By: Oranna B. Felter, (His Sister)
Samuel Reginald (Reggie) Bumgarner, roll #31, was born at the old hospital in Fort Duchesne on February 28, 1938 to Samuel Walker Bumgarner Jr. and Elizabeth Curry Bumgarner. Reggie was the "First Born" of the Bumgarner Children. He was a Cute Baby. With Dark almost black eyes and beautiful Curley, wavy black hair.
Mom always dressed him in the old' time "Hosh Koshes,” or better know as the stripped coveralls with a tee shirt and the usually tie shoes. Mom’s family loved him and especially Uncle Dick Curry. They bonded to each other from the day Reggie was born, a bond that would not be broken and would last a life time...
Reggie went to the old "Alterra School" on Whiterocks highway. He was smart and very handsome. When he went to Union High School he was the typical teenager. I can remember that him and his buddies would be throwing the football from the time they got off the school bus until dark. He loved to draw pictures and took an art class at Union. Mrs. Krissman the art teacher told Reg he had a lot of potential in art.
In 1956 he joined the United States Marines and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, this was during peacetime. Reg brought a "Moss Green 1957 two door Chevy coupe." It was beautiful... He looked so cool driving that car around. I wanted to drive it so bad, but no was the word.
When Reg would come home on leave... he bummed around with his usually buddies but spent most of his time with my Uncle Dick and at my Grandpa and Grandma Curry’s. He loved all three of us kids... me, Marleen and Craig, he was the big brother type that was really cool in the 50's. Craig idolized Reg. and Reg. loved Craig. He’s the one that called him "Little Joe" and gave all of us our nicknames. Marleen my little sister was pretty sick at this time and she would look forward to having Reg come home. He would hold her on his knee and tickle her and kiss her on the forehead with big tears in his eyes.
Reggie went with a lot of the Local girls, but there was one that I know to this day was the "Love of his Life." They never married. Reg married a girl from Salt Lake City, Utah where Reg was living and working. They had one daughter and named her Debbie. She was born on April 21, 1968.
Termination had already hit the reservation like a ball of fire consuming everything and everyone in its path, including my Brother Reg. Mom had been killed in a Car Accident and Dad had gone back to Oklahoma. I was married and Craig was living with my Grandparents and me.
Reg started drinking more than the usual weekend party. Him and his wife divorced and he moved back to the Reservation, where alcohol like most reservations was the on going thing to pass time...get drunk and have a party.
He drifted from place to place and couldn't find a steady job because of his drinking problem, and his health. His stomach was bothering him a lot and he was in pain with it. He had already had one major surgery. The Doctors warned him that he would have to stop drinking immediately as the alcohol was affecting his liver. Uncle Dick and I had talked to him several times trying to get him to quit. This never happened.
Reg was such a loner, He use to come to my House in Neola and lay on the floor and put my Daughter on his stomach, then he would kiss and love her and say "Give uncle some hugs and kisses."
This "Warrior" that I had watched grow into such handsome man, was now a beaten older little Man. Termination had taken the lives of almost all of our family and broke almost everyone. Everyone had to scrounge for money and a lot of people sold their Ute Distribution stock or traded him or her for cars, groceries, and tires. No one was educated on what the value of these stocks was or what they even represented. The government lied and said we were educated on the termination this was not true. Reg, had sold his Ute Distribution Stocks for little money, and now he had nothing. No Home... No Place to call his own, to be able to go to and rest his weary body and mind.
My Brother got so bad that he slept in an old wrecked car behind a garage in Roosevelt. He didn't have any clean clothes, all he had was the clothes on his back, and the only thing that mattered at this time was getting another drink. This is what Termination had done for him. This "Warrior,” that was in the United States Marines and would have given his life for our Country.
Finally he checked into an Alcohol Rehab Center that my Uncle was helping to run. (May be there was finally hope.) It seemed so good to take my little girls down to see him. I would love to look at this man that was so very Handsome in his younger days, but was now sick from the effects of alcohol. He would always come out with a clean white tee shirt on and a freshly ironed pair of levis and always with the "Creased" right down the center of the leg, freshly shaven, and his wavy black hair combed with the duck tail in the middle. He would play with the girls hugging and kissing them. Then he would ask me how’s Little Joe doing? I would tell him how he was and then he would say, "I worry so much about him" He’s so little for what he has had to go through. "Watch him, Ran’ stay close to him.”
