous years.

In 1942, he purchased the Reed homestead adjoining his family's homestead, and the combined properties became the Crowner Ranch until it was sold in 1998. At that time, he and his wife retired to Grand Junction.

A quiet, dependable man, Earl was very devoted to the care of his family.

Earl is preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Kirk.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Flora; two sons, Terry and his wife Susi Crowner of Yampa, and Gary, and his wife Tootie Crowner of Walden; three grandchildren, Kip, and his wife Margaret Crowner of Centennial, Angelique and her husband Greg Dieker of Parker, and Allen and his wife Theresa Crowner of Northglenn; and four great grandchildren, Melissa, Rachel, Scott and Austin Crowner.

At Earl's request, there was no funeral service.

An informal inurnment is at 1 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Yampa Cemetery. Friends and neighbors are welcome to attend. Food will be provided after the service at the Ladies Aid Hall in Yampa. For information, call Susi Crowner at 638-4478.

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