Clock never struck midnight on Conrath's fairytale
Of Cabbages and Kings
Bert Conrath stands with his wife of 65 years, Pat Conrath.
Pat Conrath was born in St. Maries, Idaho. The family moved to Emida, Idaho. “My father, William Clute, owned a store,” she said. “We lived there until I was 10. I was number three of six children. We came to Cheney in 1936 so that my older sister could attend Cheney Normal School. Our father got a job at Cheney Weeder and worked there for 25 years.” The family settled in but Pat was not very impressed with the town. What she didn’t know was an exciting surprise was waiting for her.
We’re not quite ready for the surprise. Let’s talk about Bert Conrath. “I was born in Tokio, a little place in the road near Ritzville,” he said. “We moved to Sprague and I graduated from that high school in the class of 1940. I was the only one of 15 kids that stayed the whole 12 years.”
Bert Conrath joined the Air Force. He trained in airplane mechanics in Texas.”Garnett Boots, another young man from Cheney was there at the same time,” he said. “I worked on B-25s for three years, then on B-26s. I was transferred to Columbia, S.C. and had the best commanding officer. His name was Harry Goldsworthy. He came from Rosalia.” It looks as if the Air Force picked the best from the Northwest. Bert Conrath served in the Air Force for three years, three months and three weeks. Then Bert and his mother moved to Cheney.
Now for the surprise. A dance was scheduled in the little town of Cheney. Mr. Clute took Pat to the dance. Her sister was supposed to be the date of a nice looking young man, whose name was Bert Conrath. But her sister “didn’t show up” as Pat put it. Bert Conrath had the honor of escorting Pat home. “I liked him from the start,” she said. “I met a guy I fell in love with.”
Bert worked at a Spokane service station then worked at Ratfcliffe’s for 20 years, Cheney Motor Company for five years and Eastern Washington University State College for 20 years. “The motorized equipment shop started while I was there,” he said. “I retired in 1978.” Retirement doesn’t mean the person quits working. Bert Conrath is still known for his skill in working with vehicles. “If anybody wanted a new car or needed one fixed, they’d call Bert,” Pat said. “He’s sharp.”
The years have gone swiftly for the Conraths as they pursued their talents that kept them busy. With three children growing up, Pat did cake decorating. She and Bert once drove to Montana with a special cake for a client and didn’t lose a crumb.
Pat also did floral designing for Chet’s Flowers and taught it as well as cake decorating at Spokane Community College. She enjoyed her time as the head of the food and clothing bank as well as other community duties. All this while Bert kept the cars of his Cheney customers humming.
The Conraths have nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. They recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. And Pat, always ready with a clever remark, said, “Bert said he’s gonna stick it out. He’s a keeper.” The Conraths have made a wonderful impression on Cheney, contributing their friendship and caring personalities along with their talents. God bless you.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.