September 14, 1919 – April 7, 2021
Victor Garber was born September 14, 1919 in a log house built by his parents, Vie Willits Garber and Alvin LaRoy Garber in the Little Goose Valley. Big Horn, Wyoming was his permanent mailing address throughout his 101 years of life. He attended Big Horn School except for his senior year in high school when he attended and graduated from Santa Paula (California) Union High School. He attended the University of Wyoming for a year prior to returning to the Little Goose Valley to continue a lifetime of farming and ranching along with community service, traveling and storytelling.
World War II occurred early in his career; Victor and his brother, Orr, proudly raised crops per the War Production Board via the County Agent, while their brother, Eugene served in the US Navy in the Pacific. In 1943 he married Phyllis Miller of Belmont, NE. They often joked that it was an arranged marriage, after finding a letter written from his mother upon receiving Phyllis’ birth announcement that read: “I’ll try to raise a son to be a proper husband for her.” They have four children: Paul (Saralee Roush); David (Judy Cook); Roy (Nancy Husman); and Patricia (Thomas Mahon).
The Garber family has made its living in agriculture on lands near Big Horn for more than 130 years. Starting with Victor’s maternal grandfather, the family adapted, changed, and worked together to survive and thrive in the ever-changing world. Victor and Orr continued their partnership until Orr’s passing in 1960. A major transformation occurred in 1972 when Garber Agri-Business, Inc., a family corporation, was established with Phyllis, Victor, and their sons, Paul, David, and Roy. This diversified company included a cow/calf operation, custom farming, a cattle feeding and general earthmoving operation. The agricultural business was enhanced by using this knowledge and equipment to increase reservoir storage capacity and installation of sprinkler irrigation systems. Working together as a family is never easy, but they made it a rewarding and satisfying experience. The family corporation still operates today.
Victor believed all good citizens needed to have outside endeavors, including giving back to one’s community in order to have a balanced life. His civic engagement began with the Farm Bureau as a lobbyist at the Wyoming Legislature. He then served in the Wyoming Legislature as a Democrat for three terms from 1959-1964. He was the Treasurer of the Predatory Animal Board from 1962-2007. From 1964-1976 he was appointed by three consecutive Governors as a member of the Wyoming Employment Security Commission. From 1979-1980 he again served in the Wyoming Legislature as a Republican. Victor was committed to advancing educational and other opportunities for current and future generations. For 39 years, (1976-2013), he served on the B.F. and Rose Perkins Foundation Board of Directors. He was gratified and moved by the letters from appreciative parents who used funds for medical issues for their children and grateful recipients of the student loans. In the 1960’s - 1970’s he served on the Sheridan College Board of Trustees intermittently for 7 years. During this time frame he was instrumental, along with other community members, in establishing the Big Horn Education Fund. He was proud that his daughter, Pat, earned her Ph.D., and along with her husband, Tom, dedicated their careers to education. He was also gratified that his children and their family members serve on local, state, regional and national committees, boards, and foundations.
Phyllis was an avid host of youth exchange programs including the Experiment in International Living. In turn, during their 58 years of marriage, Victor and Phyllis were inspired to travel to all of the 50 states and several countries, where they had the opportunity to visit many of those guests. Victor loved to tell stories and enjoyed being interviewed for articles and book chapters. In later years, he insatiably enjoyed listening to audio books. He was blessed to help plan and celebrate his 100th birthday with family and friends. This included a gathering at the Big Horn Women’s club where he arrived in a Ford Model A and left in a Garber Agri-Business Peterbilt transport. He resided at his family residence at the foothills of the Big Horns until moving to Elmcroft in 2017. The loving and caring staff became his extended family, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Victor was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Orr and Eugene, his wife, Phyllis in 2001, and his loving friend and companion, Patty Warner, in 2014. He is survived by his children, daughters- and son-in-law; five grandchildren: Brian Garber, Jennifer Garber, Kathryn Primrose, Abbey Hagerman, and Philip Garber; and eight great grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 pm on Saturday, June 5, 2021 at Big Horn Equestrian Center. Memorials may be made to the Big Horn Education Fund, P.O. Box 615, Big Horn or Mount Hope Cemetery, P.O. Box 233, Big Horn. Champion Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements. Online condolences may be written at www.championfh.com.