Patty LaRoche: Preparing for Death

Occasionally I receive an email that makes me laugh out loud. That was my reaction when I read the following:

Two 90-year-old women, Rose and Barb had been friends all of their lives.

When it was clear that Rose was dying, Barb visited her every day.

One day, Barb said, “Rose, we both loved playing women’s softball all our lives, and we played all through high school. Please do me one favor: When you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there’s women’s softball there.”  

Rose looked up at Barb from her deathbed and said, “Barb, you’ve been my best friend for many years. If it’s at all possible, I’ll do this favor for you.”

 Shortly after that, Rose passed on.

 A few nights later, Barb was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to her, “Barb, Barb.”  

“Who is it?” asked Barb, sitting up suddenly. “Who is it?”  

“Barb – it’s me, Rose.”   

“You’re not Rose. Rose just died.” 

 “I’m telling you, it’s me, Rose,” insisted the voice.  

“Rose! Where are you?”   

“In Heaven,” replied Rose. “I have some really good news and a little bad news.” 

“Tell me the good news first,” said Barb.  

“The good news,” Rose said, “is that there’s softball in Heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we’re all young again. Better still, it’s always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play softball all we want, and we never get tired.”  

“That’s fantastic,” said Barb. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams! So what’s the bad news?”

 “You’re pitching Tuesday.”

You’re at least smiling, right? Maybe even chuckling. How can you not? Still, the message is sobering. What if you and I substitute our names for Barb’s? What if we were told that we had less than a week to live? If you’re like me, all my time would be spent on relationships, hugging longer and more intentionally, making phone calls that should have been made months (years?) ago, having deeper, spiritual conversations with those close to me, asking forgiveness of those I’ve wounded.

Last week, I attended the funeral of Tim Bloomfield. Tim woke up Tuesday morning, having no idea it would be his last. He and his wife Sheryl were going to run errands. He called his brother, ended the conversation with “Later,” and hung up.

But there was no “later.” And the same will be true for all of us. Every second could be our “latest,” bringing us closer to eternity. We must prepare, and no, I’m not talking about getting our arm in shape for the Heavenly softball match. I’m talking about what Jesus referred to as “the greatest commandment:” Love God above all else, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

And that, Readers, is no chuckling matter.

Obituary: Sally Ann Caffey

Submitted by Cheney Witt Funeral Home

Sally Ann Caffey, age 77, a resident of Fort Scott, died at her home, Thursday, October 26, 2017.

She was born October 30, 1939, in Forgan, Okla., the daughter of Charley Newton Withrow and Doris Mae Crosby. She married Jimmie Dean Caffey, on November 26, 2005, in Fort Scott. She was a member of the Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church, helping with the altar flowers and making pies for the fish fries at church. Sally was very crafty and enjoyed antiques and making wedding cakes. She loved genealogy, gardening and her family, especially her grandkids.

Survivors include her husband Jim of the home; two daughters, Athena Marie Quesada Huss, Delia Ann Quesada Wallace; extended family, Deana Ann Caffey, Rhonda Derian Caffey Farris, and husband Jonathan, Mark Allen Caffey, and wife Amy, and Jimmie Thomas Caffey and wife Gina; a brother, Johnny Lee “John” Withrow, and wife Barbara, sister, Joycelyn Nevada “Jo” Withrow Stogsdill; 15 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; a son Michael Wayne Quesada, a brother Charley Newton Withrow, Jr.; extended family Troy Lynn Caffey; and a brother-in-law, Bill Stogsdill.

Father Robert Wachter will conduct Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m., Monday, October 30, 2017, the Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church. The Rosary will be prayed at 2 p.m., Sunday, October 29, at the Cheney Witt Chapel with visitation following until 4 p.m. Memorials are suggested to the Shirley Yeager Animal Friends Foundation and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at


Obituary: Ralph Edwin French, Jr.

Submitted by Cheney Witt Funeral Home

Ralph Edwin “Ed” French, Jr., age 76, a resident of rural Redfield, Kan., passed away unexpectedly, Friday, October 27, 2017, at the Mercy Hospital Emergency Room in Fort Scott, Kan.

