Obituary: Dwight Webster ‘Shorty’ Frantz

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Shorty Frantz

Dwight Webster ‘Shorty’ Frantz

April 30, 1935 ~ Oct. 6, 2019

Dwight Webster “Shorty” Frantz, passed away on Oct. 6, 2019, surrounded by his family at Pioneers Medical Center at the age of 84. He died of complications related to congestive heart failure.

Shorty was born to Charles and Julia Frantz on April 30, 1935, in McPherson, Kansas. He had one sister,  Mary J, and they lived in Canton, Kansas.

Growing up in Kansas, he was known as “Speck” because of the freckles covering his face. In school Speck played football and baseball while helping build grain elevators in the summers.

After graduating high school Shorty went to college at Western State College (now Western State University) for one year. While going to school in Gunnison he worked on a ranch where he met Frank Ferrens and the two became good friends.

Shorty then joined the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and was stationed in Germany, serving his country from 1955 to 1958 as a tracked vehicle mechanic. While in Germany he toured Europe in an MG car, accumulating stories along the way.

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Shorty traveled and worked several different jobs, mostly in Kansas. He built more grain elevators and also bridges. He worked in the oilfield and at an International Harvester dealer, among other things.

In 1963 Shorty married Lois Ratzlaff, whom he had known growing up in Canton. He didn’t want to live in the flatlands and travel to the mountains on vacation, so they moved to Meeker where Frank lived.

Shorty’s first job in Meeker was for Colorado Well Service as a derrick hand on a workover rig up in the Wilson Creek field. After a couple of years, he went to work for George LeFevre at The Iron Works, where George gave him the name “Shorty.” The Iron Works was a blacksmith and welding shop where he learned how to forge steel and repair wagon wheels. The stage coach, which goes down Main Street every Fourth of July, was one of the things he worked on while at The Iron Works. Some of the old tools he used at the Iron Works were donated to the Meeker Museum, and can be found displayed toward the back.

In 1970 Shorty went to work for the Town of Meeker’s public works department, where he stayed until he retired in 1999. Shorty was also a volunteer fireman for a while during that time.

After retiring, Shorty continued to stay busy helping out at the Town and operating equipment for contractors in the area as well as plowing the sidewalks uptown for several years during the winter.

One of Shorty’s favorite things to do was riding his four wheelers. During his retirement, he went on many four wheeling trips exploring northwest Colorado. Shorty also spent summers cleaning the Aldrich Lake and Sleepy Cat ditches with his family and friends. Old man Kracht and Bob Vanderpool were on many of these trips with him, and hunting trips usually meant just more four wheeling.

Shorty also liked to shoot squirrels and would go fishing with Bud Duffy. He loved to bake, and rhubarb pie was one of his favorites. He was always delivering pie, smoked whitefish, sweet pea flowers, and other things to his friends all over town.

Several times a day, one could find Shorty at the convenience store scratching lottery tickets and BS’ing with his friends.

While his five kids were growing up, Shorty took his family on regular trips to the woods to camp and fish, always stopping at the Buford store for Fudgesicles. Sundays would find the family making homemade ice cream with the old hand crank ice cream machine with everyone taking a turn cranking.

Shorty was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, and his wife Lois of 37 years, who died in 2000.

He is survived by his five children and their spouses: Charlie (Gail) Frantz of Meeker, JD (Kim) Frantz of Rifle, Web (Kristine) Frantz of Meeker, Sondra (John) Babb of Craig, and Oren (Cindy) Frantz of Meeker, 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Shorty was the most amazing man, husband, father, grandfather and friend. He had the greatest sense of humor and chuckle. He will be very much missed by his family and friends.

The family would like to thank the Pioneers Medical Center staff for taking such good care of Shorty, and a very special thank you to Jason “The Barber On The Run” Boudreaux, for cutting Dad’s hair before he died. It meant more to him than you know.