Monday, November 25, 2013

A Few of the Great Men in My Life...

For anyone who has spent any time in St. Johns, you probably recall with fondness the holidays. For some reason, the Holidays become a great time for reflection on our own lives, on the lives of our families, and on the lives of those who have influenced us greatly. It seems like St. Johns is full of people who have influenced me in ways I’m not sure I can ever repay.

From the time I was a kid, Rob Roy Patterson played a significant role in my life.  Rob and His wife Diane are among my parents' very best friends. Their friendship parlayed into work opportunities on the ranch for me and my brothers and my three boys.  Rob Roy single-handedly managed a big cattle ranch and was involved in every intricacy. Maybe because I was a little more mechanically inclined, I was passed over for the fun jobs, like driving cows and working with young horses, and was picked instead to work on equipment and be involved directly with Rob working on mechanical things. Anybody who knows him knows he was not always a man of many words, and that the lunches he prepared off the back of his truck would never have passed any health department standards. I always thought that Rob Roy liked me, but when he would get after us, it was enough to put the fear of heaven and earth into the depths of our souls! However, after a long day of hunger and thirst and plenty of work, the ride home was usually filled with funny stories, a lot of laughter, and the redemptive confirmation that he really did like me and appreciated my efforts.  My love of machinery and taking care of it, my love of livestock and working with it all have their roots in what I learned from Rob Roy Patterson.

Another beacon in my life, and in the community, is Matt Montoya. I was a grown man before reason led me to realize that it was indeed possible for Matt not to smile. I don’t know if I have ever seen Matt without his big contagious smile. I have had the great blessing of knowing Matt all of my life and have had the privilege of working with him. Matt is one of the most successful businessmen ever in St. Johns. His success is the direct result of a great family, especially his wife Betty, who has contributed not only from the home, as a mother and wife, but also to the community in her work for Apache County. Because of the people that Matt and Betty have surrounded themselves with, they have been a great influence to many.

Matt’s influence has blessed my children’s lives, too. I will never forget attending a college football game in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was particularly sweet, because Afton Lambson was playing for NAU, and my youngest son, Josh, was playing for Southern Utah. They played together in high school and had a lot of success. At halftime, the crowd in the dome settled into a lull as the teams took the field to warm up for the second half. The lull was shattered with a loud “buh-yah” that anyone from St. Johns would immediately recognize as Matt’s rallying cry for the St. Johns High School football team. On this particular day, however, there were two college teams playing. Still, there were two responsive “buh-yah” yells from the field. What was special is that one came from the NAU sidelines and the other from the Southern Utah sidelines. Josh and Afton could not refrain from the familiar yell that is uniquely Matt Montoya’s - but that represents all of St. Johns.
The last person I have been reflecting upon is my Dad, Ted Raban. All of the men I have mentioned are great influences in my life. There are many more, too!  None, however, has been as great an influence on me as my Dad. My Dad was born and raised in St. Johns.  When he was courting my Mom, he brought her here to meet his family and visit his town.  She responded that it would be a great place to visit! Now, over 50 years, and six children later, their visit continues. My father has always been a steadying influence in mine and my siblings lives. He always respected us. Even in his discipline, there was an incredible amount of respect and love. I’m not sure that we ever went without monetary things, although I know that times were tough for his young family. We always felt like we had everything, and on top of that we were taught to love our community, and our faith, and our family. With my dad, there were no lines drawn around religion, or race, or status.  We were taught to love our neighbors, and in St. Johns, everyone was our neighbor. I am grateful for that.

Written by Jeff Raban
November 2013


  1. I love the story about my Uncle Matt. I get chills every time I hear that rallying cry and its response from players year after year. He is one of the best men I know, too. Your dad is great- I love to see him and his smiling face around town. Although I don't know Rob Roy as well, I feel like I got a good glimpse into his character from your description of his actions. Thank you for this reminder of the great men in St. Johns. There are many more, as you stated, and that is what makes this place what it is.

  2. Jeff Raban is one of the great men of SJ. Thanks for your posts