American Patriotic 10


Winton Verle Friend

December 5, 1921 ~ April 15, 2018 (age 96)
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Winton Verle Friend was born on December 5, 1921 to Robert and Ethyll (Pfeiffer) Friend 30 miles northwest of Kearney, NE, in his mother’s home, the same home his mother was born in.  He was the first born of two boys.  The Friends moved back to the Yuma area in 1922 and shortly following, Winton’s brother, Lynn (Tiny), came into this world on February 21, 1924.  The boys attended Ford Grade School and graduated from Waverly Rural High School.  Winton’s mother was a school teacher and principal for many years, teaching right alongside her boys throughout their education.

Following his schooling, Winton went to work in Leadville, CO, for a company named Pando who was building military barracks for Camp Hale, also known as the 10th Mountain Division.  He helped with the creation of elite ski corps working alongside the National Association of Ski Patrol.  He also worked for the Union Pacific Railroad in Denver and worked road construction as a heavy equipment operator.

Winton decided with the outbreak of World War II, he we going to find the most challenging job the military had to offer and enlisted in the Naval Air Corp in 1942 as a pilot. He started his training in Sterling, CO, received his wings in Pensacola, FL, and then went onto navigation school in Hollywood, FL. He fought the Japanese in the South Pacific in the Black Cat Squadron in PBY flying boats.  Following World War II, Winton returned to Yuma County in 1946 after “V.J.” Day with a commercial pilot’s rating to fly airplanes, but didn’t pursue a flying career.  Instead he took up prospecting and bought a Conoco station in Haxtun, CO, from Elmer Jernberg, where he was a skilled mechanic for several years.

Winton met the love of his life, Rita Mae Dilka, and they were wed on July 4, 1958, at the Assembly of God Church in Yuma. Their ceremony took place when Winton came home from working on the road and was visiting her on his 3-day holiday weekend.  Winton and Rita continued to work and move around Colorado doing road construction until in 1961, Winton suffered two heart attacks which convinced Winton to put his faith in the Lord and he was healed.  They settled down in Yuma and Winton worked at the Kofoed Garage and later Bud’s Surplus.  In 1973, Rita and Winton opened Yuma Lumber and then in 1976 they bought Bud’s Surplus from Bud Agler, therefore combining the businesses to create Yuma Lumber & Surplus.  The business was the source of their pride and joy for many years to come as Winton loved to collect and tinker with things.

Winton was an active member of the Assembly of God Church where he taught Sunday school for many years. Teaching God’s word to the youth was a highlight in his life.  Winton and Rita continued their faith at Freedom Fellowship in Yuma developing many close friendships along the way.  The last several years, as Winton’s health and mobility declined, he was not able to attend church as often as he’d like to, but you could always count on Winton for many prayers, counsel, love, and support.  He had much of the Bible memorized and could recite multiple verses word for word. He also loved to debate and talk about meanings in the Bible verses.  

Winton was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Ethyll Friend, his wife of 58 years, Rita Mae, his brother Lynn (Tiny) Friend, his mother and father in-law Frank & Minnie Dilka, brother-in-laws Cleo (Millie) Dilka, and Frank (Helen) Dilka, sister-in-laws Vernadeane (Oliver) Allen, Eva (Fritz) Korf, Colleen Dilka, and Lela (Lloyd) Korf, and many beloved nieces and nephews.  Winton is survived by his brother-in-law, Robert Dilka and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions can be made to the local VFW or Baucke Funeral Home.

For more on Winton’s navy experiences, please refer to the June 1, 2017, edition of the Yuma Pioneer.

A funeral service was held April 23, 2018 at 10:30 A.M.  at the First Church of the Nazarene in Yuma, Colorado.  Interment will follow the service at the Yuma Cemetery.   Reverend Gail Prentice officiated the service and Baucke Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.

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