David “Dave” Gene Elford
Dave Elford of Twin Bridges and Columbus, died June 30, 2012, at the Stillwater Hospital in Columbus. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Saturday, July 7, in the K&L Mortuary in Twin Bridges. Burial will follow in the Twin Bridges Cemetery with military honors.
He was born Nov. 3, 1928, in Twin Bridges to Ed and Irene Elford. He grew up and worked as a ranch hand near Twin Bridges with his horse, “Pat.” It was the death of his older brother, Leslie, in service to our country during World War II that led Dave to join the Army as soon as he was of age.
He began working for the SP&S Railroad in 1949 at Wishram, Wash., where he met and married Wanda Harp and started their family with sons, David (Greg) and Montie. The railroad later transferred them to Vancouver, Wash., where they had their daughter, Debbie. The family then moved to a ranch near La Center, Wash., to raise their children in the country. Dave continued to work for the railroad and take various side jobs, using weekends to travel to, and participate in, multiple rodeo events to help to provide for his family.
“Cowboy” Dave was a National Rodeo Association (NRA) and Northwestern Rodeo Association (NWRA) all around champion for many years, winning numerous saddles, buckles and trophies, most noted for bull riding, bareback, and saddle bronc events. He stated he owed his ability to compete successfully against men half his age to his boyhood on a Montana cattle ranch. Dave didn’t step away from the rodeo arena until the age of 50. In the mid 1970s Dave was called upon by La Center High School Principal Clay Fox to teach and mentor students in their participation for the La Center Rodeo Days. Later he was honored with “Dave Elford Day” by the Clark County Rodeo Association.
Upon his retirement, he returned to Montana and the cowboy life he loved. He enjoyed working at cow camp. He and his wife, Carron, moved to their ranch outside of Columbus, where they bought, bred and sold registered quarter horses for 15 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ed Elford and Irene Robinson; stepmother, Ethelyn Elford; sister, Pauline; brothers, Leslie, Eddie and Buddy; and nephew, Brooks.
He is survived by his wife, Carron; sister, Mardi; children, David (Sandra), Montie (Sonja) and Debbie (Jerry); stepchildren, Tammy and Lynn; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Donations in honor of Dave may be made to Disabled Veterans of America or Cowboys in Crisis.