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 Funk.

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 Japan.

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.


January 1, 1940

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 Funk.

  1. $1000 a Touchdown (1939) [Actress]
  2. I'm from Missouri (1939) [Actress]
  3. Cafe Society (1939) [Actress]
  4. Paris Honeymoon (1939) [Actress]
  5. The Gay Retreat (1927) [Actress]
  6. Upstream (1927) [Actress]
  7. The Bonanza Buckaroo (1926) [Actress]
  8. The Best Bad Man (1925) [Actress]
  9. Strong for Love (1925) [Actress]
  10. The Heart Breaker (1925) [Actress]
  11. Red Pepper (1925) [Actress]
  12. Seven Chances (1925) [Actress]
  13. Three Foolish Weeks (1924) [Actress]
  14. Girl Shy (1924) [Actress]
  15. Grand Jury Secrets (1939) [Actress]
  16. Unmarried (1939) [Actress]
  17. I'm from Missouri (1939) [Actress]
  18. She Wolves (1925) [Actress]
  19. Red Pepper (1925) [Actress]
  20. The Bonanza Buckaroo (1926) [Actress]
 From 1929 Photoplay "FOX STUDIOS. 1401 N. Western Ave.  to produce Ben Stoloff directing "A. W. O. L." with Nancy
Nash, Gene Cameron and Judy King."


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 (UNICEF).
            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 production.
            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 Hills


1914 Yampa, Colorado newspaper


One Ancestry private tree has parents as: Daniel Christian Funk and Maude A. Mcgee

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....)

One 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


Publication: Wray Rattler (Wray, Yuma County);  Date: Jul 9, 1914;  Section: Front page;  Page: 1  
Name: Harold Nathan Funk
Social Security #: 521522011
Sex: Male
Birth Date: 28 Feb 1912
Birthplace: Colorado
Death Date: 13 Jan 1983
Death Place: San Francisco


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 collision.


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 Naval Service.

 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 September 1951.


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