By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Life as it should be: A visit with the Grand Marshals


Charlene Smith

2013 Trail Days Grand Marshals John and Roberta Marquardt enjoy the view from their window of their hometown. Come join them for all the fun this weekend in Pine Bluffs.

Who knew that a motor scooter that “didn’t start and wouldn’t go anywhere” could lead two people through over 60 years of wonderful life together.

It was 1947, and John Marquardt’s parents were looking for land to purchase to start their farm after moving from Scribner, Neb., to Pine Bluffs. Roberta (Johnson) came over on her motor scooter and although she couldn’t ride off in the sunset with the eighth grader, John, she stole his heart.

“We never quite got over each other,” Roberta says with a gleam of youthful love twinkling in her eyes. “Life’s been good, so whatever we did, it must have worked.”

Roberta was raised on a farm eight miles southeast of Pine Bluffs, a farm her grandfather and father took care of. When Roberta’s father passed away, John and Roberta moved their family there to carry on the family tradition. Their son, Greg, is now running the wheat farm and a cattle ranch, making it five generations of Johnson’s that have farmed that land.

John enlisted in the Army, serving for two years in the First Infantry Division of the Army and was stationed in Germany.

“It wasn’t war time so no one was shooting at me,” laughed John. “It wasn’t a bad deal. I got to see Europe.”

Roberta worked at the visitor center as a greeter for 15 years, the clinic for two, and raised four children.

When not farming, John was busy flying people all across the United States in his air taxi business as well as flying for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, United States Department of Agriculture for 13 years each and the oil industry. John also gave flight to over 100 peoples dreams of flying by teaching them the trade. Roberta said John was an “entrepreneur,” and he had dabbled in selling 100 homes in Fort Collins with two friends.

“One was an attorney, one was a real estate developer and I supplied the greed,” laughed John.

He also transferred Canadian lumber that came in by train to Egbert and loaded it into semis to be shipped across the states.

Along with supporting his family, John was also very active in his community. He served as mayor of Pine Bluffs for eight years and a council member for two more. He was also the chairman for Laramie County and Cheyenne tourism committee for six years and assisted the Laramie County Economic Development for 13 years.

Adding to their life, John and Roberta had four children. Cheryl is a teacher in Trinidad, Colo., Karen a teacher in Fallon, Nev., Greg is running the family farm near Pine Bluffs, and Kevin operates the laundromat in Pine Bluffs and a greenhouse. They also claim eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild along with four step great-grandchildren as their own.

“One is on the way, but we won’t count him yet,” smiled Roberta.

“We’ve been busy,” John said.

Both John and Roberta participated in the melodrama that has become such a hit at Trail Days. John was the Master of Ceremonies for many years, and Roberta said she “sold beer.” Both agreed it was a “fun time” helping with the shows.

“I can’t remember which show, but we were invited to perform at UW in front of 4,000 people,” remembered Roberta. “I guess because we were so good!”

Their home for the past 16 years is located on Marquardt street. Before moving into the beautiful open and bright home, they lived in a trailer “until it fell apart” on the property next door. But the view out both homes was the same.

Looking out of their picture window, they can see the community they take so much pride in, Pine Bluffs. John said they traveled a lot and enjoyed seeing new places but it was always good to come back.

“Life is good,” sighed Roberta.

Saturday at 10 a.m. John and Roberta would like to welcome you to their home-town at the grand parade.


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