More MS news articles for July 2001

Illness didn't rein in love of West

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,53%257E69988,00.html

Wednesday, July 18, 2001
By Claire Martin
Denver Post Staff Writer

People who knew Don Standifird still picture him in Wranglers and a polo shirt, a pack of Winston cigarettes in the breast pocket, surrounded by the horse-collar mirrors, old spurs and other cowboy memorabilia hanging in the Western Room of his house in Fruita.

From boyhood, he was intrigued by ranch life. When he was in 4-H, he raised several steers that became grand champions. When he was working in Denver for an auto glass company, Donald Blaine Standifird often drove back to Fruita, to help out at one of the family ranches.

Even after he was diagnosed, at age 28, with multiple sclerosis, the country was still his favorite place.

"Back in 1977, when Don moved back over here from Denver because the MS got so bad, he still came over to the family farm, with his cane, and did whatever he could to help out his dad and feel useful," said his sister, Laurie Platz. She cared for her brother from 1989 until 1999, when he moved into the Fruita nursing home where he died, at age 55, on June 11.

"He tried not to let the MS stop him."

She still keeps Dusty, the horse that Standifird's father bought for $400, including tack and hay, in 1981. Every Sunday, Standifird visited Dusty, a placid sorrel gelding, or asked after him.

"He thought the world of that horse," she said.

"It was just a plug, 14 years old when we got him. You'd have to beat that horse just to get him to go, but my brother was in love with that horse. We used to have Sunday breakfast, and then I'd get that plug horse out, and we'd get my brother up on that horse, and take him for a ride. Even after he was in the nursing home, we used to bring Dusty down to the house on Christmas and Thanksgiving, and take my brother out to see him."

During visits to the family farm, Standifird sometimes rode the tractor, too. About 10 years ago, he helped haul in the hay. After being lifted to the John Deere seat, he drove the tractor while his brothers and sister loaded the hay wagon.

"That was the last time he drove it, and he had the biggest smile on his face," Platz said.

As the disease progressed, Standifird spent more time in his wheelchair. When his sight was still clear, he watched Broncos games on TV, and converted horse collars and other tack into wall mirrors and hangings. Often, his niece, April Platz, joined him before and after school. She'd toast waffles, and they would watch "Brady Bunch" reruns together while they ate.

Survivors include Platz, his son Don, Jr., and daughter-in-law Tammy; brother Geno and sister-in-law Barbara of Lakewood; brother Mike and sister-in-law Kathy; grandchildren Austin Ray and Cammron Dawn Standifird; and many nieces and nephews. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Colorado chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis National Society, or to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Fruita.