Romicks grieve loss of family patriarch
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jack Romick had a wry sense of humor — the kind that puts people at ease — and his love of family was bigger than a mountain landscape.
The longtime Routt County resident died May 30 at his home in Oak Creek.
“My dad was an extremely gregarious person,” said Brent Romick, one of Jack’s three sons. “He was always in good spirits, and he was committed to the western lifestyle. He was raised with incredible manners like the old cowboys were.”
Sons Brent, Lance and Jace agree that Jack was born to be a cowboy, and his life was spent pursuing a lifestyle that revolved around long-held ranching traditions and his love of the outdoors.
“My dad was an absolute gentleman, but he was a character, as well,” Brent said. “There are way too many stories about my dad to pick one out. It didn’t matter if he was ski patrollin’ or in the rodeo arena or going down the road with Pat Mantle or Darwin Lockhart, it was one heck of a life he got to live.”
Routt County Undersheriff Doug Scherar said emergency responders were called to the Romick house in Oak Creek at 1 p.m. May 30 after receiving a call from Jack’s son, Lance Romick. When Lance arrived at the home, he found his father unresponsive upstairs and his mother incoherent.
The family believes the 89-year-old parked the car in the garage and neglected to turn off the car’s engine.
Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said an autopsy confirmed Jack Romick died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his sleep.
Jack grew up near Rawlins, Wyoming, where he met his wife, Janie, in 1949. He was working on a ranch, and she was a waitress in a local restaurant. In the time it took him to order a piece of pie and some coffee, he was able to sweep her off her feet.
The couple dated for less than a year before he headed off to Korea to fight in the war. When Jack returned from the service, the couple was married in Cheyenne at her parents’ home in April 1953. They were married for 65 years and raised three boys of their own.
After Korea, Jack attended the University of Wyoming, where he studied agriculture and continued to manage large ranches in the West.
The Romicks eventually moved to a ranch outside of Kremmling, where Jack opened Romicks Ranching Wear. The western store featured fashions for cowboys and cowgirls and Jack’s handmade saddles.
“He sold hundreds of saddles,” Lance said. “It was the place to go buy a saddle as well as other rodeo gear like bareback riggings, flank straps and padded chaps.”
The Romicks also ran The Hoof and Horn bar in Kremmling.
It was Jack’s long relationships with businessman Bob Adams, whose coal company would become the largest coal mine in Colorado, that brought the Romicks to Steamboat Springs in 1966. Adams asked Jack to managed a ranch in Pleasant Valley, just below Rabbit Ears Pass.
In the slower winter months. Jack worked as a lift operator at Steamboat Ski Area and later earned a position with Steamboat Ski Patrol after learning to ski at age 38.
Jack inspired Lance, who skied in college, and Jace, who was a member of the U.S. Ski Team, to take up ski racing. And he passed on his love for rodeo to Brent.
Janie also stayed busy in Steamboat Springs. She sold real estate, established The Little Shop, one of the ski area’s first gift shops on the mountain, and managed the Inn at Steamboat restaurant in Thunderhead Lodge.
The family left Steamboat in 1975 after Adams bought a gold mine in California that had a large amount of ranch land with it. Jace Romick said his dad was drawn to California by the opportunity to ranch where the temperatures were a little warmer, and he didn’t have to deal with snow.
“It gave dad an opportunity to finally ranch and not be in his snow gear,” Jace said. “He thought that sounded pretty darn good. He didn’t have to put hay up all summer and then feed it all winter.”
The boys returned to the Yampa Valley, one by one, in the years that followed. Jack and Janie Romick would stay in California until Jack retired and then returned to the area to live in Oak Creek in 1992.
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