Robert D. (Stretch) Cather died peacefully at home, Thursday, June 27, 2019. Robert Dean (Stretch) Cather was born July 18, 1927 at the family home in Harper, Kansas to William Homer and Jesse Oleta (Crow) Cather. The family moved to Anthony when he was 3 years old so that his father could purchase his own grocery and meat cutting business. Stretch lived the rest of his life in the Anthony area.
As a child, Robert grew up on Main Street at the family market. He delivered groceries, then later learned meat cutting from his father. In high school he was first chair trumpet player his sophomore year, then was forced to choose between basketball and band. He chose basketball, hoping it would get him a scholarship to college, but his love for music, particularly Big Band music, never wavered. The nickname “Stretch” started with his high school coach telling him since he couldn’t jump well, to “Stretch”! Robert was a member of the State Championship basketball team of 1945 – the last boys team to win the state basketball title from Anthony.
Following high school, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was in boot camp in San Diego, CA when the Hiroshima bomb was dropped, so he never had to serve in overseas combat. Robert served the Navy in Great Lakes, IL, and Norman, OK, before finishing his service in Camp Wallace, TX. He enrolled in Wichita University in 1946 on a basketball scholarship and the GI bill. At WU, he played on the freshman basketball squad, who won the state AAU championship. A later year he played AAU basketball with his fraternity, the Webster house, which placed third in the state tournament. Stretch earned a BS degree in Economics in 1950.
Following college, Stretch returned to Anthony to work with his parents at their market. He met a local schoolteacher, Pat Meeker, whom he married on December 28, 1952. They made their home in Anthony until 1954 when they moved southwest of town to the farm where they spent the next 63 years. Stretch taught school at Spring School from 1954 – 1960 while establishing his farming business. He was a first generation farmer, a rarity in those times.
Stretch and Pat added to their family in 1956 with the birth of Michael Robert, then Connie Sue in 1958.
Stretch always loved cattle, and was an early user of wheat pasture for grazing in the stocker cattle business. Later in life, he invested in cattle feedlots, and enjoyed that side of the business as well. One of his simple pleasures was seeing his cattle grazing on wheat pasture.
Stretch was involved in his community. He served several terms on the State Line Grain Co-op Board. He was instrumental in getting water piped to rural farms serving on the Rural Water District #2 Board. He ran unsuccessfully for the School Board in the 70s. He served many capacities at Burchfiel United Methodist Church, where he and Pat still hold membership. Stretch was a 50+ year member of the Kansas Livestock Association. They attended many National Cattlemen’s Conventions, and made many friends there. Stretch and Pat belonged to 3 bridge clubs, one of which took all of their families on summer camping and water skiing excursions, creating many special memories.
Stretch and Pat were honored for their support of the Barton County Junior College basketball team when Mike was on that team. They tried to never miss a game.
Stretch and Pat traveled extensively. They went as far as Africa, South America, the Nordic countries, Europe, the Holy Land and China. They loved cruising Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean, and took many trips within the continental United States.
Mike and Karen gave him the best gifts of his life with grandsons Ben and Jeff in 1987 and 1991 respectively. Grandpa Stretch tried to never miss any of their activities. He was an avid and vocal supporter of them!
Stretch will be remembered for his several passions: family, basketball, cattle, and music. He was a great tease, especially to the kids at church. He loved his friends from childhood and youth, several of whom are still living, his long-term friends in the community, and his newer friends he has made at Country Living and the Parkinsons support group.
He was preceded in death by his father Homer in 1967, mother Oleta in 1987, and sisters Mary in 1979, and Claribel (Sue) in 2017.
He will be greatly missed by his wife of 66 years, Pat, son Mike (Karen) Cather, daughter Connie (Eddie) Green, grandsons Ben (Amanda) Cather, Jeff (Allie) Cather, great-granddaughter Charlie Cather, and a host of friends.
Celebration of Life will be held 10:30 a.m. July 18, 2019 at the Anthony United Methodist Church.
Memorials in memory of Stretch may be made to Country Living Inc., the Burchfiel United Methodist Church or to Donor's Choice and may be sent in care of the funeral home.
Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 602 E. Main St., Anthony, KS 67003, is in charge of cremation. www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com