He was born August 11, 1941, in Fort Scott, the son of Ralph E. French, Sr., and Goldie Abagail Campbell French. He married Mary Ann Biles on October 3, 1958, in Miami, Okla. She survives of the home. Ed attended Fort Scott schools with the Class of 1958. He graduated from Fort Scott Community College and Heating and Air Conditioning trade school at Pittsburg State University. He learned the plumbing trade while serving with the United States Navy. He owned and operated Ed French Plumbing and Heating for many years in both Spring Hill, Kan., and later in Fort Scott. He was a Master Plumber and served as head of the Fort Scott Plumbing Board. He also served as the first Bourbon County Emergency Preparedness Director and also worked with the Fort Scott Community College Department of Water Management. He faithfully served with the United States military for 29 years. For eight years, he served with the Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 8 where he was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Port Hueneme, Calif., and Davisville, R.I. He later served for 21 years with the Kansas Army National Guard 891st Engineer Battalion. He retired as First Sergeant. During his time with the National Guard, he earned many awards and citations and was involved with the program that built schools and medical clinics in the underdeveloped areas of Central America. He was a member of the Olson Frary Burkhart Post #1165 Veterans of Foreign Wars and was active with the Color Guard Unit. He was also a member of the Fort Scott Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Ed enjoyed his cattle operation, fishing, riding his four-wheeler and spending time outdoors.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Ann, of the home; his four children, son, Tony Wendell French and wife, Patsy, of Fort Scott, son, Michael Steven French, of Olathe, Kan., daughter, Laura Ann Phillips and husband, Randy, of Fort Scott, and son, Daniel Glen French and wife, Rachel, of Fort Scott and grandchildren, Jessie Marsh and husband, Zach, of Fort Scott, Danielle Herman, of Olathe, Kan., Ashley Keylon and husband, Jared, of Uniontown, Kan., Tori Murphy and husband, Tim, of Fort Scott, Rachel Burns and husband, Tommy, of Douglas, Kan., Haley Jones, of Fort Scott, Nic French of Wamego, Kan., and Grace French and Sophia French, both of Fort Scott, and seven great-grandchildren. Also surviving are a sister, Nancy Wimmer and husband, Phil, of Pittsburg, Kan., two nieces, a nephew and several cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents, Harry and Della French and Glen and Ida Campbell.

Pastor Larry Stevicks will conduct funeral services at 10 a.m. Tuesday, October 31, at the Cheney Witt Chapel. Burial will follow in the U. S. National Cemetery in Fort Scott where full military honors will be provided by the United States Army. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Cheney Witt Chapel. Memorials are suggested to the V.F.W. Color Guard or the Bourbon County Rural Fire Department and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at


Signs And Sidewalks To Increase In County

Fort Scott High School Carpentry Instructor Larry Lawrence tells students of the work needed to complete the first kiosk the class is working on as a community project. From left are Cole Rogers, junior; Hunter Davis, senior; Averie Ryburn, junior; Caleb Rhoades, senior;  Lawrence, Tracy Watkins, senior; Tristan Stone, junior; and Cole Hall, sophomore. The classes are building information kiosks that will be placed on trails in Fort Scott and Uniontown.

New wayfinding signs will soon dot the walking/biking trails in Fort Scott and Uniontown.

With $7,500 received in late summer from The American Planning Associations  Kansas Chapter and Pathways to Healthy Kansas, the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team will provide information kiosks to be placed around the county, according to Jody Hoener, member of the team.

Hoener is also a member of the sub-committee tasked with pulling the kiosk project together. Also serving on the sub-committee are Todd Farrell, Frank Halsey, Lindsay Madison,  and Jerry Witt.

Each kiosk will have maps of the trail and the surrounding community placed on them for reference to walkers/bikers using the trails, Hoener said.

The 10- foot- long, four-foot-wide and nine- feet -high wooden signs with roofs will be placed at Riverfront Loop Road,  Bell Town Trail,  the new trail at Gunn Park, Ellis Park Trail,  Fort Scott Community College Trail, Industrial Park Trail, and in the western part of the county, the Uniontown Trail.

FSHS teacher, Larry Lawrence, works with students Averie Ryburn, Tristan Stone and Tracy Watkins on the rafters of the second kiosk in production at the school. To the left is the finished roof of the first kiosk.

