Yuma County Pioneers
Martin and Frances Funk
A First-Class Mechanic and One of the Prosperous Farmers.
1904 Wray Gazette
Among those who have done so much to promote the prosperity of Wray and
Yuma county, the above gentleman merits honorable mention.
Mr. Funk is a native of Rockingham county, Virginia, where he was born on a farm in 1851 and spent his boyhood days. When seventeen years of age he moved to Missouri, where he engaged in farm work and the carpenter trade for a period of six years. Then he moved to Illinois, and followed farming pursuits
for eight years, after which he went to Jasper county, Missouri, where he farmed for four years. In 1886 he left Missouri and came to Colorado, where he located in Yuma county, then a part of Weld county. He entered homestead and pre-emption
claims four miles west of Wray, then in its infancy, and a tree claim further south on the Arickaree river. At once he settled on his homestead and pre-emption claims and commenced improving them. He engaged in general farming,
corn, wheat and vegetables being his chief crops, and he garnered profitable crops as a reward for his energy and industry. Subsequently he sold his pre-emption, but still retains his homestead and tree claims, embracing 320
acres. He cultivates 100 acres and last year he raised 1,500 bushels of wheat, 1,500 bushels of corn and an abundant crop of all kinds of vegetables. The balance of his homestead he uses as pasture for his cattle and horses. His farming career in this county has been an uninterrupted success, with the
exception of 1893 and 1894 when there was a complete failure of crops in this part of the state.
Before coming to the county Mr. Funk learned the trade of stone mason
and as a skilled mechanic he has established a flattering reputation. Since
coming here he followed his trade of stone mason and contractor, and he has laid
nearly all the foundations for private residences and business blocks in the
city, including the new court house completed in January of this year. Mr. Funk
is not only a first-class mechanic, but his well known integrity inspires
confidence in his work and honorable dealings.
In 1875 Mr. Funk married Miss Frances M. Jordan, an estimable Illinois
lady, and they have four interesting children, all boys, to whom they have given
an excellent education. Mr. and Mrs. Funk are very popular and they well merit the cordial esteem in which they are held.
Ben and Judy (SIMMONS) Funk
Retired U.S. Air Force Major Gen. Ben Funk, a commanding officer in World War II and a key figure in developing America's ballistic missile program
and launching the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, died Jan. 21, 2012 - three months
before his 99th birthday at his home in Long Beach, Calif.
Born Ben Ivan Funk in Wray, Colo., on April 21, 1913 to Dan and Maude Funk, he entered the University of Denver in 1932. After experiencing
the thrill of flying in a Fokker Trimotor during a fraternity event, Ben decided to leave college to become a
pilot, entering the Army Air Corps flight school in 1935 and earning his wings in 1936 at Randolph-Kelly Field in Texas.
In 1939, on a tour of Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Ben
met Judy King, a young actress who became his wife and
lifelong love until her death in 1994. They are survived by
their two children, Judith Funk Albert and John Christian
At the beginning of World War II, Ben flew numerous
missions in his B-24 bomber, nicknamed "Bag of Bolts," to
evacuate American and British citizens from the Philippines
and Java. Returning to the U.S. during the war, Ben played a
pivotal role in improving the B-17 and B-24 and developing
the B-29 Superfortress. In 1945, then-Col. Funk led a group
of 2,000 men in 45 B-29s to Okinawa for the bombing of
In 1948, Ben earned a bachelor of science degree from the
Air Force Institute of Technology. He graduated from the
advanced management program at Harvard Business School in
1949. From 1951-54, having earned his first star, Ben
commanded Erding Air Depot in southern Germany. It was there
that Ben and Judy conceived "Operation Christmas," a U.S.
military program that provided gifts and meals to thousands
of war orphans throughout Bavaria.
As commander of the Ballistic Missile Center in Los
Angeles from 1956 to 1960, Ben supported the development of
America’s first generation of ballistic missiles, the
intermediate-range Thor and the long-range Atlas. He was the
recipient of the first Missile Badge in 1958 and was
promoted to major general in 1959.
Ben completed his career as commander of the Space
Systems Division in Los Angeles from 1962 to 1966. His teams
at Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral carried out
missile launches at a rate that remains unsurpassed. Gen.
Funk oversaw the development of the Titan III, which
launched not only communications and military satellites,
but also the Mercury and Gemini manned spacecraft. For these
accomplishments, he received NASA's Space Achievement Award
from President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1966, Ben went on to
10 years as an executive at Lockheed Missiles and Space
Corporation. After fully retiring, Ben and Judy enjoyed time
traveling with their grandchildren throughout the United
States, Canada and Mexico by Airstream trailer and on
Princess Line cruises.
