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Virginia (Ginger) Etta Merritt Harris

Modified: Wednesday, Nov 7th, 2012


Aug. 29, 1928-Nov. 3, 2012

TORRINGTON – Virginia (Ginger) Etta Merritt Harris passed away at Central Wyoming Hospice in Casper on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 surrounded by her family. Funeral services will be on Friday, Nov 9 at 11 a.m. at St. Rose Catholic Church, and interment will follow immediately at Valley View Cemetery in Torrington.

The Rosary will be recited at St. Rose on Thursday at 7 p.m. Viewing will be on Thursday at Colyer Funeral Home from 2 to 4 p.m. Father Robert Fox, Father Carl Beavers and Father Raymond Moss will officiate.

Following interment, a reception will be held at the Cottonwood Country Club. Memorials may be made to St. Joseph’s Children’s Home and St. Rose Catholic Church in Torrington, as well as the Wyoming Cowboy Joe Club in care of Colyer Funeral Home. Friends may send condolences to the family at www.colyerfuneralhome.com.

Ginger was born on Aug. 29, 1928 at the family ranch on Lodgepole Creek northwest of Cheyenne. She was the fifth of six children born to King and Marie (Smith) Merritt. Ranching, rodeo and the western way of life were woven into the fabric of her life from the beginning.

Her toughness and sense of adventure were developed on the ranch and rodeoing, where she competed in team roping, was a race horse jockey and performed trick riding. Ginger attended elementary school on the ranch with her siblings and then graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Cheyenne. She went on to the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie, where she met her husband, Dale Harris of Jay Em. Both were on the UW college rodeo team, and Ginger also represented the university as the rodeo queen.

Dale and Ginger were married on Sept. 9, 1948 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne. They made their home at the Wolf Place on the Harris Ranch in Jay Em. In 1961, they moved to a farm north of Torrington and continued to operate the ranch in Jay Em. Dale and Ginger were blessed with seven children: Mark, Daletta, Mantha, Andrea, Shanna, Merritt and Bryan.

As a ranch wife with a family of nine, Ginger’s work was never done, but her smile and quick wit could make almost any chore fun. She was a devoted mother and enjoyed her children’s, grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s activities. She was active in Goshen County Cowbelles and the St. Rose Catholic Church Alter and Rosary Society. She liked to golf, was an excellent seamstress, an avid bridge player, a great cook and a wonderful hostess. Ginger had a great sense of humor and loved practical jokes. She enjoyed Wyoming Cowboy football and had season tickets for more than 40 years. She moved to Casper in 2005 to be closer to her family and became a member of Our Lady of Fatima Church.

Ginger’s toughness was never more evident than in November 1971, when she survived a debilitating brain aneurysm. Through her strong will, she overcame all odds and was able to resume her active life. When many would have asked for help, Ginger figured out a way to be independent and help others. Ginger was an authentic cowgirl with true grit and an unwavering spirit. Given her challenging circumstances, her contributions to her family, friends, church and ranching community were nothing short of extraordinary.

Survivors include her seven children: Mark Harris of Torrington; Daletta Harris, Mantha Phillips and Shanna Harris of Casper; Andrea (Dick) Phillips of Story; Merritt (Kathi) Harris of Douglas; and Bryan Harris of Cheyenne. Grandchildren: Mark Harris of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Kodi (Troy) Peterson of Sheridan; Olivia (Mike) Gallegos of Lincoln, Neb.; Jonee (JR) Crozier, Nate Laible, John Laible, Jake Phillips, Patrick Harris and Van Harris of Casper; Jaime (James) Tarver of Gillette; JW (Stevie) Phillips of Story; Ryan Harris of Denver; and Rebecca Harris of Torrington. She is also survived by her two sisters, Orlene Mills of Phoenix, Ariz. and Ramona (John) Niland of Cheyenne; sister-in-law Betty Harris of Lyman, Neb.; twelve great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents and three brothers Sonny, Hyde and Cotton.

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