As soon as he got out of the AA center it wasn't long before he was back to drinking again. His liver was slowly starting to take its toll on Reg. His eyes and skin were starting to turn yellow. The Doctors told him he would have to quit drinking or die.
My Brother was too far-gone physically, and mentally. He looked terrible. My Uncle Dick who is also a reformed alcoholic lived in Roosevelt and had an empty car Garage, that half of was like a bedroom. He talked Reg into staying with him there. Reg ate in the main house with my uncle, in the Indian way... my Uncle was his brother and uncle dick treated him like his brother or son... Uncle Dick took good care of him, but never could get him to quit drinking.
One day Uncle Dick and Reg went to the mountains. Regs took a fifth of vodka and Uncle Dick a six-pack of Pepsi. Reg finally broke down and told Uncle Dick he didn't want to die and that he was scared. The words our Uncle and I had been waiting for years to hear had finally been spoken, but it was too late!
I was at home in Neola when uncle called me and said you had better get down here Reggie is really sick. I just called for an ambulance. I jumped in my car and headed for Roosevelt. Reggie was so sick that Uncle had moved him into the main house so he could watch him. I ran into the bedroom where Reg lying. My Brother was lying in bed, covered with a blanket. He was half conscious. To one side of the bed Reg had folded all of his clothes put them in a box and had them all arranged just like he wanted with his wallet and money on top where Uncle would be able to find them. It was as though he knew he was dying.
My Heartbroke as I looked at this "little man warrior" lying in this big bed. He was hemorrhaging from every pour in his body; blood was running everywhere, Reg looked at me with "big tears in his eyes..." I could see he was scared and so was I. To this day I know he wanted to say he loved me and not to leave him and he was scared, but he didn't have the strength. The one thing he was able to said was. "Ran take good care of little Joe; you know he’s always alone. He’s a loner just like you and me, watch over him," I told him I would do the best I could and He shut his eyes!
The ambulance finely came and they took him to the Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake City about one hundred and fifty miles to the west of Roosevelt. I run home and grabbed my suitcase and took off for Salt Lake City. When I arrived they told me Reg passed on about 45 minutes before I got there, all by him, just as he had always lived his life.
Reggie died on June 2, 1973 at the age of 35, another helpless victim of the Governments “Termination” policy of ex-terminating Native American Indians. Termination had even separated him and the only woman he ever loved, because she was full blood and he was mixed blood. Termination robbed my brother of the life he should have had and the Woman that probably could have helped him.
I stood and looked at my Brother lying in the Casket. The tears were rolling down my cheeks. This mortuary was getting to be an all too familiar place for me. Gazing down at him I could see peace in his face, he was still very handsome even in death. But the years of drinking had left its mark; He weighed about one hundred twenty pounds and was skin and bone. This handsome once strong, stocky built guy with dark brown wavy hair, that use to weigh over two hundred pounds was now a little tiny Indian Warrior laying in the casket. His Native American Features was so clear, dark skin, high cheek bonds, once dark wavy hair that was now almost grey. My Brother who once scared the hell out of people who even looked at him crossed eyed and loved a good fight... was now lying there... "Quiet." I looked at him with tears rolling down my cheeks and wished that things could have been different, that we could have spent more time together, laughed and told jokes on each other, but we were always in two different worlds, His secret world of pain, anguish, torment and alcohol and mine of always just trying to cope in a "Whiteman’s world." Trying to be someone that I knew deep down I could never be.
Yes Reg was part of me and I was part of him and I really felt Reg was lying here because of what we had to go through with termination destroying our family.
I loved him and wish to this day I could have grown old with him. I would enjoy listening to him talk about his high school days, girlfriends, and parties, the Marines, hunting the big bucks in the Uinta Mountains. It really makes me mad because I got cheated out of not being able to get to see him grown old.
Regs circle was completed and he had traveled on at the young age of 35. "I say this to you my Brother. I will one day be there to visit with you then we will make up for all the time we have lost. I know your spirit is beside me protecting me as we try to put an end to the Nightmare called termination.&quto;
Reg is buried in Fort Duchesne, Utah next to his Mother, Father, and two little sisters.