In the last 10 years of his life, Ben shared a home in
Long Beach with his daughter Judy and her husband, Charlie
Albert. During most of those years, Ben was able to travel
and visit with his family, including his grandchildren,
Cathy Schufreider, Christopher Cale, Matthew Funk, Allison
Funk Fleischman, Jeff Albert and Karen Albert Radford. His
other grandchild, Jennifer Funk Volpe, died in 2001. He is
also survived by his great-grandchildren, Daniel, Emily,
Madeleine, Natalie, Sarah and Jackson.
Ben Funk will be remembered as an honorable gentleman who
lived up to his own advice: “Find something in life that you
love to do.” His passion was flying, and he was able to be a
pilot one last time in 2005, when, at the age of 92, he flew
a PBY Catalina over the hills of southern England.
Memorial services are
pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the
Alzheimer's Association at
www.alz.org or P.O. Box 96011, Washington, D.C.
20090-6011, or the University of Denver, Chancellor's
Innovation Fund at P.O. Box 910585, Denver, CO 80291-0585.
Jane Simmons King ,daughter of of the late
Dr. J.J. Simmons of Dallas, was honeymooning today with
Lieutenant Ben Funk of the U S army air corps. The young actress
and the flyer who met here on a film set eloped to Winslow
and were married by the Rev. Fred Daehler. Funk's brother
Harold married Evelyn June Paine of Denver in the same
ceremony Eighteen months ago Miss King came here from Dallas
to sell the movies a song she composed The moviemakers
looked at her instead of her song and the pretty Texas girl
was placed under contract as an actress.
March 18, 1963
Judy was the second daughter of Dr. J.J. Simmons of Dallas, Texas..
When she was 12 she won two musical scholarships and studied piano with Skitch
Henderson in Dallas and Jacques Press in New York. When she was 15, she
was studying music and modeling for McClelland Barclay, a top-flight magazine
illustrator. Shortly thereafter, she, her sister Jean, and her
recently-widowed mother journeyed to California, hoping to sell songs to
studios. That didn't succeed, but Judy started acting and won a movie
contract She appeared in 31 movies before meeting and marrying Ben
Ben's record in a WWII registry said his father lived at 917
Dexter Street in Wray.
In response to an emergency plea from Mindanao for
medical supplies, 1st Lieutenants Horace M. Wade and Ben
I. Funk flew from Java to Darwin in an LB-30 and a B-24
to pick up the supplies and thence on 26 January, 1942
to Del Monte for a late-night delivery at the dimly-lit
strip. They returned to Darwin with 29 enlisted
mechanics of the 19th BG.
FRANKFURT --1954 American stage and screen
star Danny Kaye stopped briefly in Frankfurt
today en route to a professional engagement in
South Africa and then two months in the Far East
as ambassador at large for the United Nations
International Children's Education Fund
Kaye was asked by a German
newspaperwoman if he smoked.
"Yes," he said.
"Do you drink?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. "I have all the
major and minor vices...like all human beings."
Kaye explained that as ambassador he
would make documentary films on UNICEF
activities in India, Thailand, Hong Kong and the
Philippines. He said that through worldwide
distribution of the pictures it was hoped that
the people of different countries would become
acquainted with the work of the children's fund.
He left New York last Monday for
London, where he attended the British premiere
of his new film "Knock on Wood," a Paramount
Before leaving Rhine-Main, Kaye
telephoned a greeting to an old friend, Brig.
Gen. Ben I. Funk, Erding Air Depot CG.
Kaye said he and Funk were together on Okinawa
"a long time ago." He also asked that his best
wishes be forwarded to U.S. troops in Europe.
October 22, 1963 Redlands California:
In Las Vegas recently united Andrea Jean Callahan of
San Bernardino and John Christian Funk, son of Maj. Gen. and
Mrs. Ben I. Funk. General Funk is former
commander of San Bernardino Air Materiel Area and is now
commander of the Space Systems in The bride is the
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond H. Callahan of San
Bernardino at whose home a Sunday evening dinner party
was given. The double ring riles were
performed October 12 by Rev James pastor of t h c First
Baptist church of Las Vegas Attending were Joyce
Callahan , sister of the bride, and Charles Samuel Cale,
brother-in-law . The bride was married in a
two-piece champagne satin brocade suit. She wore a
cusstom-made pillbox hat of pleated beige satin with short veil of
French tulle. She held a bouquet of
cymbidium orchids. A wedding party at the hotel in
Las Vegas followed.
Both Andrea and Chris graduated from Pacific High
school in San Bernardino with the class of 1962 and both
were members of the California Scholarship National Honor
and Student Society. Andrea was Pacific's 1961 football i homecoming
queen and captain of the varsity pom pon She was
also editor of the yearbook Andrea has attended
the University of California at Berkeley. Chris
then transferring to the University of Southern
California to a four-year alumni lo the school of
aerospace He also hopes to a complete master's degree in
business administration and is working during summer
months at North American Aviation Space Information
Division in Downey in engineering The couple plan
to make their home temporarily at 24 Shady Vista Rolling
Yampa, Colorado newspaper
One Ancestry private tree has parents as: Daniel Christian Funk and Maude A.
