Tom Van Gelder and Stella Greer were crowned King and Queen of Hearts at a special Valentine’s Day party held at the Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home.
Both residents and staff voted on their “favorites” with Dian Sixberry assisting in counting the returns. The two won election by a slim margin, staving off a “tie” that would have resulted in a “royal court” instead of a king and queen.
Greer lived in Laramie almost her entire life. She and her husband owned a rock shop and created one-of-a-kind jewelry. Following the death of her husband, Greer moved to Rock Springs to live closer to her only daughter, Bev (and Arvil Ashment).
When her daughter and son-in-law decided to retire to a more “peaceful, beautiful” spot, they came back to Basin, where Arvil was born and lived for nine years before the family moved to Laramie. The Ashments own a new home on Orchard Bench Road.
Greer loves the outdoors and is an avid arrowhead/rock collector.
Van Gelder came to Greybull from Iowa. He said, “I picked up the newspaper one day and caught an ad that asked: ‘Would you like to live in the area where every day is a fisher and hunters paradise?’”
Tom, who was selling Fox Forage Harvesters at the time, took the bait, headed to Wyoming with his family, and purchased the Greybull Elevator in 1970. The business flourished until the building was sold.
One of Tom’s most valued employees and friends was Daryl Stoddard, who taught Van Gelder how to shoe a horse. Van Gelder said in Iowa, their horses have no need of shoes. He had one horse shipped to him from Iowa and the mare’s little filly became Tom’s pride and joy. Her name was “Farasukerrijle” which means “Daughter of Sugar Foot.”
Van Gelder always loved horses and long rides in the warm sunshine. He wishes that riding was still an option. People will recall his involvement in the annual Big Horn 100 and his contributions to the community through his involvement with the American Legion and Greybull Rotary Club.
The dining room was filled wall-to-wall with residents, family members and guests. The tables were festive with red and white tablecloths and red and white bouquets.
Hors d’oeuvres, cookies, valentine cake, punch and coffee were enjoyed as residents spent the afternoon visiting.
As the festivities wound down, and Van Gelder exited the dining hall, someone called out to “King Tom,” and he laughing answer, “It’s King Tom now; I’ll probably be dethroned before long.”