The construction of the kiosks is being completed by Fort Scott High School Carpentry Classes, under the instruction of Larry Lawrence.

Lawrence was looking for community projects for his students to work on, he said.

This summer, Fort Scott Superintendent of Parks Todd Farrell called with the kiosk idea, Lawrence said.

Two carpentry classes have been working on them since school started, Lawrence said.

“We are building four (kiosks) right now, and maybe four in the spring,” Lawrence said.

“They gave me the initial plans and I created them in more detail on AutoCAD (computer-aided design),” Lawrence said.

Simon Ballou will do the artwork for the kiosks and Darren Crays will print and apply the work on plastic panels, Crays said.

“Frank Halsey is going to take them to his place (following completion),” Lawrence said. “He’ll keep them until the city is ready to put them up.”

New sidewalks to be unveiled Nov. 14

The proposed new sidewalks in Uniontown. Taken from the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team Facebook page.
The Fort Scott sidewalk plan to be proposed on Nov. 14, taken from the Health Bourbon County Action Team Facebook page.

In addition to wayfaring signs, the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team has been planning for more sidewalks in the county.

That team, along with PedNet will be at both the Fort Scott City Commission and the Uniontown City Council  November 14 to show the results of the sidewalk plans, according to its Facebook page. They will unveil the proposed non-motorized transportation plan from 5-6 p.m.  at the Fort Scott City Hall, 123 S. Main, and from 7-8 p.m. at Uniontown City Hall, 206 Sherman, on the east side of the square.

PedNet is a non-profit consulting firm specializing in Safe Routes to School, non-motorized transportation, and nutrition, according to the Facebook page.

Riverfront Park Pavilion Work Has Begun

Work has begun on the Riverfront Park Pavilion.

A  seven-man crew from Schenkel Contracting, Fort Scott, began work on the Riverfront Pavilion Wednesday.

The pavilion will be 30 feet by 50 feet by 12 feet, Cory Schenkel said.

It is located near the parking area, at the entrance to the park.

The crew was putting up the building frame, with the roof slated for tomorrow, and the end wall following, he said.

The pavilion will have a concrete pad, lights, and some electrical outlets, and should be done in a few weeks, weather permitting, Schenkel said.

Schenkel will be completing the concrete work. Max Fanning, Fort Scott, is the contractor for the electrical work.

The pavilion, although it looks like it sits askew, runs north and south, Schenkel said.


Love Elected County Treasurer

Photo submitted by Deb Martin. Monday evening Patricia Love was elected by the Bourbon County Republican Party to replace outgoing county treasurer, Rhonda Dunn.

Patricia Love, who has been Deputy Bourbon County Treasurer for five years was elected to replace outgoing treasurer, Rhonda Dunn, Oct. 30.

“Rhonda made such positive changes, I want to keep it going in that direction,” Love told FortScott.Biz. “If there are any questions, people can call me anytime at 223-3800, ext. 135.”

“I think this is the easiest transition for the office,”  Dunn said. “I’ve worked beside her for five years and she will do well.”

Next in the process, is for Love to be appointed by the governor.

The Bourbon County Republican Central Committee met at Fort Scott Livestock Market to discuss interested candidates and vote on Dunn’s replacement.

Thirty-three delegates from Bourbon County townships and Fort Scott wards, voted by secret ballot with Love declared the winner.

Two others, Mike Mason of Uniontown, and Ann Clarkson of Fort Scott submitted their names in to be considered for the position, Randall Readinger, chairman of the central committee said.

Love will fill out the remainder of Dunn’s term and then run for re-election in 2018 if she desires.

“Rhonda has done a fine job of training her office staff and Patty, as her deputy, has been involved in all that,” Readinger said.

Currently, there are six employees in the treasurer’s office.

Love said she will promote Sandy Tirri to deputy treasurer then hire a clerk to cross-train in both the treasurer’s office and motor vehicle department.

The annual pay of the treasurer position is $47,000, $10,000 of which comes from fees from the motor vehicle department, Dunn said.

Rhonda Dunn resigned as Bourbon County Treasurer Oct. 10, her last day is Nov. 3.