The 1910 census has a Daniel Funk married to Alma - no children. Daniel is
a brick mason, his wife a music teacher.
(Earl's first wife was a daughter of Morrison, Colorado grocer Marshal
Nay. The marriage of Mr. Nay and Miss Emma J. Warner, of Holt County, Mo.,
occurred March 17, 1872. Four children came to bless their hearthstone, but one
is deceased. Ida V. is the wife of Earl D. McGill, a successful medical
practitioner of Yuma, Colo. George W. is in partnership with his father in the
meat and stock business. His wife, formerly Miss Anna I. Strickland, was a
successful teacher in the schools of this county for six years. Samuel W., a
graduate of the Colorado State University at Boulder, is now engaged in teaching
in Denver county. (1898)
The Wray Gazette in 1904 said that Dr. McGill came to Wray in 1898.
Among his large property interests in the city Dr. McGill owns a
beautiful residence, desirably situated and with elegant surroundings
that make it an ideal home. Recently he completed a handsome brick
office on Pawnee street, in the business section. It is 20x25 feet in
size and contains a general reception room, a special treatment room and
a general consulting and operating room. Each of these apartments is
elegantly furnished and the office is generously supplied with all
modern medical appliances and surgical instruments used in the
profession. Indeed, it is save to assert that there are but few other
physician's offices, if any, in eastern Colorado, that are so inviting
in appearance and so well supplied with necessary appliances and
Earl McGill is a physician in
Phillips County Kansas in 1920, wife Almira -she's 36 and they have a 3-year-old
son. They're in Kansas City in 1930, living on Warwick Blvd. Might be the same one.
Son is named Nathan (Almire Dyer in Kansas in 1900 has a father Nathan Dyer....)
Ancestry tree has Earl dying May 3, 1954 in Mesa Arizona, and Almira dying in
Long Beach, California February 15, 1968.
Ida V. McGill is still in Wray in 1920 - divorced, with two children - Ethel and
Earl. In 1930 she's in Long Beach, California, living with her parents.
The California Death Index has a record of Ida born in Missouri May 31, 1878 and
dying in Orange County October 13, 1961.Ethelynn married Joe Speicher of Wray.
Earl Duane McGill is recorded in the California Death Index as born November 12,
1903 and dying in San Diego November 8, 1992. He had married Elaine Marie
Sterling in Las Vegas in 1959 and Marilyn Loper in Santa Barbara in 1962.
In 1968 Ernestin Devore divorced Earl D. McGill in Los Angeles, but no ages are
given, so this might be another Earl..
Dan's WWI registration card has him born March 6, 1884 - next of kin is father
Martin D. Funk.
The 1920 census has him divorced, living with his father, brother and brother's
wife, two sons Harold and Ben. The 1930 has him married to Maude. He's a
building contractor, and they live on Dexter Street
||Harold Nathan Funk
|Social Security #:
||28 Feb 1912
||13 Jan 1983
In January 1940 Harold was a pilot of a two-plane collision near El Centro,
California. One aviator was killed, and five injured. Harold, 27,
had a badly wrenched knee and several contusions. He had parachuted down after
The Evening Independent of December 8, 1944 reported that Navy Air Group 26
was back in the U.S. - On October 26, four days after the Philipine landings,
their three Hellcat fighters took on 26 Japanese medium bombers, escorted by
fighters. Lt. Cmdr Harold N. Funk of Wray, Colorado, the group
leader, shot down five bombers.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in
presenting the Navy Cross to Commander [then Lieutenant Commander]
Harold Nathan Funk, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in
operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based
Navy Fighter Plane and Leader of a Three-Plane Division in Fighting
Squadron TWENTY-THREE (VF-23), during an engagement with thirty-two
twin-engined enemy Japanese bombers with escorting fighters which were
heading for an attack on our shipping in Leyte Gulf, on 24 October 1944.
Skillfully attacking this numerically superior force, Commander Funk
personally shot down FOUR bombers and one fighter while his Division
mates destroyed three more enemy aircraft and so disrupted the enemy
formation that other friendly planes were able to destroy the remaining
planes. At another time, he aided in destroying a large number of enemy
planes on the ground. By his courage and leadership, he contributed
greatly to the success of our forces in this area and his devotion to
duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States
FM-2 Wildcat. of Harold Nathan Funk
a better picture is in Osprey AoA 3 page 65
Harold had a total of seven kills in 86 missions.
Commander Harold Nathan Funk, United States Navy, was awarded a Third
Gold Star in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross
for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as
Commander, Carrier Air Group ONE HUNDRED TWO (CAG-102), in Korea on 3
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