She was sunshine. Not the kind that you took shelter from, but the kind you soaked your soul in. Pauli, as many of her friends called her, was sweet and warm as pure natural sunlight and blessed were we all to have her in our lives. She often told us how blessed we were, and she often joked about being “homeless” because she had several homes in her lifetime to enjoy. Pauline will be honored with a blessing and celebration of life at 1pm on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds McKibben Cafeteria in Douglas, Wyoming with Kyle Haar officiating, and members of the Converse County Homemakers serving a meal afterwards. Interment will be at the family ranch with service arrangements being coordinated by Gorman Funeral Homes – Converse Chapel.
Pauline had courageously lived with Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 25 years and had thoroughly educated all of us about the affliction, but nothing could prepare us for the rapid onset of additional medical challenges that took her light away. It was very unexpected and unexplained, yet peaceful and pain free. While we are all still in shock, there is a bright light blessing another place full of peace and laughter. She had a great sense of humor and a quick smile to go with her brilliant mind and beautiful blue eyes.
Pauline Pearl Sanford was born at the family homestead near the banks of Dogie Draw along Windy Ridge Road near Douglas, Wyoming on October 8, 1941 and always considered the Douglas area her permanent address. Her parents were Claude (Bert and Anna Sanford) and Herminnie Brockmeyer Sanford (Herman and Ethel Brockmeyer). Her great grandparents were the Rice’s, who were pioneers to the area. Mrs. Rice was the 2nd non-native American baby born in Converse County at the time! Her grandfather, Bert Sanford, first developed Cold Springs (west of Douglas, WY) on June 29, 1898 and many of her ancestors were settlers of the Dry Creek Community (east of Bill, WY) before drought and depression forced relocation. Summers were spent with her best childhood friend/neighbor, Mary Alice Leman. Together they would participate in 4-H, help gather each family’s milk cows in the evenings or go off adventuring on their horses for days and days. Pauline attended grade school at a one room rural school, then known as Beaver School and then attended high school in Douglas, graduating in 1941 third in her class, although she liked to tell us that her GPA was higher than her brothers, who graduated as Salutatorian and Valedictorian. There’s plenty of stories to tell about her life then which involved her car that she named “Nellie Belle” and her many adventures in town school. Pauline had lots of friends, including Rita Middleton, whose family she would eventually marry into, and she was involved in lots of school activities. She went on to complete college at the University of Wyoming, earning a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics and Dietetics. Again, she was involved in many organizations and groups, even earning a Purina funded trip to Georgia. After college, she worked at Medicine Bow Lodge, which she spoke of often. As usual, she made more good friends there!
In the summer of 1963, she married Benny R. Middleton and together they established Deer Forks Ranch and successfully operated a cattle and horse ranch, and took in hunters and guests to subsidize ranching. They were one of the founding members of the Wyoming Homestay and Outdoor Association and a member of Guest Ranches of North America. Their ranch was featured in many places, including Country Magazine and several movies and films have been made on the property, much of this is credited to Pauline’s people and planning skills. Miss Pauli was also a fabulous cook and took care of all the meals for brandings and their guest ranch and hunting outfitting business, which they were still a part of. She loved sewing and made many of the clothes for her family and also enjoyed riding horses, ranch work, painting, photography, gardening, flowers, reading, watching tv, attending auctions, and bookwork (she was our tax lady and read the Turbo Tax book cover to cover each year). Pauline was a longtime 4-H leader and also received her 51-year homemaker membership certificate in 2015 as a member of the LaBonte Sagebrush Club, and was still an active member at the time of her passing. She was often seen at County and State Fairs in the region as a food or home economics judge for the 4-H youth programs. She also taught school for several years at a nearby rural school and her knowledge of meal planning earned her several side jobs for employment.
Ben and Pauline were blessed to be able to spend time each winter in the southwest, and had been going south as snowbirds for approximately 20 years and enjoying the nicer climate in Arizona and New Mexico while it’s too cold in Wyoming. Pauline always considered Wyoming home and even though she enjoyed their traveling, she always looked forward to coming back for the warmer seasons! They took many ATV rides around the mountains anywhere that they were living, and always had a couple dogs, cats and sometimes horses on their adventures. Pauline always liked to go, but also liked home just as well. She never let any physical limitations hold her back and was always very self-sufficient and organized. Ben and Pauline were in the process of completing a renovation on a retirement apartment in town so they could participate in more local activities and be closer to amenities.
Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves and Pauline was surely one of those individuals. Never one to trouble another, she always saw the best in everyone and we are all blessed to have had her enrich our world. A happy person with quick wit and an easy smile, her warmth was evident and she was easy to like.
Surviving family members include: Benny Middleton (husband), Pamela Middleton Haar (daughter), Ron Haar (son in law), Harry Sanford (brother), Kyle and Keely Haar (grandson and granddaughter), Ensley Haar (great granddaughter), Luke Haar (great grandson), Max Haar (great grandson), Piper Haar (great granddaughter or “Shorty” as Pauline called her), several nieces and their families and numerous in-laws.
Preceding her in death: Kelly Middleton (son), Leroy Sanford (brother), Claude Sanford (father), Herminnie Sanford (mother), Oscar and Marie Middleton (parents in law), Joe Middleton (brother in law).
Honorary pallbearers to include her family members, Homemaker members and her endless list of friends and those she influenced (pretty much anyone who met her would take on this honor).
Contributions to Converse County 4-H, LaBonte Sagebrush Homemakers or the Kelly Middleton family memorial fund (used for community enrichment programs) would be appreciated by the family.
Condolences may be sent at www.gormanfh.com. If you have any stories or photos of Pauline you would like to share, please also send to the above email or bring to the service (she was behind the camera much of the time, so photos are few and far between). Quotes used above by Ruby Dahl and James M. Barrie.
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