Family and friends say Erda native and lifetime resident, Charles “Charley” Robert Warr, was an advocate for farmers’ rights, who loved his family foremost, but who also prized his community, Tooele Valley and working the land as a rancher.
Warr was born Dec. 11, 1946 in Tooele, Utah, the second of two sons, to Nina Vorwaller and Keith Jensen Warr. He died Sunday, June 25, 2017, from a sudden heart attack in Erda.
He served on many boards and was president of both the Tooele County Cattlemen’s Association and the Grantsville Grazing Association. He also spent around a decade on the Erda Planning Commission, where his father had also served, according to daughter Lorri Witkowski.
Warr served on the state board of directors of the Utah Association of Conservation Districts, working to protect water, soil and natural resources, she said.
“He was a huge proponent of land conservation, water and farming,” Witkowski added. “Open space is something he tried hard to preserve.”
Although he was born in Tooele City, Warr spent the majority of his life in Erda. He graduated from Tooele High School in 1965 and attended Utah State University.
Four generations of his progenitors preceded him in Erda. Likewise, the majority of his posterity has also remained.
Warr compiled 36 years in federal service, beginning with his United States Army service in the Vietnam War. He worked in the artillery and missile battalion and was stationed for two years in Okinawa, Japan, and then another two at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
He married his lifelong sweetheart, Judy Rydalch, on Dec. 18, 1965 in Tooele. Their marriage was later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on June 22, 1978.
Following his war service, he began working for Vista Liner Company. He next worked at Tooele Army Depot, where he served in supply and inventory. He finished his career at Dugway Proving Ground as a materiel test director.
In 2002, when Warr retired, he became a full-time rancher. He then purchased a large portion of land. Along with smaller pieces he had acquired over the years, he ended up with 1,500 acres, which he called the “Flying U Ranch,” Witkowski said.
According to an obituary published Thursday in the Transcript Bulletin, he found joy in working the Erda soil. This was his dream job, his wife Judy said.
Warr owned another 2,700 acres of land in Idaho, which he “used for recreation for the family and grazing for cattle in the summer,” Witkowski said. “[The family] would go up pretty much every week or every other week, depending on the [need]. It’s taken 10 years to get the whole thing fenced.”
As the family worked together to complete the fence, they would also camp and hunt.
According to Warr’s obituary, as he ranched, he taught his family. Among these lessons were how to corral cows, drive a pickup, move sprinklers and how to love one another.
As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Warr served as bishop, bishop’s counselor, scoutmaster and high priest advisor.
He was known for his compassion.
“It didn’t really matter to my dad who you were, where you came from, or what language you spoke; if you needed something, he would find a way to get it for you,” Witkowski said. “He and my mom would deliver things to people. If he found out there was a need, if he couldn’t do it himself … he would get with other people to make it work.”
After Quinn Heder moved to Erda, he became friends with Warr. Heder sought out Warr’s advice as he bought a cow and learned how to care for it.
“He became my information guy,” Heder said. “He found me a cow and a calf and nursed me through the learning curve of how to take care of them.”
When the heifer calved the first time, Warr was there to help pull the calf and helped Heder take care of complications.
Heder said Warr was “selfless and completely charitable. He thought very little of his own time and his own needs and placed a high value on what other people needed. He was very much like a father figure who I could go to no matter what.”
As two of Heder’s siblings died, he struggled with what doctors at first thought were physical ailments, possibly cancer. He deteriorated quickly, lost sleep “and was suffering considerably.”
Heder called Warr, who was his LDS bishop.
“He helped me immediately with counseling, goodness and help to get through it,” said Heder. “He kept track of me and was never too busy for me. He was there.”
Heder stressed that Warr would never take payment for anything.
“He spent over $1,000 helping me. I tried like crazy to repay him. He said ‘do that for someone else, that would be payment enough.’ There isn’t a better person,” said Heder.
Witkowski said her father was a specialist in many different areas of rural life, and would get calls from residents of all ages regarding how to dig a well, how to fix a tractor, etc.
“He was the go-to guy for so many things, because he just had so much knowledge about the area, and the history and the people here,” she said.
Chad W. Allred, former president of the Stansbury, Utah South LDS Stake, worked with Warr as he served as a bishop.
“He was a man of true character — a loyal and honest and good man,” Allred said. Allred went on to say that Warr had an admirable relationship with wife Judy, who he “prized and cherished.” He also made family his top priority.
“He had the wisdom to assist them through many of the storms of life and he would drop anything to be there, at a moment’s notice, when they needed him most,” Allred said. “His family adores him. I believe Charlie understood with clarity the divine nature of family: generations past, present, and future.”
Scott Droubay, who also is a fifth-generation Erda resident, said he grew up watching the “older boys of Erda” like Warr, Craig Vorwaller and Tommy Warr.
“All my life, he has always embodied the very essence of what Erda is: faith, family and agriculture,” Droubay said.
For Witkowski, her father’s most endearing characteristic was that “He loved me no matter what. It was unconditional … He always remained calm. He always saw the bigger picture and [he knew] it wasn’t worth it to carry a grudge.”
Witkowski said what her father loved most about farming was that Judy was always there with him.
On their anniversary last December, Warr mentioned in a card to Judy that, “he feels guilty sometimes because he loved having her by his side. They had a close relationship. They were just always together. That example has been one of the greatest examples for me and my brothers and the grandkids,” Witkowski said.
Mike Jensen served as a counselor to Warr in the Batesville Ward bishopric.
“The love [Warr] has for his mom, wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, it’s so difficult to put into words,” Jensen said. “You could just feel and sense [it] and how much they loved him.”
Jensen said Warr has left some big cowboy boots for his family to fill. But, he expects that Warr’s family will continue do so as they “follow the path he left with those cowboy boots throughout Tooele County and their ranch in Idaho.”
Warr leaves behind his mother, Nina; wife, Judy; two sons, Troy and Kody; daughter, Lorri; 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held today. Warr was 70 years old.