Byers family has long history in Rangely

Gordon and Dena Byers were married in December 1969. Today, the Rangely couple’s 15 grandchildren “keep their travel schedule in motion.”

Gordon and Dena Byers were married in December 1969. Today, the Rangely couple’s 15 grandchildren “keep their travel schedule in motion.”
RANGELY I “I’m thankful for two things, wrinkles don’t hurt and you don’t have to be good at golf to enjoy it,” said Gordon Byers after his retirement in Rangely. He and his wife Dena have been married nearly 43 years and enjoy the friendly people of their small community and the opportunity to travel.
The Byers family first came to Rangely in 1892. Gordon’s grandparents, John and Ellen, homesteaded the 7K Bar ranch on Douglas Creek. The cabin still remains at the base of Douglas Pass.
John Byers passed away in 1913, forcing Gordon’s grandmother to sell the ranch to Bart Owens and move the family to Fruita in 1914. Minta Ethel (White) Byers Gerry married Gordon’s father, Fred Byers, in 1916. The two had five children. Four were nearly raised before the arrival of Gordon 16 years later.
Gordon’s father passed away in 1941, and his mother sold their farm in Fruita in 1944. She moved her family to Grand Junction for a couple years before accepting a job with the post office in Rangely in 1947. Mable (Clark) White was the postmaster at the time and Minta worked for her approximately 10 years before becoming the postmaster herself. In 1948, Minta married Guy Gerry and retired from the post office in the late 1960s.
Gordon was graduated from Rangely High School in 1958, he attended Mesa State College for two years and then went to work in the oil field. He started as a “roughneck” on the rigs — from a driller, to a tool pusher, and then as an operator for R & R in 1969. He lived in Fort Collins for a time, moved to Vernal, Utah, in 1971 and moved back to Rangely in 1972 as a manager. He stayed with the company until 1976. He worked for Twin Arrow Oil and Gas before he went out on his own as a drilling consultant in 1980. When the oil field slowed in 1987, Gordon worked for Bud Striegel for four years, Twin Arrow for about four years and then back to Striegel’s to cruise into retirement in 2005 as an equipment hauler.
Gordon married Dena in December 1969. They have six children: Brian, Brett, Kathy, Cena, Jill, and Jeff. The two had a son, Chris, in 1971 who was killed in a 1986 car accident. They have 15 grandchildren who keep their travel schedule in motion.
Dena worked in the Chevron offices for 10 years and then for Rio Blanco Road and Bridge for nearly 10 years before her retirement. In 1976, they bought a house and five acres east of town where they bred and trained Arabian horses for a number of years. They sold the land and horses about 10 years ago.
Now Gordon and Dena enjoy traveling and visiting their family, which is scattered around the western United States. They have gone on cruises to the Mexican Riviera, Alaska and Cancun; have traveled to Hawaii for a week where they rented a house with family members for their 41st wedding anniversary. The trip was an incredible experience they truly enjoyed. They also have taken their camp trailer all over the western states and Canada.
When they are not traveling together, Gordon enjoys golfing and Dena enjoys working in her yard. They have appreciated the “personal freedom and lack of crowds Rangely has provided.” Gordon is the “self-proclaimed bearer of good and bad news” for his classmates of 1958. He keeps up-to-date on how and what people are doing and his knowledge is certainly appreciated by his long-time friends.
Through the years, Gordon and Dena have been active in the community. Gordon was a volunteer fireman, a certified EMT and member of the ambulance crew, was treasurer of the Rangely School Board and is currently on the museum’s board of directors. He will receive his 50-year pin this year with the Masonic lodge, and is currently the Grand Lodge representative for this area which includes Meeker, Craig, Hayden and Rangely. His title is district lecturer and he is working hard to help revive the Masonic lodges in the areas.
When asked what has changed the most in Rangely, Gordon simply replied, “Look around.” He explained that in 1947 there were no paved roads. It was a boom town. There were the lights of the 30 to 40 rigs lighting up the night but no housing or even trees around town. Things have improved a great deal since then, but the appreciation of having a place to live is something people of that time hold tight to.
Gordon’s history in the area runs deep. An article in the Meeker Herald in the early 1950s told a story about three cattlemen: Perry and Eddy Boies, and John White (Gordon’s grandfather), who were hired to take cattle from Piceance Creek to desert country near Fruita for winter grazing. The drive was to take six days beginning in October. Everything started well as they left the Piceance country and stopped the first night on Cathedral Mountain. The men who had ridden with them to that point figured the three cowboys would be fine the rest of the way and turned back.
When the three men woke up in the morning, it was snowing and the snow continued to gain strength. They pushed all day, only making six miles in a storm they could barely see through, and stopped the cattle in timber for the night. The storm continued for five days, forcing the men to stay in the timber, close to the campfire, and take turns watching the herd. They lost several calves in the storm and are lucky to have survived the ordeal themselves. The story is titled, “Cowmen in a storm” and referred to the cattle drive made by these three brave men in 1897 or 1898. It reveals the strength and perseverance of true cowboys and is worth the read for a perspective on how bad the storm was.
Gordon continues the preservation of history with the museum board and through active friendships that have been going strong for more than years. He and his wife Dena are examples of the sincere, caring participants of Rangely’s community.